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DisruptEd – Exploring Emerging Technology for Education, Mar 2017

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VCW - DisruptEd

Develop, test and launch your business in 54 hours! 

  • Are you working on emerging technologies that can be applied in education? 
  • Are you passionate about the next generation of educational tools and platforms at a global level?
  • Do you have innovative ideas that can be used for creating the next generation of learning experiences? 

Unveil new business opportunities with global potential for the next generation of educational technology at our upcoming Venture Creation Weekend!

Bring your enthusiasm and creativity, present your best ideas and inspire others to join your team.

You will receive feedback from our experienced mentors and pitch your idea to a panel of industry experts and investors to find out whether it is viable.

Participants of VCW DisruptEd are welcome to explore technologies in a range of areas including: speech, vision, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, mobile, gamification and others.

Who is it for?

  • You have technology that can be applied to education 
  • You need to build a team or get advice from a mentor to develop your idea
  • You have an idea and want to launch a business
  • You want to join a startup
  • You want to get inspired and to learn how to start your venture


  • Learn by the act of creating
  • Build a relevant network
  • Founder dating: use the weekend to match up with a co-founder
  • Find and build a team
  • Learn how to launch a business
  • Test viability of your idea and get feedback from mentors and judges
  • Enjoy the buzz and have fun!

Watch a video on what Cambridge English are looking for at this Venture Creation Weekend

Hi, I’m Geoff Stead. I’m a director at Cambridge English. We’re part of the University of Cambridge and not-for-profit. And our whole reason for being here is English language. Teaching it, assessing levels, supporting teachers, that’s what we do.

So, my team, we’re an Ed Tech team. We particularly look at technology and how you can use technology to reach vast numbers of underserved learners or, perhaps, support teachers and teach them how to adapt to new technologies. Right now, my phone understands what I say.

Why not make use of that? Use a language processing piece as part of helping students practise and rehearse or improve their accent. We’ve got some fantastic systems online that can read your text and analyse them and give you feedback on the level of language you’ve used. And so why not use that to support and scaffold teaching? So that’s what we do.

And, particularly, right now, we’re very, very eager on trying to encourage the wider ecosystem of Ed Tech. So if you’ve got a startup, you’ve got some ideas, you’re building some technology piece around language learning, we’d love to hear from you, see if we can help.

At any moment in time, there’s millions of learners, across the world, all trying to learn English. A wide range of scenarios, classroom, sitting at home alone, refugees trying to adapt to a new land, the language you need to travel and study and work in other countries. And we’re interested in trying to support all of them. So if this interests you as well, come and talk to us.

Many thanks to AstraZeneca, who sponsored 10 free places for women on this Venture Creation Weekend.

in partnership with

Logo cambridgeenglishlanguageassessment 1134x183 1

DisruptEd – exploring emerging technology for education

Geoff Stead, Director of Digital & New Products at Cambridge English Language Assessment, blogs on the rise of EdTech and why those with an education-based startup should sign up for this Venture Creation Weekend.

Read the blog post

Building for education

Mark Andrews, Digital Learning Programme Manager at the School, blogs on four thoughts that you may wish to consider whilst developing your proposition at the DisruptEd Venture Creation Weekend.

