A week to remember at IGNITE

1 September 2015

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This Summer Informatics Ventures sponsored three Scottish Life Sciences companies to attend one of the UK’s leading residential entrepreneurial boot camps, IGNITE, run by the University of Cambridge. Here’s how Julio, one of the participants, found the experience…

The University of Cambridge, ranked 2nd in the world for top universities this year, has been in amongst the top 5 for decades and after a week of hard work at Cambridge’s Judge Business School I can understand why. Initially, I was unsure of how much a programme like IGNITE would help me given my prior experience as I already hold a postgraduate degree from a Russell group university which was very closely related the programme of IGNITE for Life Sciences. Prior to the event reading materials were made available, most of which I was familiar with as part of an 18 month course (as opposed to a week) I completed. I noticed many of the presentations covered material that I had studied before, references to Peter Drucker and other familiar authors popped throughout the presentations. Finally, after starting and building a MedTech company from the ground up for almost two years, I had experienced many things that would be very difficult to teach in an academic and fairly structured environment.

Upon arrival and after some quick sightseeing (for which there wasn’t nearly enough time!) I was introduced to the organizers whom were very welcoming and very organised! After some initial networking, I swiftly went back to the College where I was staying and started to prepare for the journey ahead.

At the opening, the university’s Vice-chancellor expressed that one of the determining factors of why many successful companies emanate from Cambridge and stay near Cambridge is due to their friendly approach to IP, bestowing its ownership to students and graduates. One of the failures of many universities, both good or bad, big and small, has been a greed for IP, which sometimes creates a multitude of technologies that never become products and creates an environment that hinders young entrepreneurs. I could not agree more.

It crossed my mind originally that this journey was going to be easy, mostly because I already knew plenty about the topics we were going to review, however that feeling soon disappeared. From the very start the speakers did not stick to their presentation’s topics or materials, and they did so for a good reason: This was not a lecture room. It quickly became evident that this course was meant as an open discussion forum where speakers interacted with company directors. With highly accomplished individuals as speakers, most of them with many big exit experiences from the co-founders of ARM and Raspberry-Pi to billion pound deal negotiators and Chief Financial Officers of IPO biotech companies, the focus was on how their experiences could benefit us individually. We could interrupt the speakers at any point to either ask questions or seek advice.

Sessions were always followed by a cosier workshop with 5 other company directors, a very high level mentor and a final year Cambridge MBA student. I believe it was quite intentional that even though we were all from medical devices companies, we were all working in different areas and at very different stages. Some of us were at a seed stage, others at their series B while some were from charities learning to become self-sufficient. Our sharing of experiences and inward reflection with the mentors support was one of the most helpful activities we had throughout the week.

Meeting high calibre mentors at a personal level helped demystify how these geniuses work. Helping others in their struggles in their businesses allowed for unexpected personal growth of myself and the networking provided valuable leads that will help me in the years to come.

The impact of IGNITE will persist in me long beyond this year and I would like to kindly thank Informatics Ventures for making this possible.

Dr. Julio Enrique Guerrero Ontiveros is Managing Director of Metix, a medical technology company pioneering where emergency medicine begins. Metix is developing a robust handheld vital signs monitor, COREMED. Its third concept device was exhibited at the 2014 World Extreme Medicine Conference at the RSM, where it received positive feedback from many leading consumers including Defence delegates and MSF. COREMED’s target market is pre-hospital care providers.

By Dr. Julio Enrique Guerrero Ontiveros, Managing Director of Metix

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