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Innovation in SmartTech and in Education, Nov 2019

Back to Past VCWs

Are you interested in entrepreneurship and want to learn how to start a venture? Are you interested in connecting things and creating products and services to make a smarter world? Or do you have novel ideas or technologies to transform education?

Kickstart your entrepreneurial career and start developing your venture at the next Venture Creation Weekend on 22-24 November 2019 at Cambridge Judge Business School. It's a chance to test your smart tech or novel education business idea, build a team and pitch to investors in 50 hours!

The Entrepreneurship Centre is working in partnership with Santander Universities and in collaboration with Shape to offer aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to explore opportunities, ideas and applications in the following areas:

IoT and connected devices;

  • Applications of sensors
  • Big data
  • AI and smart solutions

Novel solutions in education and learning;

  • Promote Creativity in Education
  • Next generation of learning and formative assessment solutions
  • Immersive learning and simulation
  • Solutions to aid wellbeing

Why attend the Innovation in SmartTech and in Education VCW?

It's a chance to create, test and validate your SmartTech or Education venture ideas or applications with industry experts. You can get inspiration from your peers and mentors, learn the basics of building a business and how to collaborate with others in a team environment. Some of you can go 'founder-dating', i.e. use the weekend to match up with one or more co-founders for your business. All participants will work together in teams on customer development, business models, pitching practice and building product prototypes (where appropriate). The most popular ideas are pitched to a panel of judges formed of industry leaders and investors who can provide expert feedback and analysis.

At the end of the VCW, you will have developed your entrepreneurial skills, kick-started your venture, enjoyed the buzz of exploring and creating ideas; and potentially be ready to launch your business together with a talented team.

In addition, one or more of the participating teams will be invited for an interview to join our Accelerate Cambridge incubator programme delivered by the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre. Please note that successful application is dependent on whether the team meets the selection criteria.

Find out more about the content and format of the CJBS Venture Creation Weekends

When is it?

The Innovation in SmartTech and in Education Venture Creation Weekend starts promptly at 17:00 on Friday 22 November and ends at 19:00 on Sunday 24 November.

The exact dates and times are:

  • Fri 22 November 2019, 17:00-18:00 - Keynote speaker (open to everyone)
  • Fri 22 November 2019, 19:00-23:00
  • Sat 23 November 2019, 08:30-23:00
  • Sun 24 November 2019, 08:30-19:00 (followed by a dinner from 19:00 to close)

The venue is Cambridge Judge Business School, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG. View our location and directions

Why attend the Innovation in SmartTech and in Education VCW?

This is the best business training I have ever had! I am very much inspired and excited to try to start a venture.
Wade Suen, PhD student, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Biotech and Healthcare VCW, June 2019.

Friday 22 November 2019

16:30-17:00 Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School Foyer, CJBS
17:00-18:00 Guest Speaker: Blaise Thomson, Founder of VocalIQ LT1
18:00-19:00 Buffet Dinner & Networking CJBS
19:05-19:10 Welcome & introduction LT4
19:10-19:15 Welcome from partners LT4
19:15-20:00 Half-Baked session LT4
20:00-20:30 Pitch your idea LT4
20:30-20:45 Vote for your favourite ideas LT4
20:45-21:00 Team building LT4
21:00-23:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out rooms

Saturday 23 November 2019

08:30-09:00 Arrival and refreshments; Sign up for mentoring sessions Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:40 Business Model Canvas presentation LT3
09:40-11:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces
11:00-11:30 Tea / Coffee break and Sign up for mentoring sessions Common Room, CJBS
11:30-13:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces
13:00-14:00 Sandwich Lunch Common Room, CJBS
14:00-15:30 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
15:30-16:00 Tea / Coffee break Common Room, CJBS
16:00-18:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
18:00-19:00 Networking over beer and pizza Common Room, CJBS
19:00-19:30 Teams check-in, report progress and call for help; Sign up for Sunday mentoring sessions Common Room, CJBS
19:30-23:00 Teams work on their ideas Break out spaces

