"Having completed my BSc in computer science, I decided I wanted to continue to pursue the academic route with a Masters in technology and innovation management at Manchester University. After completing the Masters, I wanted to pursue topics and interests from the degree further, and began thinking about a doctorate at Edinburgh. I contacted several potential supervisors and secured a scholarship for my studies.
"My doctorate was entitled ‘Understanding requirements at work in e-science projects’. It enabled me to focus on the relationship between users and designers in software design methodologies, feeding into building better computer programs. The thesis was concerned with looking at computer science techniques to other disciplines – for example, ‘data mining’ used in the field of computer science could be equally applicable to the work of biologists.
"Because my research was based on interviews, and qualitative ethnographic research, I did nearly a year of ethnographic work. My observational skills improved vastly as a result. Writing was a really important and useful skill to develop, where every word counts and concise detail is important. This has fed through to writing bids and business proposals.
"I am still in the early days, and the business is just made up of me at the moment, but it is called Interface 3. Things really kicked off with a competition that was run at Edinburgh University in partnership with two industry partners. It was a great platform and opportunity to create my first software application and gain awareness and visibility.
"The University competition was a good example of an activity designed to encourage students to commercialise their research, but other activities have included a ‘silicon valley speaker series’ – bringing inspirational, high level US entrepreneurs to speak about their experiences.
"Several things happened which were really valuable to me in developing my business in the early days. I went on a week-long course for doctoral students entitled the ‘Enterprisers Programme’. This covered aspects such as marketing, sales skills, etc. I would recommend that future entrepreneurs look around their universities to identify commercial opportunities and funding – and there are lots of national projects too. I would definitely recommend networking as well."