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Postdoc Academy


Many researchers equate the words "entrepreneurial" and "entrepreneurship" with starting a business, and rule out participating in entrepreneurial education or activities because they are not interested in setting up a company.

However, an entrepreneurial mindset and enterprise skills are major assets for any future career path.

Professor Chris Young, Head of the School of Arts and Humanities, has spoken about the importance for all researchers to develop these skills.


As a postdoc, you are an innovator in training and you already share behaviours with entrepreneurs. Developing your entrepreneurial mindset and capabilities enables you to spot opportunities and have the capacity to act on these with confidence.

Whether that’s in relation to gaining independence and pursuing an academic career, a commercial opportunity, policy intervention or other means of bringing your research out into the wider world to have an impact.

Below we highlight some of the resources available to postdocs in Cambridge to help you develop your entrepreneurial thinking and skills, build your confidence to explore different avenues of impact, and connect with the wealth of entrepreneurial experience and knowledge to be found in the city:


Postdocs to Innovators Network

The Postdoc Academy is a leading partner within Postdocs to Innovators (p2i) - an international partnership between institutes of higher education and global companies.

It was created in recognition of the increasing need to enhance postdocs' entrepreneurial mindset and a key set of skills, which they can use to pursue careers that will be personally and professionally meaningful both within and outside of academia.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset and vital "know-how" to transform ideas into positive results are desirable attributes for many different career paths.

The p2i programme is open to postdocs from all of the partner organisations to engage in a range of activities matched to their interests and needs.

Participants are connected with other researchers, industrial contacts, investors, entrepreneurs, and academics with experience in starts-ups.

p2i supports entrepreneurial postdoc societies and hosts Enterprise Fairs, entrepreneurship events, and business plan competitions to help postdocs learn the basics of innovative thinking, hone their enterprise skills and build confidence networking with fellow entrepreneurs across Europe.

They also host a mentoring programme, residential courses, and online training, which you can find more information about below.

Online Training Courses

As a postdoctoral researcher, you are an innovator in training and you already share behaviours with entrepreneurs.

By recognising the mindset and learning the skills associated with entrepreneurship, you can apply these in your chosen career - whether it is in academia, as an employee outside academia, or starting your own company.

p2i offers an online course, which is free to postdocs from the University of Cambridge and partner institutes who want to learn more about how to seize opportunities and see them through.


p2i Online: Empowering Researchers to Innovate

Ideal for postdocs from any discipline who are:

  • open to learning to think entrepreneurially
  • curious about entrepreneurship
  • ready to develop entrepreneurial skills and confidence
  • keen to develop their networks.

Find out more about the course and how to apply.

Venture Creation Programmes

Venture creation events and programmes provide aspiring entrepreneurs with an exciting opportunity to develop, test and pitch business ideas.

They usually involve working in teams across a set time period (anything from an academic term, to an intense few days), and often involve mentoring and advice from experts and investors.

Here are some that are well suited to postdocs, and often come with a limited number of free places sponsored by p2i:

Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge Society

Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPOC) is a society founded by postdocs with support from the Postdoc Academy, Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Judge Business School.

They run regular events and initiatives to create awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities and foster a multidisciplinary network of entrepreneurial postdocs within the University.

Previous speakers have included: GV (formerly Google Ventures), BP, IndieBio, AstraZeneca, and local crowdfunding organisations.

Together with Cambridge Enterprise, they also hold an annual Postdoc Business Plan Competition.

Why not join EPOC by attending events or joining as a committee member. Committee members have gained networks and skills that have helped them with their next step in their career, whether this is working as an employee or starting a venture.

Cambridge's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

The University Enterprise Network is website is for researchers at the University of Cambridge who are interested in enterprise and innovation.

It provides links to the different ways you can get involved in a range of activities at Cambridge, such as learning new skills, attending networking events, getting a job or internship a start-up, starting your own business, or getting the results of your research applied in industry.

It also contains the origins and growth of the Cambridge ecosystem. Check out the “who does what” section as a good place to start exploring.


Of particular note for postdocs:

Cambridge Enterprise – in addition to their support for academics wishing to commercialise their research, they also hold events and training specifically aimed at postdocs, and, together with EPOC, an annual Postdoc Business Plan Competition.

Cambridge Judge Business School – in addition to their Enterprise Tuesdays talks which are popular with postdocs, there are sponsored places available on their entrepreneurial programmes (various funders, including the p2i network, sponsor postdocs).