Dr Alasdair Mort, Research Fellow from the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Rural Health, which is based in Inverness, took part in the Pathfinder pilot along with his colleague Anne Roberts.
We've transformed our thinking from the academic space to the entrepreneurial space. MIME has been in the academic system for five years and at last we've taken off our wooly jumpers.
Our initiative is called MIME - Managing Information in Medical Emergencies. It’s a system designed to support the first person on the scene in a medical emergency – community first responders, a Red Cross volunteer at a festival, or GPs who don’t often deal with emergencies. It addresses things like scene safety and combines this information with recorded data from the sensors to build up a picture of what’s happening and what needs to be done.
The project had been running at the University for 5 years and we had started to realise that it might have commercial viability. We were keen to take the product to market but none of us had any kind of business knowledge.
Pathfinder helped us to change our mind-set, and break away from traditional academic research to address the practical applications of the idea from an end-user perspective. You think you’re doing clever stuff within the university, but if there’s no market then there’s no product. You could be developing something very complicated before you realise that what the customer wants is something very simple. It was an opportunity to be coached through this process for free, so that we could better understand our customers.
Yes! It made us realise that our original target market presumption was incorrect. We also learned not to demo our product to potential customers, which directed the conversation around the technology. Instead, we asked: ‘What’s important to you as a customer? What are your key pains?’ The change in focus redefined the marketing direction. Pathfinder taught us to ask the right questions.
The programme took up a lot of time – but it was definitely time well spent. Aside from the Wednesday afternoon sessions, we were expected to schedule in a lot of homework, reading books and articles, researching online and watching films to build up knowledge and help prepare for the next stage of the process.
Definitely. I think it’s particularly valuable for spin offs from research projects, although any business would benefit from taking part. It gave us time away from the academic world to get to grips with the business opportunities. Recognise that this is an amazing opportunity. You’re going to get to do this for free. And you’re going to get coached by some real experts. You’ll have fun and develop camaraderie with the other participants.