Vikas Shah joins UMI³ as Entrepreneurial Mentor

Welcoming: Prof. Vikas Shah, MBE – Entrepreneurial Mentor

“I’m that guy that set up a business at 14 and ran it from a mobile phone in my school bag.”

– Vikas Shah, “How to Save Your Own Life”, TEDx talk 2018

 UMIᶾ are excited to announce that this likeable over-achiever will join us as Entrepreneurial Mentor following (and concurrent with) a string of mind-blowingly successful ventures in a plethora of industries.

Currently CEO of Swiscot Group, (a “diversified international trading business”), Vikas is a venture-investor in fast-growing technology businesses internationally and sits as a Non-Executive Director and advisor to numerous organisations. Amongst his titles are: Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan (The Lisbon MBA), Honorary Professor of Business at The Alliance Business School, University of Manchester and an Honorary Industry Fellow at the University of Salford Business School.  He is one of the UK’s highest profile entrepreneurs & philanthropists, amongst countless other descriptions that lend themselves well to a bio.

He was awarded an MBE for Services to Business and the Economy in Her Majesty the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List. Makes sense.

You could say it all started when Vikas, not content with merely consuming the vast and varied Internet, decided to learn to code. At 14. Of course. (He refers to this in his TEDx talk “How To Save Your Own Life” in which he philosophically delves in to the psyche of his own successes, and shows himself to be human after all). From then, he built a portfolio of companies, became a philanthropist and got that MBE.

With his professional life seemingly leaving at least 45 minutes a day unaccounted for, Vikas decided he needed some hobbies and took to interviewing “the world’s leading thinkers”, and writing critically-acclaimed poetry. His published collection of verses, 3650, has been highly praised by the likes of June Sarpong and Tony Walsh, even though they don’t rhyme.

Vikas will be joining UMIᶾ to offer support as an expert in Entrepreneurship, though there’s undoubtably more that we will profit from during his time with us, in view of his extraordinary list of achievements to date.

Cath O’Neill to join UMI³ as Academic Ambassador

Welcoming: Prof. Catherine O’Neill – Academic Ambassador


“Translation of science into commercial opportunities is an important part of the university’s impact agenda. I’m delighted to have an opportunity to contribute to this”.


UMIᶾ is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Catherine O’Neill as an ‘Academic Ambassador’ for the University’s Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. The role will involve Cath supporting academic colleagues wishing to commercialise their research. Cath will help them by providing informal advice on how to define commercial value, create business plans, pitch to investors, access grants, build successful teams, negotiate commercial contracts and other activities necessary to successfully take innovations to market.

Cath has successfully collaborated with UMIᶾ for many years being the founder of several innovative businesses, notably Curapel (2011) and SkinBiotix (2016). In 2017, Cath gained a secondment from the University to lead SkinBiotix, under their new name ‘SkinBioTherapeutics’. She took the new business through a successful IPO and the company listed on the AIM market having raised £4.5M.

Manchester born and bred, Cath combines her business career with being Professor of Translational Dermatology at the University of Manchester in the Dermatological Sciences Research group. Her research is highly translational and focuses on new therapies for skin in health and disease.

Cath now divides her work-life between the company and her academic research at the university. A devoted animal-lover, in her free time she enjoys caring for her two horses and making trips to the Lake District with her dogs who love a ramble in the fells.

Cath says of her Academic Ambassador role – “I’m thrilled to be appointed as an academic ambassador for UMIP. Translation of science into commercial opportunities is an important part of the university’s impact agenda. I’m delighted to have an opportunity to contribute to this”.

The 14th “Chunhui Cup” Oversea Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition (Manchester Contest)

The Third Manchester-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition

(MCIEC 2019)

Competition Introduction

As the Sino-British relation steps into the Golden Era, the inter-exchanges and convergence of interests between UK and China have reached an unprecedented level in many fields, especially in the aspect of education. Overseas students are becoming the most important ambassadors to bridge the UK and China, promoting all-round, multi-level and wide-ranging connection, cooperation and communication between the two countries. In order to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship among Chinese overseas students in the Northern England (refer to the list of universities included in the region at the end), the 14th “Chunhui Cup” Chinese Oversea Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition (Manchester Contest), which is also the 3rd Manchester – China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition (MCIEC 2019) will continually be held in Manchester, UK, in 2019.

“Chunhui Cup” – the national Chinese Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition is the most prestigious and influential entrepreneurial competition in China, jointly organized by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The winners of the “Chunhui Cup” have the opportunity to get very close connections with international partners, often resulting in the development of a new level of international collaborations in business, technology and research.

What can you benefit from the competition?

  1. Successful projects selected by expert panels will have the opportunity to join the China Roadshow Program which will take place in Wuhan, Hangzhou, Liyang and Beijing this coming summer and be introduced to local policy makers, incubators, and investors. (Travel and accommodation will be covered)
  2. Selected projects will also have the opportunity to be recommended to multiple industrial parks and investors in both UK and China.
  3. Free trainings and follow-up advisories on business proposal development application process, presentation and roadshows will be provided to support all teams participated in the competition.
  4. Selected projects will be recommended to the “Chunhui Cup” Global Finals in Guangzhou, in December 2019. Round-trip ticket to Guangzhou is provided by the “Chunhui Cup” committee. Opportunities to meet thousands of industrial parks, incubators and investors from all over China.
  5. All teams will get the certificate issued by the MCIEC 2019 committee.

