Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning

Opportunity Recognition

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Rahul Vohra and Shamus Husheer

Serendipity or Hard Work?

Rahul Vohra, CEO & Co-Founder, Rapportive
Dr Shamus Husheer, CEO, Cambridge Temperature Concepts

Successful entrepreneurs are often dismissed as having had a bit of good luck. Entrepreneurs too, are sometimes tempted to ascribe their progress to luck or serendipity - 'Things happen!' What is the reality of entrepreneurial success or indeed failure? How much can we rely on our own endeavours? How much do we have to wait for external conditions to change and go in our favour? Is it about the luck of being in the right place at the right time? Markets, technologies, social trends, access to funding finding the first customer but perhaps not where you were looking are all cases that challenge the rational model for enterprise development.

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This session is delivered by two young, charismatic entrepreneurs, both of whom are experiencing success but in different ways. Dr Shamus Husheer completed his PhD at Cambridge, while Rahul Vohra took leave from his PhD and went to Silicon Valley with his co-founders to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. Shamus is building a business from Cambridge and Rahul has already made an exit by selling his venture to LinkedIn.

This Enterprise Tuesday lecture took place on 27 November 2012.

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Alex van Someren & Uday Phadke

Recognising Opportunites

Professor Sir Richard Friend FRS, Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge
Dr Simon Bransfield-Gart, CEO, Eight19
Dr Seena Rejal, Chairman, Cambridge Policy Associates, former Head of Business Development, Eight19

A central question in entrepreneurship is when and how do people recognise an opportunity that is worth pursuing? Should it be ideas that are evident in the market place based on alertness? Should it be about deep research that leads to ideas of how to disrupt markets? And when should we pursue them? Is it only when they offer watertight business cases or when they get us excited? In other words, what is the typical anatomy of an opportunity?

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One of the more popular definitions of entrepreneurship is by Professor Howard Stevenson at Harvard Business School: "It is that an opportunity is pursued regardless of access to resources." This may well apply to some opportunities but can it also apply to the translation of deep research into commercially viable products and services?

This question was examined at the first Enterprise Tuesday session of the 2012/2013 series through a live example, Eight19, a "hot" Cambridge company and the third start-up of Professor Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor at the University of Cambridge. Eight19 has plastic solar technology that can revolutionise lives of people who are "off-grid". The game changer is a printable plastic solar cell that is extremely affordable and scalable.

The guest speakers are members of a top team both in terms of scientific research and commercialisation. Professor Sir Richard Friend is co-presenting with Dr Simon Bransfield Garth, CEO of Eight19 who has deep experience of taking disruptive technology to market and a PhD in Engineering from St Johns College. They will be joined by Dr Seena Rejal, who has a strong track record too including time at the Clinton Climate Initiative, and was Chairman of Cambridge University Entrepreneurs when he was a PhD at Cambridge.

This lecture from the Enterprise Tuesday session on 6 November 2012 was chaired by CfEL Director Dr Shai Vyakarnam.

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David Brown

Serendipity or Hard Work?

David Brown, scientist and intrapreneur

This session is about innovation in the business world and the role played by 'intrapreneurs' in taking discoveries to market. It tracks the progress of two block buster drugs Viagra and Relpax.

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Dr David Brown is a scientist, intrapreneur and has held many senior positions in the Bio/Pharma industry. He has a truly distinguished record of not only doing the science, but also of taking key discoveries to market. Dr Brown is one of the patent holders of that 'accidental' discovery Viagra, one of the biggest brand names of recent years. He is also part of the team that actually made it a commercial success taking it through the early years of drug efficacy trials.

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Dr Shamus Husheer & Robert Brady

Recognising Opportunites

Dr Shamus Husheer, CEO of CTC
Robert Brady, active mentor and investor for technology start-ups

The strap line, "Here to make millions of women pregnant", seems to have captured the imagination of investors and customers alike for University spin-out Cambridge Temperature Concepts (CTC). On 8th November, Dr Shamus Husheer, CEO of CTC, will talk about how a young team came up with an innovation and (with sheer persistence and the ability to promote the idea) have successfully taken it to market. He and Robert Brady, active mentor and investor for technology start-ups, discuss how to galvanise belief in the merits of an idea and persuade investors it is worth the risk.

