Spin Up Science was founded in 2018 to support the development of scientists and engineers into future leaders and innovators, to strengthen the pipeline of technical expertise emerging from universities, and to increase research commercialisation activity. Through our initiatives designed to engage early career researchers with the local high-tech startup community, we aim to raise the visibility of entrepreneurship as a career pathway beyond a Ph.D.
We founded Spin Up Science after finding that most Ph.D. and postdoctoral researchers had never heard of or engaged with local incubator spaces or the local high-tech start-up community. This concerned us because, within one year of graduating, more than half of all Ph.D. researchers leave academia and science behind, revealing a lack of available job opportunities to apply their specialist knowledge. In the UK, we also struggle to effectively translate the research undertaken in universities into the wider world; which could present a source of job creation. We believe that scientists and engineers can make incredibly effective business leaders. Furthermore, by connecting them to innovation communities and arming them with entrepreneurial mindsets, these researchers can be an essential component in driving increased research translation and job creation.
Since 2017, with the construction and opening of incubator spaces across the city, science and technology-driven companies have begun to thrive with the increased availability of wet lab and engineering facilities. However, innovation clusters need more than just physical infrastructure to reach their full potential, they rely on the shared experience and connections between their members. For these communities to flourish and grow, it requires some social infrastructure to support existing activity while also ensuring a strong talent pipeline to drive further innovation.
Our flagship initiative, the Science Entrepreneur Experience, embeds teams of Ph.D. and postdoctoral researchers within incubators for week-long immersive experiences working alongside early-stage science and technology start-ups. Over five days, the team positions themselves halfway between consultants and entrepreneurs, to build a client’s start-up business. Starting from the underlying science, the cohort explores how to translate it into the marketplace. Authentically simulating the experience of opportunity spotting, customer validation, and spinning-out a company affords the opportunity to practice the research commercialisation journey and provides a framework to assess their own start-up ideas.
The outputs of these experiences yield market research reports, customer discovery, brand creation, and financial projections. All outputs are handed over to the client’s company at no cost; turning a training experience into a tangible benefit for local start-ups. In doing so, training funds contribute directly to start-up success stories and connect researchers with start-ups, who often seek to re-employ the assistance of programme graduates as interns, consultants or employees.
Our mission is to strengthen connections between local incubation facilities and the communities of innovators and researchers in the city. To date, we’ve engaged more than 250 researchers with local incubators from across the UK and Europe. The alumni of the experience have gone on to found companies based on their own research, join start-ups in the local community, and embrace positions of leadership in the industry.
Looking forward, we hope to support the growth of the ecosystem as it goes from strength to strength and to see the development of Bristol and the South West as a prime location for innovative companies to be based.
Spin Up Science