Our annual Postdoc Business Plan Competition concluded with style on Thursday 2 November: six terrific pitches from the finalists, celebratory drinks and a dramatic setting in The Theatre at Peterhouse.

With more than double the number of entries over last year, the competition was stiff. The quality of the entries was high and, having heard the final pitches, the judges had some tricky decisions to make.

Hanbin Ma was awarded first prize of £20,000 investment for his active pixel liquid-handling technology that provides a modern alternative to the outdated pipette used in labs worldwide.

Akshay Rao won the second prize of £10,000 investment with his platform technology Slate2Learn that allows children in developing countries access to personal tuition.

Davor Copic secured the third prize of £5,000 investment with his company Microfoam Technologies that uses nanotechnology to improve the cooling efficiency of electronic devices.

An audience of investors, mentors, postdocs and tech transfer professionals gathered to drink bubbly and listen to polished pitches from the talented finalists, all of whom had some fantastic research and business ideas to share. Their pitches were followed by questions from the judging panel, consisting of Anne Dobree, Head of Seed Funds at Cambridge Enterprise; Andrew Williamson, Investment Director at Cambridge Innovation Capital; Barbara Domayne-Hayman from Cambridge Enterprise’s Investment Committee and Tom Simmons, President of the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge.

Thanks to Cambridge Enterprise and EPOC, my journey of the competition was a great experience that allowed me a taste of the real business world.

Hanbin Ma, winner 2017

The event was hosted by Tania Balsa, Investment Manager at Cambridge Enterprise, and the prizes were presented to the winners by Giorgia Longobardi, who won first prize in the competition last year.

Hanbin Ma, this year’s winner of the first prize of £20,000 investment, said: “Thanks to Cambridge Enterprise and EPOC, my journey of the competition was a great experience that allowed me a taste of the real business world. The mentoring and the pitch training helped me to shape my idea into a realistic business plan. The judges and the audiences’ comments have strongly encouraged me to go further, and I am starting to enjoy the role as an entrepreneur. Just like the slogan of the competition ‘get something started’, now I am going to keep to ball rolling. The prize will allow me to expand my team, and give me the freedom to travel to meet potential partners and investors.”

Akshay Rao, this year’s winner of £10,000 investment, said: “Slate2Learn is thrilled to be one of the winners of the Cambridge Enterprise Postdoc Business Plan Competition. This gives us a tremendous boost and will help take Slate2learn to the next level.”

The competition is run by Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge, and was this year sponsored by Marks and Clerk, Parkwalk Advisors, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Barclays Eagle Labs. We’d like to thank all of those that took part in the competition this year and made it such a success, including the sponsors, mentors, entrants, judges and attendees of the grand finale.

The competition will open again for entries in May 2018.