Application requirements

  1. Applicants can be a team or an individual, although teams are preferred and encouraged
  2. The team can consist of Chinese and non-Chinese members but the leading applicant should be Chinese
  3. The leading applicants can be current students, graduates or working professionals, who must have overseas experience
  4. Applicants must have innovation start-up idea or project and completed the application form.
  5. Each participant is limited to lead one project.
  6. Projects from all professional fields and industries are welcome.

Application Process

Fill in the application form (REQUIRED, and prepare the business proposal (DESIRED,, send the materials back to email by 22nd June, 2019.

Key Dates

22nd June, 2019 – Application Close

24th June, 2019 – Notice of Shortlist Proposals

5th July, 2019 – The Manchester Contest

For any inquiries, please contact, or Ms. Xue Bai via


Grafine Ltd sets up R&D facility at Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre

Grafine Ltd has established a Research and Development (R&D) facility in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC).

The business, founded by renowned experts in graphene and University of Manchester academics Dr Maria Iliut and Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, offers a range of technical development services to manufacturing companies from around the world who wish to profit from the performance benefits that graphene can add to their products.

Grafine Ltd is looking to exploit the potential of rubber and elastomer products, a global market forecasted to be more than £70 billion by 2021.

Elastomers and rubbers are used world over in products such as tyres, shoes, gloves, industrial components, construction materials, coatings and medical devices.

In addition to the development projects that it has commenced in the GEIC, Grafine Ltd is in advanced negotiations with various global manufacturers of elastomer and rubber products, as well as actively seeking investment to expand its team and facilities.

Grafine was founded with the support of Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd and UMI3 Ltd, the University’s tech transfer organisation. UMI3 recently became the latest Tier One partner of the multi-million-pound centre which is based in the Masdar Building on the University’s North Campus. Grafine will undertake its R&D activities in UMI3’s Tier One lab as well as the state-of-the-art shared facilities available within the GEIC.

Dr Maria Iliut & Andrew Wilkinson

Dr. Iliut, the academic co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Grafine, said: “Establishing a R&D facility in GEIC is a landmark moment for Grafine Ltd as we continue on our journey.

“The GEIC is a perfect R&D base for us. It combines latest knowledgebase in graphene and related materials arising from the University, with the scale-up and characterisation facilities to bridge the gap between research and production, which is the space in which Grafine operates.”

Grafine’s R&D base in the GEIC will also enable it to partner and collaborate with the wide range of other GEIC partner companies, who can take advantage of Grafine’s expertise and infrastructure in composite materials development and testing.


Andrew Wilkinson, CEO of UMI3, said: “Grafine Ltd is a very exciting University spin-out company that is now generating sales revenue and actively building its customer base. With this R&D facility, we believe that the business will have a huge impact on the use of 2-dimensional materials in the global rubber and elastomer markets.”

Grafine Ltd. exhibits at Chinaplas 2019

Grafine Ltd., supported by Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd., is exhibiting its research and development capabilities at Chinaplas 2019, the world’s leading plastics and rubber trade fair.

Chinaplas 2019, the 33rd International Exhibition on Plastics and Rubber Industries, is being held this week, from 21st to 24th of May, at the China Import & Export Fair Complex, Pazhou, Guangzhou, PR China. Grafine is exhibit in stand 9.2D55, as part of the British Pavilion.

Grafine Ltd. has been awarded a Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) Exhibitor Grant by the Department of International Trade in support of this exhibit.

Grafine, a University of Manchester spin-out company, offers a range of technical development services to manufacturing companies from around the world who wish to profit from the performance benefits that graphene can add to their products.

Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, co-founder of Grafine, and University academic, will be on hand, supported by Dr. Shanshan Huo, Senior Project Engineer at Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd.

Dr. Vijayaraghavan leads the Nanofunctional Materials Group, and is responsible for developing the graphene-enhanced rubber used by inov-8 Ltd., in their range of award-winning G-series and G-grip shoes.

Grafine is supported by UMI3 Ltd., the University’s tech transfer organisation, and Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the University.

Dr. Vijayaraghavan said: “Chinaplas is widely recognised by the industry as one of the most influential plastics and rubber exhibitions in the world. It is therefore an excellent opportunity for Grafine and the University of Manchester to expand the scope of applications of graphene-enhanced elastomer materials through seeking and establishing development partnerships with a range of international industries”

“Grafine and the University of Manchester have embarked on an ambitious journey to impact a range of sectors such as automotive, aerospace, sports & leisure, medical and infrastructure through the application of graphene-enhanced elastomer materials”.

Chinaplas 2019 will feature over 3,500 exhibitors from 40 countries, and is expected to attract over 180,000 visitors over 4 days.

Andrew Wilkinson, CEO of UMI3, said: “Grafine Ltd is at the forefront of 2D-materials enhanced elastomer development. The business is able to deliver new formulations to industry which can significantly enhance the performance of existing products and even create new applications. Grafine is currently partnering or negotiating commercial deals with customers across the globe operating in a wide range of industrial and consumer markets. I am delighted that, Manchester based, Grafine is now generating sales revenue and I am very confident that the team are going to make a major impact in the rubber and elastomer sector.”


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