Read the blog post

Friday 3 March 2017


Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School

Foyer, CJBS


Dinner and networking



Welcome and introduction to the weekend



Idea generation exercise



Pitch your idea



Vote for your favourite ideas



Build your team



Start working in your teams on your ideas

Breakout rooms

Saturday 4 March 2017


Arrival and breakfast refreshments

Foyer, CJBS


Business Model Canvas presentation



Teams work on their ideas

Breakout rooms


Tea and coffee break / Sign up for mentoring sessions

Common Room


Teams work on their ideas

Breakout rooms


Sandwich lunch

Foyer, CJBS


Teams check-in, report progress and call for help

Foyer, CJBS



Breakout spaces


Tea and coffee break

Foyer, CJBS



Breakout spaces


Beer and pizza

Foyer, CJBS


Teams check-in, report progress and call for help

Foyer, CJBS


Teams work on their ideas

Breakout rooms

Sunday 5 March 2017


Arrival and breakfast refreshments

Common Room


How to pitch presentation



Teams work on their ideas / prepare for mentoring sessions

Breakout rooms



Breakout spaces


Tea and coffee available

Common Room


Sandwich lunch

Common Room


Teams finalise presentations

Breakout rooms


Tea and coffee available

Common Room


All presentations should be submitted and uploaded on PC



Final presentations






Presentation by a guest venture



Winners announced and awards presented




Royal Cambridge Hotel

David Carter

Research Administrator

Faculty of Education

David Carter is the Faculty of Education Research Administrator. His role acts to improve the success in Faculty research activities by providing professional, high-level research support to all members of staff and students. It is a varied role which requires a broad knowledge of research management and finance. He is also exposed to a multitude of Education projects on a daily basis. His two additional roles are as Enterprise Champion and as a representative on the University Brand Advisory Panel. As an Enterprise Champion he acts as a first point of contact for Faculty members who want advice on bringing their ideas and expertise to market. As a member of the Brand Advisory Panel he shares opinion on the suitability of use of the University brand with products and services applying to use it.

David achieved a Master of Philosophy in Materials Science, after graduating with an Engineering Bachelor of Honours degree from the University of Sussex. He has both an MA and an MSc.

Peter Cowley

UK Angel Investor

Peter Cowley studied Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, now lives near Cambridge and has set up 12 companies over the last 30+ years. He is UK business angel of the year 2014/15 and a Fellow in Entrepreneurship at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Peter has spec-built several domestic houses and refurbished many others, including the £1.7 million Cambridge Advice Centre. Peter has been voluntary chair, treasurer and trustee of numerous charities for over 15 years – the Citizens Advice service, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity and a local private sixth form college. 

 He has been a very active angel investor for many years (currently 40 investments) and is the Investment Director of the Marshall of Cambridge, Martlet Corporate Angel division, and a board member of Cambridge Angels. He has led many investment deals and is on the board of seven angel-backed technology startups.

Tara Hein-Phillips

Managing Director

Vestar Consulting

Tara Hein-Phillips’s professional experience as a digital business leader spans 18 years, from global strategy and new product design to the management and implementation of large-scale digital projects and initiatives. She has spent the last 13 years running her own consultancy working with both large and small companies to create memorable digital experiences with a particular expertise and passion for digital education and innovation.

Tara currently spends 25 per cent of her time as a strategic consultant advising US- and UK-based tech startups, 50 per cent of her time working with mission-driven organisations to help them to develop sustainable digital growth plans, and 25 per cent of her time working with large global corporations to innovate and change their organisations facilitated primarily through digital initiatives, both internally and externally. She is fortunate to work with government ministers, think tanks, Chairpeople/CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and progressive entrepreneurs at all career stages, which allows her to bring a well-rounded perspective to each new business challenge she faces.

Geoff Stead

Director Digital & New Products

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Geoff Stead is Director, Digital & New Products at Cambridge English Language Assessment. He is a global expert in the use of mobile and emerging technologies for learning and teaching and has built successful tech-innovation teams in both the UK and the US.

Previously he was Senior Director of Mobile Learning at Qualcomm, California, leading an award winning team who developed an enterprise app store with over 40 learning and training apps.

He runs and can be found on Twitter at @geoffstead.

Ahsan Zaman

Executive Director

World Media Online

An alumnus of the University of Oxford and the London College of Fashion, Ahsan is a media & publishing entrepreneur and investor based in London. As the Founding Director of IoT World Forum, and the Impact Investing World Forum, Ahsan is passionate about innovating the IoT (Internet of Things), Digital Health and Impact Investing Ecosystems.

Ahsan is currently the Executive Director of World Media Online, a London-based B2B publishing & media house focused heavily on the emerging IoT Market. Ahsan is also a board member of the International IoT Council, one of the leading international think tanks, that has representation from global connectivity players in the IoT ecosystem, including Sprint, AT&T, Telus, Orange, TELE2 and SAP, amongst many others.

