The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has contributed to the enhancement of the UAE's innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem through a boot camp on how to take promising ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace, which culminated with a start-up proposal contest.
Participants at the action-oriented and hands-on boot camp were briefed on various aspects of translating an idea into a business venture. The topics included project selection and team-formation, value proposition for technology, finding initial customers, development roadmap, making and managing assumptions and risk, execution modelling, funding requirements, as well as financial modelling and planning. There were also presentations on intellectual property rights, as well as company structure, valuation and fundraising.
Dr Bruce Ferguson, Head of Masdar Institute's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iInnovation), and Professor of Practice - Engineering Systems and Management, presented commemorative certificates to the aspiring entrepreneurs who participated in the boot camp.
"Hosting such an exclusive academic entrepreneurship boot camp in collaboration with MIT reflects not only our researchers' expertise in commercialisation but also our capabilities in technology transfer," said Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute. "With the support of the UAE leadership, we continue to validate the importance of research-driven innovation in diversifying the UAE's economy through entrepreneurship." The boot camp was jointly organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Masdar Institute's iInnovation. It was designed to aid academic researchers, including faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, in recognising and developing promising technology-based entrepreneurial opportunities.
At the end of the sessions, participants formed groups of 3-5 and proposed start-up concepts to a panel of three financial experts, who provided feedback and selected the most promising team as the winner. The first prize (a large box of dates) was awarded to the food safety team. There were five teams, ‘Food safety inspection,' ‘Sparticles nanotechnology,' ‘Automotive pollution reduction platform,' ‘Concentrated solar' and ‘Water from air.' Based on similar successful workshops conducted earlier at MIT and in Singapore, the boot camp at Masdar Institute was led by Dr. Charles Cooney, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Faculty Director, Deshpande Centre for Technological Innovation, MIT, and Dr. Luis Perez-Breva, Co-Director of MIT Innovation Teams Programme and Research Scientist at MIT School of Engineering.
Dr. Cooney said, "This boot camp emphasises the translation of ideas from the academic laboratory to the commercial marketplace. It is intended to introduce academic researchers to the principles of technology based entrepreneurship in a way that will help them both identify and guide their own thinking around commercialisation of technology. We believe such boot camps help faculty prepare their students and post-doctoral research staff for careers as technology entrepreneurs, either in new companies or within larger corporations." Participants were invited based on their expressed interest in technology translation, such as participation in Masdar Institute's Technology Innovation Programme (TIP) and Masdar Institute-MIT Innovation Programme (MMIP) solicitations.