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Limhi Somerville - Altilium Ltd

 

Altilium Ltd logo

L dot Somerville at warwick dot ac dot uk




My enterprise project

My enterprise skills & motivations

My project is about collaborative research on lithium-ion cells, the same as those used in cell phones, laptops and electric vehicles. At the moment, data on how these cells work is published in academic journals. This is occurring hundreds of times a month on a myriad of related topics. However it requires significant work to standardise this data and then compare it.

Early on in my Doctorate I was collating data from journals for an automotive company. Using this data, we prototyped a database and used it to compare information across journals, writing styles and authors. The money provided by UnLtd and The University of Warwick allowed me to work with professional database creators to process this data online. We also purchased server time, bought specialist software and had other students design the logo and website front end.

About 12 months later when we started to put all of the algorithms together we ran out of money. The expertise and experience to compile and adjust the sheer volume of data takes a lot of paid professional time.

To fund continuation of this work we are seeking external investment. I met a potential investor who was interested in the idea at one of my Warwick Manufacturing Group MSc business modules. We are meeting with them later in the year.

The main point I have learnt from this has been to moderate my thinking and pare down my plans. This project presented a series of problems, which was very stressful at first. I learned to stop, relax and realise that some things can’t be changed. These realisations are very different to the things I gained from academic study. I will use this skill in the future; especially in meeting potential investors, when I hope to demonstrate the experience I have to take this further.

I remain hopeful to start this business. The skills I have obtained are helpful for being realistically optimistic and differentiating between critical and ‘nice to have’.

 
 
 

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My enterprise support

My enterprise reflections & visions

Unfortunately I did not have a mentor. Most of my support came from Richard at Enterprise at Warwick.

I had conversations with external advisors via Skype, but I found their advice was odd as they weren't informed. In this instance I had asked about help with potential copyright issues associated with reproducing data from journal articles. I received a series of speculative suggestions, which I fruitlessly spent time on, as they later turned out to be incorrect. In the end I found the advice through further independent research and further mistakes. To more rapidly progress, it would be great if the University could offer uncandid support. However, I couldn’t have gotten this far without the funding received because the project required money to work.

My initial idea wasn’t as good as I thought it was. It needed changing to become viable – which I fought. But it has turned out better in many ways as a consequence.

I would absolutely encourage other students to get involved in enterprising activities. For now I continue wrapping up my doctorate and then I will seek funding. I hope in the future my project will have a positive impact by moving academics away – even if only a little – from formal journals and toward data-driven collaboration.