Sunday 24 November 2019

08:30-09:00 Arrival and breakfast refreshments Common Room, CJBS
09:00-09:30 How to pitch your idea LT3
09:30-10:00 Teams work on their ideas / prepare for mentoring Break out spaces
10:00-11:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
11:00-11:30 Tea / Coffee available Common room
11:30-13:00 Mentoring 4th/6th floor pods
13:00-14:00 Sandwich Lunch Common room
14:00-16:00 Teams finalise presentations Break out spaces
15:30-16:00 Tea / Coffee available Common room
16:15-16:30 All presentations should be submitted and uploaded on PC LT3
16:30-18:15 Final Presentations LT3
18:15-18:30 Break and Judging  
18:30-18:40 Winners announced and Awards presented LT3
18:40-18:50 Closure LT3
18:50-21:00 Closing Dinner Royal Cambridge Hotel
Blaise Thomson

Blaise Thomson (Guest Speaker)

Founder and CEO, VocalIQ (acquired by Apple), former Chief Architect for Siri at Apple

Blaise was the Founder and CEO at VocalIQ, a company providing machine learning tools for building personal assistants. The company was acquired by Apple in 2015 and he continued there until recently as part of Siri’s leadership team, leading Apple’s Cambridge UK Site and acting as the Chief Architect for Siri’s understanding.

Prior to VocalIQ was a research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge working on machine learning.

Shiri Gold

Shiri Gold

Programmes Consultant, Healthcare Ventures

Shiri has over 18 years' experience in the technology sector, in various roles including marketing, strategy and business development, project and product management.

Shiri has worked in varied settings - from Fortune 100 companies such as Intel to founding her own startups. In the last three years she specialised in the Medical Technology/BioTech sector. Shiri is currently responsible for MedTech/BioTech related programmes at the Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School.

Shiri has been advising startups since 2011, helping companies grow and achieve over $2 million in seed funding. Shiri's main interests are technology, medtech, biotech and fintech. Shiri has an engineering degree as well as a Cambridge MBA.

John Lee

John Lee

CFO, DisplayLink Corp and Chairman of the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds Investment Committee

John is currently Chief Financial Officer of DisplayLink Corp, a market leading USB graphics software and hardware business. DisplayLink is one of the UK’s most successful semiconductor companies. He has been actively involved for many years in the Cambridge technology scene and has been Chief Financial Officer and/or an investor in a number of start-ups, many of which have resulted in successful exits or IPOs.

Prior to his current role, he was CEO of Velocix, a leading provider of content delivery network solutions which was sold to Alcatel-Lucent and, prior to that, Chief Financial Officer of a number of early-stage technology based businesses.

For the past eight years, John has been Chairman of the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds Investment Committee and has been involved, for the past twenty five years, in supporting the emergence of University of Cambridge technology.

Ben Knight

Ben Knight

Director, Cambridge University Press

Ben Knight is Director for Language and Pedagogy Research at Cambridge University Press. He leads on using high quality academic research to develop more effective learning materials and resources. With his expertise in curriculum development and pedagogical research, he helps to underpin Cambridge’s educational resources with research-based insights and conceptual models.

Ben has taught in schools and universities in Europe, Africa and Asia, and has worked on educational reform projects from Mexico to Japan. He also worked on a range of projects developing digital solutions for learning and assessment, both for language and vocational skills.

Stanislaw Lewak

Stanislaw Lewak

Serial entrepreneur and VP Business Development, TFLH (USA)

Stanislaw Lewak is a Senior Advisor to leading European and US technology companies on the development and implementation of growth strategies, financing and strategic alliances. He is a serial entrepreneur with over four decades of experience in technology, adapting technology to people, rather than vice versa.

Stanislaw co-founded Ad.Net, one of Eastern Europe’s largest Internet advertising networks, developed Krakow Business Park (one of Europe’s largest technology parks) and founded The Polished Group SA, a software company acquired by Prokom Software/Asseco Group (a top 10 European IT services company). The Polished Group developed the original Microsoft Passport, one of the first technologies to facilitate profiling and personalisation online.

Stanislaw also developed the strategy for Reality Technologies that transitioned the company’s offline investment management system to a fully online wealth management platform marketed jointly with Time Inc.'s Money Magazine. Reality Technologies was sold to Reuters in 1993. Stanislaw’s first startup, Levco, was a Macintosh hardware company that he sold to Scientific Micro Systems in 1987.

Stanislaw attended the University of California, San Diego, where he studied electrical engineering, computer science and literature. He believes that problems are but solutions in reverse.

Andrew Nye

Andrew Nye

Deputy Director: New Product Development, Cambridge Assessment English 

Andrew Nye is Deputy Director in the New Product Development team at Cambridge Assessment English, part of the University of Cambridge, working on applying digital technologies to language learning and reaching around five million digital learners a year.

