UCL Advances

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our bulletin

View our LinkedIn pageView our Facebook pageFollow us on Twitter

It's education, education, education in the latest round of Shell LiveWIRE monthly awards.

18 October 2011

Shell LiveWIRE

Two UCL student businesses have recently taken a step closer to winning the title of Young Entrepreneur of the Year and prize money of £10,000 in the 2011 Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Awards finals.

Ali Atta-Ul (PhD in Surgery) and Ricky Kotecha (Philosophy) of FRAME Medical and Owain Hughes (PhD in Immunology, Institute of Child Health) of MonMED, who each won one of the monthly £1,000 Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Awards in February, have been placed on the ‘Hot 40’ shortlist.

Over the coming weeks, the list will be narrowed down to a ‘Final 8’ who will appear before a panel of judges - among them a former winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, Tim Campbell, and the Chief Executive of the RSA, Matthew Taylor - at Shell Centre in London on 8th November. The overall winner will then be announced at the Shell LiveWIRE LIVE! event the following evening.

The awards are made monthly between January and August to the six most innovative ideas submitted by new businesses less than 12 months old. They are intended to ‘help build an even stronger community of entrepreneurs who can develop, learn, grow and support one another,’ according to Shell.

Both start-ups are social enterprises which aim to fill a gap in the public’s healthcare or health information needs and empower people to take control of their health and well-being.

FRAME Medical provides diabetes education and management programmes to people with Type-II diabetes. Its goal is to help people to manage their disease better, while also raising awareness of the condition through charitable events and other campaigns.

Ali says that the Grand Ideas Award has made a “huge impact” on FRAME Medical. “The funds have helped us to develop our services and will contribute to a potential clinical trial. The award has not only provided us with PR coverage, it also has given us confidence that we are on the right track. 

“Winning the big award on 9th November will enable us to further extend our diabetes management programme to the wider community.”

Besides the Shell LiveWIRE Award, Ali and Ricky have also been awarded a Central Innovation bursary from Camden Council and a UCL Bright Ideas Award, demonstrating their passion and commitment to improve the health and social well-being for people with chronic illnesses.

MonMED is pursuing its original remit to develop a one-stop-shop to allow patients to quickly find the hospital department that best meets their healthcare needs according to different criteria including symptoms, diagnosis or location. In the past few months the company has diversified into new areas, concentrating on its strategic partnership with Oxford Wave Research Ltd and Voxalys Ltd from Sweden; together, the three have developed OperaVOX™, an easy-to-use portable voice analysis and feedback application for patients with voice problems, professional voice users and singers.

“We are now working with UCL’s Professor Martin Birchall and his research team at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital to evaluate how patients can use OperaVOX™ to record and analyse changes to their voices following surgery on the vocal cords.

“Winning the £10,000 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award will help us bring OperaVOX™ to market and into hospitals within the next six months.”

Lillian Shapiro, UCL Advances’ Student Business Advisor, says: “Awards like these are a fantastic chance for students not only to get access to funding - one of the key hurdles any entrepreneur will come across –but also to receive external validation from organisations like Shell with a long history of helping entrepreneurs.

“It complements the efforts UCL Advances makes in developing, nurturing and supporting the generation of business ideas from our students. To see them get to a position where they are able to benefit from opportunities like this is a real bonus”.

Top of the class for Periplus in Shell LiveWIRE monthly awards

As FRAME Medical and MonMED await the judges’ decisions, another UCL-linked start-up has been acknowledged by the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Awards committee. Periplus Education is a live interactive online learning environment for secondary school children using UK-trained and based teachers and is aimed at home educators, expat families, schools and local authorities. Co-founder Ignaty Dyakov calls it “a modern classroom wherever you are in the world”.


He says: “We won £1,000 in August which is good to have on our account, but more important for us is the recognition that live, online educational support for children is something society is looking for.

“We’ve worked hard to deliver the message about what we do to the wider community, to explain how Periplus can change the learning experience for those who do not fit into the conventional school system, who are school-phobic, who are young sportsmen or performers, who are autistic, disabled or bullied.”

Periplus is mentored under the SMILE (Selected Mentors and Interims for London Enterprises) programme and UCL alumnus Ignaty (MA in Political Economy, 2009) credits UCL Advances with helping to raise awareness about Periplus through Twitter, as well as UCL Advances’ website, which has attracted more interest from both the academic and wider community.

UCL Advances has also provided the start-up with a business mentor (FRAME Medical and Mon MED also have mentors) whom Ignaty thinks will be able to bring “fresh ideas on how to build a solid organisational structure which will allow us to expand more rapidly.”

Ruth Hou, SMILE Project Manager, says: “New entrepreneurs often have terrific ideas but penning their plans and presenting them in such a way that communicates their impact clearly and succinctly is sometimes challenging.

“SMILE mentors help business owners to really think through their business ideas and to be able to pitch with greater effectiveness. Having a sounding board is a huge asset for a business owner to be able to clarify things and to see the business better.”