CAPOD – Supporting Professional Skills Development for Entrepreneurial Researchers

CAPOD – Supporting Professional Skills Development for Entrepreneurial Researchers

Back in November 2015, CAPOD provided 2 workshops for Researchers as part of the Passport to Research Futures programme.  These events were delivered by experts in the field, Dr Ewan Chirnside from the Knowledge Transfer Centre at University of St Andrews and Brian Butchart a CEO at Aberdeen based pharma company SIRAKOSS.

Understanding what it is like to start your own business and getting investment and budgeting right is key to survival in your first few months of starting a business.

DavidOne guy who has taken his first step into the start-up world is David Harris-Birtill.  David (pictured) has attended a number of workshops that CAPOD has provided since he came to St Andrews.  When I met with David in early March this year, I asked him what he thought about CAPOD.  His response was “I love CAPOD and the courses – I’ve been on loads of them”.  We talked about his business, his product and how he is commercialising it and how the CAPOD courses have helped him along the way.  He explained how useful the Business Budgeting and Let’s Make a Business events have been and about useful golden nuggets of information these events have provided. He was particularly grateful for the information on how important cash flow is when budgeting.   He also highlighted how he appreciated the fact that Brian Butchart, who ran the Business Budgeting event, is a CEO of a start-up company in Aberdeen and how the first-hand experience Brian offered was great…this highlighted to David what ‘it is like to run out of cash!’

David registered his company ‘Beyond Medics Limited’ in September 2015. David’s company creates imaging and sensing platforms for patient benefit.  This is how David describes the product:

“A person’s heart rate and blood oxygenation levels are vital signs which provide clinicians an indication of how well a person is. Conventionally measured using a pulse oximeter, a finger probe, this requires contact with the skin and a clinician to place the device on the person. Beyond Medics has created a camera-based system to automatically remotely measure these vital signs from a distance and can do so for up to six people at once, no longer needing these clips, enabling better triage of patients in A&E and a more seamless workflow through a hospital, care home or security setting.”

CAPOD offers a number of events to support the professional development of researchers to be ‘entrepreneurs’.  Ewan Chirnside from Knowledge Transfer offers the ‘Let’s Make a Business’ event on the Passport to Research Futures programme to those who want to explore the development of an idea and using the Blank Canvas technique to develop the ideas into business propositions.  Working with Dawn Shand, Senior Business & Innovation Advisor from Scottish Institute for Enterprise, the 3 hour session enabled attendees to explore their business ideas and create an action plan for further exploration.

Brian Butchart, CEO from Aberdeen based company Sirakoss, offered his time and hands-on expertise to deliver a 2 hour session on business budgeting, exploring the quite complex way of managing cash flow when you are trying to create a product, getting the product to market and attracting investors along the way. Brian led the spin-out process of SIRAKOSS, with his fellow founding Directors.  Brian brings extensive UK and international expertise in medical devices to the session.  He was 22 years with Johnson & Johnson, where he proved his well-developed Sales, Marketing, Operations and Business Unit Management skills. In 2002 he joined Isotron (Synergy Health) as UK General Manager responsible for seven operating sites and 200+ employees in Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance and Quality, before serving as Global Sales & Marketing Director (2007-2009).

Things are moving ahead at a rapid pace for David in the ‘entrepreneurial world’.  David has been supported along the way by Ewan Chirnside helping him with Intellectual Property Rights and has signposted David to funding opportunities such as ‘Pitch at the Palace’ and ‘2 minute pitch’.

In Jan 16, the Universities Scotland’s Research Training Sub-Committee (Including Heads of Researcher Development and Heads of Graduate Schools) and supported by the Innovation Scotland Forum organised a 1 day event ‘Creating an entrepreneurial research culture in Scottish HEIs’.  The objective was to discuss and identify actions at an institutional and national level to create an entrepreneurial culture for all researchers (PhD students to Professors) in Scottish HEIs.

Our professional development events continue to create this culture here at St Andrews.  If you are a researcher and want specialist support with developing your business then please contact the Knowledge Transfer Centre.  If you wish to develop your professional skills and knowledge then CAPOD offers a wide range of courses and events.  Events such as ‘Working with the Media’, ‘Leadership Development’, ‘Business Budgeting’, ‘Let’s Make a Business’, ‘Effective Communication’, ‘Microsoft Office’ etc, all provide the foundation for the professional entrepreneur.  We also provide coaching and mentoring.  For an informal chat about any of the training we offer for Research Staff, please contact Michelle Paterson, Staff Developer.

Finally, here’s what people think about the Let’s Make a Business and Business Budgeting events….

  • “Excellent intro to starting a business”
  • “It is helpful and interesting.  Easy to understand”
  • “This is absolutely necessary if you want to try your own business”
  • “Fantastic knowledgable speaker”
  • “The breadth of material covered was significant, but absolutely relevant.  I wouldn’t have thought of half of it otherwise!”
  • “Fantastic event.  Excellent breakdown of what needs to be budgeted for.  Also excellent for business planning and creativity.”
  • “Good overview of Basic Structure of business planning.  Very useful as foundation to build my own business.  Presenter very approachable”
  • “If you are at all interested in entrepreneurship then do attend”



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