He is experienced in setting up and running a 'start up' team within an organisation, and driving creativity and innovation within that team and beyond. 

He has worked for Cambridge Assessment for the last 14 years, prior to which he worked in English language teaching as a teacher, teacher trainer and academic manager. He has a first degree in modern languages and an MBA.

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews

Digital Learning Programme Manager, Cambridge Judge Business School

Mark has over 13 years' experience of delivering effective digital educational and assessment experiences and digital strategy that span a wide range of levels from primary through to postgraduate and corporate education. By partnering with startups and by leveraging the EdTech ecosystem, he has designed and implemented learning solutions in sectors such as international education, business and medical education sectors.

Currently responsible for Digital Learning at Cambridge Judge Business School and a co-convener of the Shape Education initiative, Mark is interested in turning great technology solutions into meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences.

Claudia Bickford-Smith

Claudia Bickford-Smith

Director, Education Services, Oxford University Press

Claudia brings over 30 years’ experience of developing profitable market-leading learning content and assessment solutions across a wide range of contexts, subjects and levels, while building and supporting teams to support growth and excellent delivery.

Claudia has worked at Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment over the last 11 years and has led organisational change within complex organisational structures, creating a consistent and data-driven approach to product portfolio management, product lifecycle management, and investment governance.

Simon Ford

Simon Ford

Founder, Mbed at Arm; Director, MakeSpace

Simon Ford spent 17 years at Arm where his roles included Technical Lead for the ARM v7/NEON architecture that helped launch the smartphone era of computing, and founder of Mbed that grew to become one of the leading IoT OS platforms in the world and helped lead Arm in to the IoT services business.

Simon also founded Makespace, a 4000 square foot community workshop in central Cambridge filled with laser cutters, 3D printers, and lots of people making things.

Dan Frost

Dan Frost

Learning Technology Lead, Cambridge Assessment English

Dan Frost is Learning Technology Lead at Cambridge Assessment English which involves experimenting and building cool new products in education. This covers everything from core software development to experimentation and innovation in VR, blockchain and other 'buzzword' tech.

Dan has spent the majority of his career as a Technical Director leading development teams and as a consultant providing technical and strategic advice to startups, SMEs and the public sector.

Gifford Tim

Tim Gifford

Co-founder, ELTjam

Tim is a learning designer with expertise in digital content development for English language learners. With the ELTjam team, Tim works with organisations to conceptualise and create learning products that are based on research-driven pedagogical principles.

Jonathan Hale

Jon Hale

Investor, Mott MacDonald Ventures

Jon is an investor at Mott MacDonald Ventures, a previous CFO-in-a-box consultant, and a trained engineer. His current focus at Mott is to support and invest in founders focused on tackling the world’s most pressing challenges, including urbanisation, climate change and infrastructure optimisation.

His specific interest areas include smart cities, urban tech, clean energy, and construction (though, the list goes on). In the past, Jon has helped founders assess business ideas, build robust financial models, and navigate fundraising.

He is always eager to engage founders, from any industry, to provide casual advice or to simply chat technology. Feel free to connect with him through LinkedIn.

Ward Hills

Dr Ward Hills

Serial Entrepreneur and Director at MakeSpace

Ward is an experienced CEO, Director and Chairman of technology and services firms. His interests range from cybersecurity firms like AbedGraham, to entrepreneurial networks like Makespace. AbedGraham, and its US subsidiary CCDS, provide cybersecurity and IT advice for NHS, the EC, multinational vendors and US hospitals. Makespace is a hackspace where 400 engineers, scientists and artist work with over 300 companies on hardware and software projects spanning aerospace, consumer and healthcare.

Ward was a co-founder and CEO of the medical device company, Pneumacare, which used 3D reconstructions to identify and track respiratory disease. He was also CEO of Ionscope, a bio-nanometrology instrument maker, and OpenIOLabs, an IoT firm. Both firms were acquired by AIM-listed companies, AIM: SDI and DMTR. He is an Institute of Directors certified director and active investor in companies above and others such as Syndicate Room.

Nicola Mazzucato

Nicola Mazzucato

Senior Software Engineer, ARM 

Nicola has over 18 years’ engineering experience, spanning from electronics, electrical design and software. He has worked as employee and self-employed for small and medium industry companies, research startups and non-profit organisations.

He has experience in identifying and transforming customers’ needs into profitable engineering solutions. As part of his experience, he gained the essential skills to run a small business, strengthened during his attendance at Ignite in 2017.

