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Resources on
Entrepreneurship Training

When you hear of ‘entrepreneurial training opportunities’ as a postdoc, does your mind automatically flick on a red switch as if to say: “Nope, not relevant to me!”?

 

Do you ponder the prospect for a short moment, before the endless academic to-do list makes its way back to the forefront of your mind, followed by: “I simply don’t have the time”?

 

Do you think that entrepreneurial training only benefits those planning on starting their own venture?

 

Think again.

 

Here at the p2i Network, we really understand the multitude of benefits that early career researchers experience first-hand when they take part in entrepreneurial training, regardless of their subsequent career path. From new communication skills and how to engage with external organisations, to understanding how to bring their research idea to market, we have compiled a series of insightful reflections from p2i Alumni who have found invaluable lessons in the entrepreneurial training that the p2i Network offers.

 

If you are at all interested in or curious about the relevancy of entrepreneurial training for postdocs, and what it might offer researchers exploring starting a venture, looking to stay in academia or transition to industry, take a look at what our p2i alumni in academia, industry AND who started a venture have to say…

 

Reflections of p2i Network alumni in academia…

 

Bridging the Gap

 

Regardless of whether someone wants to start their own business or not, it was reflected that entrepreneurial learning opportunities offer a bridge between research and practical, real world challenges. Alumni felt the training helped them engage with the wider context surrounding their research, leading them to become richer researchers in their respective fields. 

 

One alumnus explained that whilst a researcher’s academic work may be excellent, they can have the tendency to become isolated from the rest of the world; the research might not be easily translatable into practice. 

 

“Pursuing different avenues that are peripheral to your research enriches your personality and it makes you more aware of the reality around you, and hence a more realistic researcher.” 

 - p2i Alumnus

 

Seeing Problems as Opportunities

 

Alumni felt that developing an entrepreneurial mind-set allowed them to see problems as opportunities to help develop viable solutions. 

 

“As academics, we are excellent at analysing the root cause of the problem, and as much as they enrich our understanding of the problem, these don’t lead us to a solution. So it’s about learning to approach problems as opportunities to offer solutions.”

- p2i Alumnus

 

Similarities - Academic Group Leader & Founder of a Venture

  

One researcher currently running an academic research group commented that their role is in many ways, very similar to running a start-up. They explained that you have to use the same skill set, be self-reliable, and operate under conditions of uncertainty in both instances. Therefore, they felt the entrepreneurship training actually prepared them for running their research group. 

 

“There aren’t many opportunities for researchers that really teach you how to build collaborations and integrate into the local ecosystem. You need to be convincing about how you can support yourself, fund your research, what your research group will look like, how many people it will consist of and what kind of expertise it will encapsulate.”

- p2i Alumnus

 

Time Efficiency

 

Researchers explained how the training helped them become much more selective about their to-do lists. As a researcher, you are operating under a largely self-directed nature. When an opportunity arises, you can complete a task out of pure interest if you desire to. After the entrepreneurial training, alumni reported more consideration over tasks, weighing up the risk vs. the reward, and a tendency to prioritise tasks that have a high impact return on the investment in time and effort. 

 

“Instead of continuing endless experiments and applying solution after solution, I transitioned into the habit of asking whether the next step is really needed, and how to pivot in order to progress.”

- p2i Alumnus

 

Communication Skills

 

Learning how to pitch an idea clearly and concisely was repeatedly mentioned as one of the most useful skills learned during entrepreneurial training. 

 

“When you write proposals and give panel interviews in academia, you need to convince the panel in five minutes why they should give you the money. This is not too dissimilar from a business pitch. You must have an effective presentation that conveys the message, allows people to relate and makes them want to invest in you.”

- p2i Alumnus

 

Reflections of p2i Network alumni in industry…

 

Bringing an Idea to Market

 

Researchers reported that the entrepreneurial training teaches you that there is more to consider than just talking about an invention. It teaches you how to apply that invention and introduce it to the market. They reported a newfound realisation that business skills, such as bringing an idea to market, are important (regardless of profession)…

 

“…because at the end of the day, we all need to make money somehow!”

- p2i Alumnus

 

Critical Mind-set

 

Alumni explained how the skills learned through the training really help with transitioning between academia and industry, because in industry they naturally expect you to possess such skills. 

