As the UK economy marches towards a recovery, the British government is trying to lure foreign entrepreneurial talent to the country's shores through the Sirius Programme, a support package offered by the UK Trade & Investment department.
Under Sirius, foreign graduates and students with innovative start-up ideas are offered help relocating to the UK, mentoring by business experts, and support in financing their ideas.
In part two of a five-part series, which will profile some of the talent coming through Sirius, IBTimes UK hears from Allie Speidel of the USA.
What is your business idea?
I would like to start a medical device company for students with disabilities. We want to create devices that can be used by both teachers and students with disabilities to enable them to interact with teaching materials in a more effective manner and remove some of the challenges the students might face with unaltered materials.
Why do you want to pursue it?
According to United Nations Enable, 10% of the world's population live with a disability and comprise the world's largest minority. The poverty rate and illiteracy levels are almost twice as high in people with disabilities. At the moment, there aren't any cheap, readily commercially available educational materials that are easy for teachers to use and for students with disabilities to learn with effectively. Our organisation would address this and provide products that could fill this gap in the market.
What is your background?
I graduated from Duke University in America with a BSE in Biomedical engineering and I am currently pursuing a PhD in the Departments of Medicine and Materials at Imperial College London. During my senior year at Duke, I enrolled in a senior capstone design course called 'Devices for People with Disabilities' where my design team developed a Vertical Display Stand to enable students at a local elementary school with cerebral palsy to more easily access and interact with their educational materials. This project is the source of inspiration for my current business venture.
What is it about Britain that makes you want to set up here?
Britain is renowned for its historically premier system for higher education and its National Health Service. Together, these cultivate the perfect environment for the development of innovative educational devices for students with disabilities. Culturally, the UK is an extraordinarily diverse country with residents hailing from all corners of the world and is geographically located at a major global crossroads, making it a hub of innovation and new ideas.
What do you think of the Sirius Programme?
I think the Sirius Programme is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs to obtain the support they might need and not otherwise have access to in order to set up exciting new businesses in the UK. It is also a wonderful way for the UK to attract and retain international talent with exciting business ideas that have the potential to revolutionise Britain and the world.
Find out more about the Sirius Programme at its website.