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Early Career Researchers contributing to the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

07 Mar 2024

How the Researcher to Innovator programme encourages and supports research colleagues to develop entrepreneurial mind-sets, confidence, commercial awareness and resilience.

R2I participants

Some of our early career researchers pitched their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs, funders and commercialisation experts – and five projects took away Innovation Enabling Awards.

The researchers had all completed the Researcher to Innovator (R2I) programme, an exciting entrepreneurship training programme for colleagues with ambitions to develop commercial ventures and create impact from their academic studies.

The Options Roundabout event was the culmination of the programme, hosted in our MEC Enterprise Zone, a dedicated entrepreneurship space in the Alliance Manchester Business School. 

The R2I programme aims to inspire and accelerate the translation of the knowledge created through academic research into products, services or processes to deliver tangible benefit through a series of bespoke workshops and mentoring opportunities. The workshops help researchers articulate their ideas by taking them through a lean start-up pathway to explore the commercial potential of their research.

The Innovation Enabling Awards, sponsored by the Engineers in Business Fellowship, are granted to acknowledge the impact and growth potential with early career researchers receiving between £2,000 to £10,000 to further develop the commercial potential of their ideas and businesses.

Award winners

The award winners were:

  • NeuWave - AI solutions for rapid offshore renewables transition, Jana Stella (School of Engineering)
  • Purple Point – A precise and cheaper option for defeating chlamydia, Jorge A. Servert (School of Biological Sciences)
  • Transforming ​the Future of ​Bone Implants, Dr Nazanin Mirhosseini​ (School of Engineering)
  • Roboglove, Dr Anthony Siming Chen (School of Engineering)
  • DISSCO (The Diabetes Severity Score), Dr Salwa Zghebi (School of Health Sciences)

Dr Chen said: “I am thrilled to have won the innovation award from the R2I programme, as it marks a significant milestone in our mission to advance robotics and AI technologies within the biomedical and life science sector.

“This recognition reaffirms our unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible and driving meaningful change through technology innovation.

“I am profoundly grateful for the invaluable support we received throughout the 12-week programme, and I am excited to continue driving forward, bringing our visionary solutions to market, and reshaping the future of healthcare.”

Dr Laura Etchells, Enterprise Business Development Manager at the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre, said: “Congratulations to everyone for their dedication, commitment and hard work throughout the programme. I’m really excited to continue supporting the entrepreneurs and following the progress of the ideas over the coming months.”

Aline Miller, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering and Associate Dean for Business Engagement and Innovation, presented the awards: “It was a real privilege to see the progress every participant has made. Pitch day is always inspiring, and it was a thrill to see fundamental research ideas being shaped into viable business propositions to deliver tangible commercial impact.”

The prize winners will receive expert support and signposting to regional and national accelerator programmes and all the programme participants will have access to further support, mentoring and guidance from internal professional support teams, including the opportunity to build relationships with business engagement, the University of Manchester Innovation Factory and the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre.

Get involved

If you are an early career researcher looking for an exciting opportunity to develop your innovative thinking and enhance your understanding of creating and developing impact, visit:

There are Information Sessions for cohort 2 on Wednesday, 20 and Thursday, 21 March.

Applications open on Thursday, 21 March; the application deadline is Monday, 1 April; and the programme runs from Tuesday, 16 April to Thursday, 13 June.