PhD Student Workshop: Business Awareness for Scientists

Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 by Ashley Wong

For the fourth consecutive year, we continue our industrial-academic collaboration with the EPSRC 'New & Sustainable Photovoltaics' Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT-PV). We hosted the newest cohort of PhD students in the Ossila headquarters (the very first time!) for a one-day interactive workshop on business training for scientists.

The students arrived at our offices in the morning for a short tea and coffee reception before the day's activities began. Dr. James Kingsley (our Managing Director) then kicked off the workshop with a brief introduction of Ossila's ethos, mission, and product range.

Following that, Dr. Kingsley led a Q&A session in which he shared practical business advice from his decade of experience as a scientist running a fast-paced SME. This covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • the importance of ensuring that product R&D is customer-oriented
  • the complexities and pros/cons of navigating intellectual property and patents
  • the benefits of having simplified direct relationships with customers and suppliers

PhD students from the EPSRC CDT-PV visiting Ossila for a business training workshop
EPSRC CDT-PV students speaking to members of Ossila staff.

To give the students a first-hand look into the everyday workings of Ossila, they were taken on an office tour. During this, members of staff explained what their responsibilities involved, and how the different roles of each department contribute toward running a profitable business.

In the second half of the workshop, the students were given the opportunity to put the knowledge they'd gained from that morning into practice. They participated in a group brainstorming activity for a mock product pitch. Their ideas were then shared in two-way feedback sessions with members of Ossila's R&D team, and the workshop then concluded in the late afternoon.

Ms. Elena Cassella, PhD student and workshop participant shared some words on her experience:

"Ossila’s business training workshop provided us with great insight into the commercial side of science through the eyes of a high-tech SME. It was good to build on a previous business-theory course and learn about the practical aspects of running an SME in the science  and technology industry. 

For me, it was eye-opening to learn how much goes into developing an idea - from a back-of-the-envelope sketch, through a prototype design. and into a finished product on the market. The mock product pitch really reinforced these ideas by challenging us to consider target markets, cost-awareness, and the practicalities of product design . It was great to see that an idea resulting from a quick brainstorm from a bunch of PhD students actually held market potential!

A big thank you to all of the team at Ossila for a great day!"

The team at Ossila understand the importance of bridging the gap between scientific academia and industry, so we wholeheartedly enjoy conducting workshops like this. If you are interested in similar collaborations with us, please contact us!

Author: Ashley Wong

Hailing from a Psychology background, Ashley has an MSc in Organizational/Work Psychology from the Sheffield University Management School. Prior to joining Ossila, Ashley worked with two multi-national organizations, researching emotional labour in the life insurance industry. In 2017, she successfully led the process of writing & applying for a prestigious Institute of Physics Business Innovation Award, which resulted in Ossila winning its first-ever industrial award.