​Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University team up with SynbiCITE to deliver a ‘launch pad’ for technology start-ups

  • Posted on 15 October, 2015
Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University are joining forces with SynbiCITE, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology led by Imperial College London, to deliver a pre-accelerator programme, the Lean LaunchPad aimed at helping local researchers turn their inventions into new products and ventures.

The Lean LaunchPad is an import from Silicon Valley where it is used to ‘stress test’ the commercial feasibility of new innovations. Conceived by retired entrepreneur Steve Blank - creator of the Lean Start-up movement who was named one of the 30 most influential people in tech by Forbes magazine in 2013 - the Lean LaunchPad encourages entrepreneurs to put customers at the heart of their product development.

This is the first time that the Lean LaunchPad will run in Northern Ireland. By working in partnership with SynbiCITE, Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University hope to support and increase company creation in Northern Ireland.

Caroline McGoran, Head of Investment & Enterprise at Ulster University, said ‘The Lean LaunchPad is one of a number of initiatives that we are using to test and validate the commercial potential of our early stage projects. The programme will help us accelerate new ideas with the most commercial potential and ensure a positive impact for both universities and Northern Ireland plc.’

The programme moves the focus from the technology itself to the needs of target customers by finding out what customers want and need. On this feedback the inventors iterate their business plan and product according to real market insights, which increases the likelihood of creating sustainable businesses.

Brian McCaul, Director of Innovation at Queen’s University, said: ‘Northern Ireland’s universities are critical to the local economy and the creation of new high-growth businesses. By running a rigorous programme focused on testing customer need, and learning from the best initiatives in the UK and US, we hope to give some early new ventures the best start they can get’.

Brian added, ‘By combining the best ideas from both Universities with some of the best business brains in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, we hope to give our economy a shot in the arm. We are keen to partner with entrepreneurial leadership from outside the University to turn our world class research into world class businesses’.

The programme has attracted support from the local business community and teams will have the opportunity to learn directly from successful national and international business leaders based in Northern Ireland.