Claudia Bickford-Smith

Director of Development

Cambridge International Examinations

Claudia Bickford-Smith joined Cambridge International Examinations as Director of Development in October 2015.

Claudia oversees a team of 80 which develops international curricula and qualifications, and directs online support services for teachers and students, including computer-based assessments.

She is responsible for partnership and commercial strategies, building relationships with providers of learning resources, both print and digital linked to Cambridge International qualifications.

Claudio Carnino

Software Engineer and Entrepreneur

Claudio Carnino created a location-based event recommendation service in 2010, called Hinii. Initial success created a partnership with Groupon and Samsung. In 2012, he started Fanchimp, a social media marketing tool for small businesses. He raised two seed rounds from StartupChile and Wayra.

Claudio started his career as full stack web developer, to be able to create his own products. He is now spending the majority of his time on iOS development and mobile products.

Mark Dang

UK & EU Director


Mark Dang is passionate about building great business models that make use of technologies to solve real-world problems. He has been running his business for three years, focusing on software products, and has been CTO for a social dating mobile app startup in the last two years. Although his background was in electrical and electronics engineering, he started his professional life with a short period working in management consulting. Now he is an expert in digital transformation, software systems and technical strategies. Personally, Mark loves to reconnect with Cambridge after a few years living in London.

Tim Gifford



Tim is an expert in content development for digital products for English language learners. Tim has worked in ELT publishing since 2008, as Senior Editor on Touchstone Blended Learning and as a Commissioning Editor at SELT, working on online learning products for Turkish university students.

Prior to that, Tim taught English in China for five years.

Shiri Gold

Technical Marketing & Business Development


Shiri is an advisor, mentor and investor in the startup space. Shiri has over 15 years’ experience in the technology sector, in various roles including marketing, strategy and business development, project and product management. Currently Shiri is a business development manager at Broadcom, a Fortune 500 technology company. Shiri has an engineering degree as well as an MBA (from the University of Cambridge). Shiri founded two companies; a failed payment app business and a moderately successful tea business.

Shiri has been advising startups since 2011, helping companies achieve over $2m in seed funding. Shiri’s main interests are technology, mobile, biotech and fintech. She currently has three live investments and is a non-executive director of one of these.

Laurie Harrison



Laurie is a specialist in the development of digital content and products for learners of English.

Laurie has degrees in English Language & Literature and Electronic Publishing, and over 20 years of professional experience in language teaching, software development and educational publishing, including senior management positions at Cambridge University Press, where he oversaw digital publishing in the English Language Teaching division.

Mainda Kiwelu

Marketing Communications Manager

Cambridge International Examinations

Mainda has been working for national and global organisations in the UK for over 12 years. She has industry experience in publishing, information technology, television, travel, education and legal services. She has predominantly worked as a marketer with global portfolio responsibility and has successfully supported key business development initiatives in the US, South America, Europe and Asia.

With a strong belief that we all benefit as individuals and as a society when we are empowered to: Make. Be. Do, Mainda is looking to be involved with enterprising individuals whose inspiring ideas, when developed, impact our lives – our physical well-being, the way we learn, how we are entertained, engage with others or experience the world around us.

In addition to the startup scene, Mainda enjoys travel, fitness, art, drumming, coffee and cafes.

Anna Lloyd

Head of Education Technology

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Anna Lloyd is Head of Education Technology for Cambridge English Language Assessment and has been working in the English Language field for more than 15 years.

For the past 10 years, she has been working in digital learning, primarily in product development. She has developed everything from apps and courses to immersive games, virtual schools and MOOCs.

Prior to working for Cambridge, she built and led the digital learning department at Kaplan International English. Anna’s background is originally in teaching, academic management, course development and school management.

Sanjana Mehta

Head of Market & Customer Insight

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Dr Sanjana Mehta works as Head of Market & Customer Insight at Cambridge English. She is responsible for conducting commercial research to inform the sales and marketing strategies of the organisation.

Sanjana has worked and studied in India, Belgium and the UK. She has a PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Cambridge. Sanjana is interested in how technology can individualise learning and create more equal opportunities for educational success.

In her free time, she likes to go on long walks and also enjoys watching independent cinema at the Arts Picturehouse.