Nicola holds two BSc in engineering, an MSc from Leicester University. He is a Chartered Engineer and inventor of a nano-material electrical application.

James Parton

James Parton

Managing Director, The Bradfield Centre and Founder, Land & Expand

James is the Managing Director of The Bradfield Centre in Cambridge and runs Land & Expand, an advisory business which has supported numerous startups & scale-ups.

During its first two years of operation, The Bradfield Centre has supported more than 130 high growth tech companies, created more than 200 jobs, and has hosted over 600 entrepreneurial events.

At San Francisco based startup Twilio, James was their first hire outside of the US, building their European business from scratch and running it through to IPO. Previously James performed a number of innovation and product management roles at O2 and Telefonica, launching more than 20 products to market.

An active contributor to the wider tech community, James co-hosts a podcast and has sat on two not-for-profit trade organisation boards; the Application Developers Alliance and the Mobile Ecosystem Forum.

Devika Thapar

Devika Thapar

Partner and COO, Wilbe

Devika is Partner and COO at Wilbe where she helps the brightest scientists commercialise research to solve some of the world's biggest problems using defensible technologies. Wilbe provides founders with the critical business and funding support needed through the first twelve of months of commercialisation.

Prior to Wilbe, Devika spent over five years at IBM Watson commercialising artificial intelligence solutions at scale for large enterprises across USA and Europe. She did this in a few capacities; leading sales and business development in Europe, managing the development of new products and as Chief of Staff based in the NYC headquarters. She began her career as a strategy consultant with Accenture.

Devika is a Board Member at STEM from Dance, a New York non-profit that combines her personal and professional passion for STEM and dance to empower minority girls to be our next generation of engineers and scientists. Devika completed her MBA from Yale University where she also led the Entrepreneurship Club; working closely with the university's tech transfer office to evaluate patents for commercialisation. She completed her bachelors degree in economics from St. Stephens College India.

Owen Thompson

Director, Cambridge Space Technologies and Oxbridge Watches; Advisor, Weapons Systems Integration & Mission Support

Owen has over 13 years' leadership experience as a Commissioned Officer in the military, flying fighter jets for the Royal Air Force and gaining proficiency in global defence engagement and diplomacy, culminating in a high-pressure leadership role as a Squadron Leader on a front-line Eurofighter Typhoon squadron.

Owen subsequently transitioned into business, successfully creating and running two start-up businesses in his first year out of the military including Oxbridge Watches and Cambridge Space Technologies. Owen has recent experience of conducting successful Cambridge-based fundraising rounds as well as effective B2B licensing and legal contract negotiations on a national scale, startup team-building, management & leadership, IP protection, and many other facets of early-stage business growth.

Qualified as an Electronic Warfare Instructor, Owen is familiar with high-tech systems and is well positioned to advise on specialist technical queries, as well as startup business growth and leadership across a multitude of sectors.

Startup mentors

Veena Adityan

Veena Adityan

Co-founder and CEO, Smartbell

Veena has extensive expertise in the field of enterprise cloud platforms and big data solutions with over ten years of experience with She started Smartbell, keen to bring her software and business skills to help farming industry improve its attractiveness to the younger generation through improved profitability and use of technology.

She loves brainstorming with entrepreneurs to navigate market validation, articulating the pitch and developing business model.

Jose Chitty

Jose Chitty

Co-founder and COO, Smartbell 

Jose is a Chief Operations Officer and one of the founders of Smartbell. Smartbell believes that the best way to tackle food security in the livestock industry is to improve animal welfare and empower farmers with information. Smartbell’s sensor technology and data analytics platform for remote monitoring tracks livestock health and wellbeing. Over long term, it provides predictive analysis for sustainable livestock farming.

Jose is a mechanical engineer with a specialisation in automation and has an MBA from the University of Cambridge. Jose moved across five different countries while working for UK firm Aggreko, the world’s largest provider of temporary power rentals, where he worked in the technical training department.

Jose’s areas of expertise: business improvement, technology development, process control, training and development, business models, idea assessment, operations management, agile development.

John Doherty

John Doherty

Founder and CEO, Orca Scan

John Doherty is a tech entrepreneur with 20 years of software development experience building products for companies such as ADP, RR Donnelly and Cambridge University.

John is the Founder and CEO of Orca Scan, a smartphone-based barcode system. John has a keen interest in simplifying complex systems, UX and rapid prototyping.

