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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Postdoc Business Plan Competition trophy and Accelerated Materials logo

Accelerated Materials, which helps businesses create innovative products with nanomaterials, won the £20,000 top prize in this year’s iteration of the Cambridge Enterprise competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition has become a highly respected part of the Cambridge entrepreneurial calendar. Since its inception, the competitions’ Finalists and Semi-finalists have gone on to raise more that £26.3 million for their companies.

Jose, a postdoctoral researcher in our Sustainable Reaction Engineering group, founded Accelerated Materials with supervisor Professor Alexei Lapkin (Chief Strategy Officer for the company) and Senior Research Fellow Mikhail Kovalev (Director of Product Development), with the vision of bringing sustainable, next generation nanotechnologies to reality.

“We work with companies, from idea to product launch, helping them to both create new materials and produce them at scale,” says Jose, Chief Executive Officer for Accelerated Materials and project lead in the competition.

After completing his PhD at CEB, with a two-year placement at Cambridge CARES in Singapore, Jose received a grant to develop proof-of-concept for the technology at the core of Accelerated Materials, and this led the researchers to spin out their venture in 2020.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic made it more challenging for new companies to access the networks and mentorship needed to grow, so Jose saw this competition as a welcome space to start conversations.

“I was just looking for any opportunity I could to talk with people,” says Jose. “From the start I wasn't too focused on winning, it was much more about making connections and getting feedback on our business model.

“I was surprised to win it; there were a lot of nice projects entered. But it was an amazing opportunity to develop and showcase our business. It was more than just a pitching competition; after each round of mentoring, I was able to refine my ideas and presentation into a form that I can now confidently present to investors and clients. My mentors Nick Housby and Shai Vyakarnam were outstanding, providing valuable criticism from their own experiences in technology entrepreneurship.”

Along with invaluable feedback and guidance on their business model, the cash prize will help the Accelerated Materials team, which now includes Marketing Director, Zara Cheema, bring their much-needed technology to a wider client-base.

“There really is a gap in the market for large scale production of nanomaterials,” says Jose. “Many people have tried to make new nanomaterials in the past and put them into products, but a huge issue has been scale-up, so this is really a way to help resolve that problem.

“The immediate applications we’re targeting are in antimicrobials, but there are also applications for battery technology and in wider healthcare. We keep our approach broad to support companies in generating whatever nanomaterial or application they want to explore.”

Find out more about Accelerated Materials and the Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition.

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