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NMIS - Nurturing and Managing Innovation in Science

Impulse, in collaboration with NanoDTC, offers a pilot introductory course designed for the CDT students. NMIS has been running since 2016 and is currently taken by students of the Nano, Sensors and Graphene CDTs as well as the MPhil in Micro and Nano Enterprise. The course is designed to help emerging scientists understand the factors at play in the process of converting lab based research to commercial products and services. Students will learn to identify and analyse innovation opportunities, and build and present a business plan to a panel of industry experts by the end of the course. The course will include lectures on key topics including 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 will also include 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. Team work will be central to the course – students will work in assigned teams for case study discussions and will build their own teams from within the cohort of attendees for the group projects.

Assessment for the course will include assignments based on identification and analysis of innovation opportunities, development and presentation of a business plan based on one of the identified innovation opportunities and an individual reflective note written at the end of the course. The elements of the course are as follows:


Core Sessions

12 sessions of 75 mins each (Michaelmas Week 2 – Michaelmas Week 7)

Timetable: 4:30 – 5:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays

Guest lectures

Approximately 4 sessions of 1 hr each (mostly during Michaelmas)

Timetable: 4:30 onwards on Wednesdays

  • Dr Mark Goulding – Director, Business Project Lead at Merck Chemicals Ltd
  • 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
  • Philip Hunt - CEO of Orenko Ltd

Further examples of recent guest lecturers:

  • 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
  • Dr Chris Rider – VP Innovation at Eight19 Ltd
  • Les Bicknell – Artist and Lateral Thinking / Problem Solving specialist

Industry visits

Approximately 1-2 visits to relevant companies / startups in the Cambridge area. Recent companies visited include: Fluidic Analytics, Eight19, Aixtron, CDT Ltd

Group Projects

Students will work in groups of 5-6 to develop and present a business plan based on one of the science based innovation opportunities they have identified, including validating the proposed technology and market as far as possible. Students will be assigned a group project mentor with relevant background / experience after the first presentation they make on their chosen innovation opportunity (at the end of Michaelmas term). Mentors will typically spend 2-3 hours talking to their groups in person, by email and skype, advising them on different aspects of their projects and pushing them in new directions. The final presentations will take place at the end of Lent term


Individual assessment:

  1. Written assignment on two innovation opportunities identified by students (25%)
  2. Reflective Notes on case study discussions and overall learning (10%)

Group assessment: Group Project Presentation and Q&A (65%)

To discuss participation in the NMIS Course or if you have enquiries please email