Sussex Innovation Centre-based One Research was founded in 2010 in response to the problem of recruiting and retaining volunteer patients in sufficient numbers for clinical-research studies. Co-founder and first-time entrepreneur, Alistair Crombie, highlights some of the benefits of being based at the Centre.
Many people have business ideas, but it is a big step to go from notes on a napkin to a fully fledged operation. As I see it, the role of science parks and innovation centres, like the Sussex Innovation Centre, is to provide first-time entrepreneurs like myself with the resources, skills and, most importantly, the confidence to take that step.
My first experience of the Centre came in the form of an interview with its Executive Director, Mike Herd. Mike’s speciality is strategic insight, particularly spotting the opportunities to refine a business model – getting his feedback at such an early stage was a valuable proving ground before taking on the risk of starting a business. The main things that the Centre looks for in potential members are an innovative idea, and the ambition on the part of the entrepreneur to make it happen.
I explained to Mike that I wanted to help solve the issue of recruiting patients for clinical research, and ensuring that these patients stayed in trials, something which costs the healthcare industry billions of dollars in delays and wasted labour each year. Mike listened to everything I had to say about my idea, and finally asked me, “Do you want to run a business?” His point was that enthusiasm for an idea is a different proposition to the day-to-day efforts involved in running a company. This is typical of the Centre’s approach; it is an environment that encourages entrepreneurs to innovate and solve high-level problems, while remembering the practical requirements that go into building a sustainable enterprise.