Oli Hilbourne

Oli Hilbourne

Co-founder, Outfield

Oli Hilbourne is one of the founders of Outfield, a Cambridge based agri-tech startup. Oli's background is in aerospace engineering, and he has previously worked at Marshall Aerospace on both military and civil aircraft design projects.

Outfield uses drones and imagery analysis to accurately predict yields in high value fruit crops, reducing food waste and improving farm sustainability. Oli's areas of expertise include robotics, machine learning and agricultural systems, and he has a passion for technology with real world impacts

Jamie McNaught

Jamie McNaught

CEO, Solidi

Graduating with an honours degree in computing science from the University of Strathclyde, Jamie interned with and became an Analyst at Goldman Sachs, training in New York and based in the Equities Trading Technology Team in London.

More recently he has worked in embedded, mobile, private wealth management, fraud detection and Big Data analytics for firms and clients in the US, UK, South Africa and South Korea. Jamie has been a crypto enthusiast and user since late 2010, having mined, developed, hacked, argued and promoted it.

Jamie's most recent startup, Solidi, helps people buy and sell crypto currencies in the UK and is developing blockchain technology to revolutionise international payments and foreign exchange. He is keenly interested in the current open banking and fintech revolution which will finally lower the cost and barriers of entry to financial systems both in the UK and across the globe.

Jamie works across a broad remit of technologies from Assembler and C to C++, Python, PHP and NodeJS.

Andrew Hatcher

Andrew Hatcher (Main facilitator)

Mentor in Residence at Cambridge Judge Business School and MD at the Applied Knowledge Network (MAPP)

Andrew has a long history of identifying, developing and managing innovation within corporate environments and notably created and implemented a venture creation system while working for Reuters, the European media group. His career at Reuters culminated in a role as CEO of an Asian-based Internet trading corporate spin-out in Singapore which he took through initial VC funding and on to a trade sale.

Since then he has been involved in the creation and development of a series of companies including Investing for Good, Greenfield Ventures, Working Knowledge and The Mapp and is involved as a non-executive director at several growing technology companies.

With a personal corporate history that includes journalism, software development, project management, marketing and strategic sales. Andrew draws on a wealth of experience in all aspects of business management gained through working internationally, predominantly in the US and UK in sectors that include Oil and Gas, Media, Education and Healthcare.

Andrew is an accomplished author including, Inventuring - why big companies must think small (McGraw Hill, 2003), Services (Kogan Page, 2013), Marketing Metrics (CMP, 2015), Innovation in Marketing (CMP, 2016), Marketing Strategy (CMP, 2016) and Contemporary Challenges (CMP, 2017). These books reflect Andrew’s extensive experience in the areas of business start-up and in the specialist area of innovation management, marketing and corporate venturing.

Andrew received both a BSc in Engineering from the University of London, an MBA in international business from the Cass Business School and is a Fellow of Cambridge Marketing Colleges.

Sayara Thompson

Sayara Thompson (Organiser)

Programme Manager, The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Sayara manages a number of programmes at the Entrepreneurship Centre, such as the Venture Creation Weekend and Ignite. 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 education, international organisations (Médecins Sans Frontières, UNDP) and the private sector. She is a great networker and is always keen to help people to connect.

Joselte Hollander

Zizi Hollander (Organiser)

Programme Administrator, The Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School

Zizi manages Santander Universities SME Internship programme. She has a passion for business and, in particular, working alongside entrepreneurs. Amongst her happiest and most enduring achievements was the co-founding of a weekly football newspaper in South Africa called Soccer-Laduma (Laduma is the Zulu word for goal). Under her stewardship, Soccer-Laduma grew into the biggest-selling newspaper in the country with impressive profit margins to boot.

Zizi has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of South Africa and extensive experience in a range of different industries and roles.

Maximilian Ge

Maximilian Ge

Industry Liaison, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Maximilian has over 12 years of experience working on tech and entrepreneurship programmes in the Cambridge innovation ecosystem. He is a co-founder of Oxbridge Angels and worked across the University of Cambridge at the Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering Department, Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences, Biotechnology, Computer Laboratory, Maxwell Centre and Cambridge Judge Business School.

Maximilian has a background in maths and computer science and experience working on tech startups in the UK and Germany (Techstars). He is an organiser of SVC2UK Cambridge (Silicon Valley Comes to the UK) and active as an advisor to EPOC (Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge), CUE (Cambridge University Entrepreneurs), CUTEC (Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club), Hack Cambridge Foundation and local startups.