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Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL

Recognising Opportunities

Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL

Entrepreneurs who either spot or create a trend can make it possible for new businesses to be established. They are often thought to be lucky but it is more a matter of being able to know when to do something by being alert to business cycles, trends and timing.

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Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, speaking at the CfEL's Enterprise Tuesday lecture series in November 2010.

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Professor Derek Fray

Spotting the Right Idea

Professor Derek Fray, University of Cambridge

From an idea to a business vision requires a step change in thinking. How does an idea look like a business opportunity. This talk is about the journey from the lab to business. You will learn about the practicalities, issues, rewards and challenges that are encountered in the journey from the lab...

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From an idea to a business vision requires a step change in thinking. How does an idea look like a business opportunity. This talk is about the journey from the lab to business. You will learn about the practicalities, issues, rewards and challenges that are encountered in the journey from the lab to the market place. Prof Derek Fray will illustrate these issues through examples from personal experience. He has patented many technologies and has been involved in several start-ups and commercial discussions with large organisations that have licensed his technology. Prof DEREK FRAY Dept of Materials Science & Metallurgy Derek Fray is a Fellow of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy and a member of the Materials Society and the American Institute of Metallurgical engineers. He has published over 320 articles on materials processing and is cited as the inventor on over 160 published patents. Twelve projects are now under active industrial development both in the U.K. and Europe, Australia and the United States. He is a founder director of Ion Science Ltd., Ion Science Messtechnik Gmbh., Ion Science (Americas) llc., Environmental Monitoring and Control Ltd., Cambridge Advanced Materials Ltd., Metalysis Ltd., Camfridge Lt, Ion Medicare Ltd and British Titanium plc. All these companies are exploiting technology developed by Derek Fray.

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Professor Chris Lowe

Getting a Clear Vision

Professor Chris Lowe, University of Cambridge

This session is about setting out a big vision, how ideas can lead to a big vision which, when commercialised, can make a big difference to society and benefit the inventors.

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This session is about setting out a big vision, how ideas can lead to a big vision which, when commercialised, can make a big difference to society and benefit the inventors. You will begin to understand why it is essential that entrepreneurs need to have a strong and clear vision for their business that can be clearly communicated to and understood by their team, potential investors and customers. You will also start to consider some of the key issues and challenges facing an entrepreneur. Prof CHRIS LOWE Institute of Biotechnology Chris is currently a Fellow of Trinity College and a Professor and Director of the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. His research work is multidisciplinary and covers aspects of biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry, electrochemistry, physics, electronics and chemical engineering. He is also actively involved in scientific work that includes prototype product development and R&D strategy. His work has led to the launch of many innovative products in the Life Sciences industry over the last 30 years. He is actively involved in many worldwide collaborations, is on the Editorial Boards of a number of academic journals and is a member of several UK Research Council and Government Committees on Scientific Policy.

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David Cleevely and Dr Andy Richards

Recognising Opportunities

David Cleevely, Founder of Analysis and Co-Founder, Cambridge Angels, Dr Andy Richards, Biotechnology Entrepreneur and Business Angel

These two seasoned investors will talk about what they have and have not invested in and why. Hear about the successes and learn from the one or two opportunities which did not meet expectations.

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These two seasoned investors will talk about what they have and have not invested in and why. Out of the many investment possibilities how do they filter out the best and what criteria do they use? Hear about the successes and learn from the one or two opportunities which did not meet expectations. Both David and Andy are highly entertaining and animated presenters and are on national and international platforms when it comes to their contributions to policy, entrepreneurship and corporate lives.

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David Cleevely
Dr Andy Richards

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Podcasts
Lord Karan Bilimoria

Recognising opportunities

Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL
Founder of Cobra Beer

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Entrepreneurs who either spot or create a trend can make it possible for new businesses to be established. They are often thought to be lucky but it is more a matter of being able to know when to do something by being alert to business cycles, trends and timing.

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Dr Hermann Hauser, CBE

Recognising Opportunities

Dr Hermann Hauser CBE

Co-Founder, Amadeus Capital Partners

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When is an idea a business opportunity? Our hugely successful Visiting Entrepreneur is interviewed at the 2008/2009 Enterprise Tuesday series.

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