Sudesh Prasad

Senior Managing Director UK


Sudesh is Senior Managing Director for UK operations at Intrinsiq, an educational technology software provider. He has a strong background in multi-stakeholder projects within the international language sector, including schools, guardianships, universities and tertiary providers.

Sudesh’s task has been to restructure Intrinsiq to be more efficient and implement process driven methods within the company to provide better solutions for end user clients. In the last two years he has overseen the doubling of company turnover and gain international market share.

His background is in art history, however he has been involved in the tech sector for the last decade. He speaks four languages and is currently working with his partners to develop the Australian and EU market for Intrinsiq.

Jo Sayers



Jo works mainly on internal and external product development and on developing partnerships with technology companies and software developers.

Jo has worked in ELT since 2006, most recently as Product Manager for English at busuu and eLearning Academic Lead for EC English.

Jo is a regular conference speaker and former Technology Coordinator for MaWSIG. He is interested in how technology can improve the lives of learners and works to improve the learning experiences of the products developed by ELTjam.

Jess Wakelin

Digital Learning Designer

Jess Wakelin is a Digital Learning Designer specialising in mobile learning design. Her work can be found in high-end corporate learning apps, in medical support apps for disaster relief, and in rural classrooms in Africa.

She is known for ‘cutting through the hype’ to ensure that any learning app is delivering something that the learners actually want, and her clients end up with a usable, engaging, innovative product.

Joanna Weber

Customer Insight Researcher

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Joanna Weber has worked for Cambridge English Language Assessment for 15 years and is part of the Market & Customer Insight team, providing market research and analysis with a focus on the education technology sector.

In her spare time, she has developed a number of award-winning video game ‘mod’ expansion packs for Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Morrowind, and is part of the development team for Skywind. Joanna’s background is originally in blogging and journalism.

Hanadi Jabado

Executive Director

The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Hanadi is passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. A serial entrepreneur herself, she has a strong understanding of the needs of early stage ventures and entrepreneurs. Since 2010 she has been an advisor to startups all over the globe in every conceivable sector.

Hanadi sits on the advisory board of several startups at various stages of development and growth and is a director of [email protected] CIC.

In 2016 Hanadi’s work to support entrepreneurs earned her recognition as one of the Maserati100.

Sayara Thompson (Organiser)

Programme Manager

The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Sayara manages a few programmes at the Entrepreneurship Centre, such as the Venture Creation Weekend, Ignite and the SME Growth Challenge Programme. She previously worked in Alumni Relations and for the MFin programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. With a background in IT and research she has experience in working in International organisations and the private sector. She is a great networker and is always keen to help people to connect.

Mark Andrews

Digital Learning Programme Manager

Cambridge Judge Business School

Mark has over 10 years’ experience of delivering effective digital educational and assessment experiences that span a wide range of educational levels from primary through to executive and corporate education. By partnering with startups and by leveraging the edtech eco system he has designed and implemented innovative solutions in sectors such as international education, business and medical education sectors.

Currently responsible for digital learning initiatives here at CJBS, Mark is interested in turning great technology solutions into meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences.

Stephen Parkes

Founder & CEO

Go Enrol

Stephen Parkes is the founder of Go Enrol, a company that aims to widen access to education across the world. Since its launch Go Enrol has helped people in 188 countries discover, apply to and enrol on courses. Stephen’s experience spans over a decade working in education and private equity with time spent in the UK, China and other emerging economies in Asia.

Christoph Hartwig

Programme Assistant

The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Christoph holds a business degree from Germany and a law degree from the US. He has worked in a variety of industries and ventures in Germany, Australia and the UK before settling in Cambridge. This is his first Venture Creation Weekend and his first brush with education technology, and he is looking forward to learning a lot.

Sophia Bishell

Marketing Assistant

The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Following graduating from her university degree in drama in 2015, Sophia set up her own musician-booking agency startup. She has since presented opportunities to small and large business ventures, and booked emerging talent and world-class musicians out to private and public events. Sophia is currently working in the Entrepreneurship Centre, and supports the team as Marketing Assistant.

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