Nurturing and Managing Innovation in Science is designed to help emerging scientists understand the factors at play in the process of converting lab based research to commercial products and services. As part of this course, students learn to identify and analyse innovation opportunities, and to build and present a business plan based on one of the opportunities they identify. The course includes lectures on topics such as identifying and defining science based innovation opportunities, problem solving, management of innovation, understanding the competitive landscape and developing a business proposition, financing of innovation, and innovation in large and small organisations.

The course also includes a number of case study discussions on innovation in startups as well as large organisations (with a focus on nanotechnology, materials and other ‘deep technology’ based companies), and guest lectures from a number of science entrepreneurs.  Some of the technologies covered in the case studies include solar cell manufacturing, carbon nanotube composites, biosensing platform technologies, batteries, sustainable fuels from sea water and sustainable packaging materials.

Teamwork and Group Project

Team work is central to the course – students work in assigned teams for case study discussions and will build their own teams from within the cohort of attendees for the group projects. The course includes attendees from the NanoDTC as well as other CDTs and MPhil in Nanoscience Enterprise, giving students an opportunity to work in teams with a diverse set of people who they did not know previously. Students from the Graphene and Sensors CDTs have attended this module. The module is offered to attendees beyond the NanoDTC and MPhil in Nanoscience via the Impulse Programme at the Maxwell Centre.

Recent examples of group project topics (selected from a list of ideas generated by the student cohort as a whole) include:

  • Graphene enhanced F1 racing tyres
  • stretchable pressure sensors
  • passive cooling material for data centres,
  • solar fuel technologies
  • sodium ion batteries
  • gravimetric sensors

The course is led by Prof. Karishma Jain, Deputy Director of the NanoDTC. A number of guest speakers are invited to talk to students as part of the course. Recent speakers have included:

  • Prof. Russell Cowburn – Professor at the Department of Physics and co-founder of three science based startups – Durham Magneto Optics, Ingenia Ltd and Semarion Ltd
  • Prof. Henning Sirringhaus – Professor at the Department of Physics and co-founder of Plastic Logic
  • Prof. Charles Smith – Professor at the Department of Physics and co-founder of Cavendish Kinetics
  • Dr. Monica Saavedra – Co-founder of LambdaStretch Ltd
  •  Chris Rider – VP Innovation at Eight19 Ltd
  • Les Bicknell – Artist and Lateral Thinking / Problem Solving specialist