 

“I was able to organise my thoughts better. It taught me to ask the following questions: 

1) Why are we bothered about this invention? 

2) What does it do? 

3) Where can it take us? 

I was then able to deliver what was asked of me, effectively, and straight to the point. The training teaches you to communicate your idea efficiently, and with conviction.”

- p2i Alumnus

 

The Language of Business

 

Entrepreneurial language was touched on by many researchers. They reported that the business terminology learned during the course really helped them keep up in conversations once they transitioned to industry, which would have otherwise been hard to follow in this new environment. This helped increase both their credibility and their confidence. 

 

Networking and Team Work

 

It was reflected that the opportunity to speak with people a few years ahead, in terms of career path, and learn how they have transitioned into whatever they're doing now, whether it's running a company, working in a small start-up, or running a research group, was very useful in providing clarity. Additionally, they reported how working on a small project as a team with a different group of people was helpful for expanding their networks.  

 

“It's incredibly inspiring and very interesting to have the opportunity to talk to people from different backgrounds and then work together towards a common goal. You very quickly learn to work with what you're good at. I found it reassuring, motivating, and confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction."

- p2i Alumnus

 

Reflections of p2i Network alumni who have started a venture…

 

Language

 

Much like the researchers in industry explained, alumni who have started a venture told us that they didn't understand the language of the entrepreneurship topic before the training, as researchers don’t come across these terms. They reflected that it was a great starting point into the world of business, which would later prove very useful when engaging with a range of stakeholders.

 

Creating Career Options

 

One entrepreneur commented that their eyes were opened to the prospect of entrepreneurship during the training. They had previously been concerned about loyalty towards their university, but explained how at the event they…

 

“…learned that it’s not a ‘bad thing’ to start a venture whilst at university; it can be a great synergy for the university and for researchers with the aspirations to start a venture based on their research.” 

- p2i Alumnus           

 

Support

 

Alumni reflected that the support went above and beyond the training itself, which was very helpful in the development of their venture.

 

“I stayed in touch with the mentors from the event. We had several one-two-one meetings following the training. There was also another connection I made who connected me locally with some UK partners for feedback.” 

- p2i Alumnus           

 

The Broader Picture

 

Entrepreneurs explained that during the training, they learned that it’s not all about the technology/idea. They reported feeling more connected to reality after the training, with a greater understanding of the mind set of investors and businesses.

 

“You have to know how much people are ready to pay for your solution, who is actually making the decisions and what the size of the market is.“

- p2i Alumnus           

 

So… what are you waiting for?

 

Are you ready to make bold leaps in your career? 

 

To develop your entrepreneurial mindset, learn new skills and broaden your network?

 

Regardless of your aspirations to stay in academia, transition to industry or start your own venture, start looking for opportunities to learn at your institute. 

 

You can also apply below to participate in one of the upcoming p2i opportunities and take the first step on your entrepreneurial mindset development journey.

 

Upcoming Opportunities

 

For postdocs exploring opportunities and new skills and/or at early stages of starting a venture:

 

● p2i: In Action - Half day event (16th March 2022 - 1-6pm GMT).

 

Apply here: https://bit.ly/p2iOneDayEvent2022 by noon 14th March 2022.

 

● p2i online course: "Empowering researchers to innovate"  (Cohorts in April & October 2022).

 

Apply here: https://bit.ly/April2022OnlineCourse by noon 17th April 2022.

 

● p2i: In Action - 2.5 day event (November 2022). Not yet open for applications.

 

For postdocs who are ready to make their business idea a reality, the p2i Network sponsors limited places for postdoctoral researchers from the p2i partners to participate in the following programmes (the focus is science, technology, engineering, maths, AI): 

 

● Ignite - Programme at  Cambridge Judge Business School (3rd-8th July 2022)

 

● I.E.C.T Summer School Innsbruck (August 2022, dates TBC)

 

There is a two-step application process for Ignite and I.E.C.T. Apply for Step 1 of both events here https://bit.ly/IgniteIECT2022 by noon 15th May 2022.

“The benefits of entrepreneurial training for all early career researchers, regardless of their career path.”

by The p2i Network

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Entrepreneurial Journeys

“Getting closer to my dream of running a start-up.” 

 

Julia Tischler