Dr Martine Abboud (MPLS Enterprise & Innovation Fellow 2019-20) is the founder of CREO Incubator, a learning platform that garners the power of microlearning and gamification to deliver unique experiences in skills and entrepreneurship through 15-min daily learnings and tailored live experiences. Martine has a DPhil in Chemical Biology from the University of Oxford and an MBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology. She is a passionate scientist, tech founder, and educator. Previously, Martine worked as a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She has been recognised as a CAS Future Leader, and was named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 - Europe.
Tell us a little about your path to entrepreneurship
While I was doing my DPhil, I started observing a gap between the scientific and entrepreneurial worlds. Some scientific curricula lack embedded entrepreneurial education and many scientists struggle to take their ideas and discoveries to market, test them as viable products, and commercialise them.
After my DPhil, I became a Junior Research Fellow, and it was then that I started to embrace my intrapreneurial side; applying the scientific method to new investigative areas and starting new learning journeys around the University. I started exploring programmes that focused on bridging the gap between research and industry. I joined the MPLS RisingWISE programme and the Ideas2Impact Strategy and Innovation programme at the Saïd Business School – both programmes were practical and contributed greatly to my learning journey.
Having got a taste for entrepreneurship, I applied to the MPLS Enterprise and Innovation Fellowship.
Tell us some of the things that you achieved during your time as a MPLS Enterprise Fellow
The fellowship was fruitful, both personally and professionally. As Enterprise and Innovation Fellows, we were in charge of designing entrepreneurial programmes and activities, organising a conference across the MPLS division and the university more broadly, acting as points of contact within our department, and initiating mentoring schemes that focused on building relationships with industry to create micro-industrial placements for students. We were contributing to high level discussions within the University, and we were actively engaged with students seeking advice, mentorship or coaching in certain areas.
None of this was obvious or easy at the start. I was continually pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I was also developing entrepreneurial skills and confidence, always keen to bridge that gap between being a scientist and being an entrepreneur. This eventually empowered me to launch my own entrepreneurial start-up, CREO Incubator, in August 2020.
What do you want your long-term impact to be?
I’m super passionate about the educational sector, the biggest impact I’d like to have is to contribute to changing the way education is delivered and experienced. I’d love to see school students learning practical skills such as first aid and cooking, and learning about the economic system, AI and blockchain, as this is what will equip them for the world we live in today (and the world of the future). It doesn’t make sense to me that, in 2022, students graduate from high school with little to no idea on how to code, how to run a VR experience, or how to file their taxes.
It’s not just about what they learn, but how they learn it. Curriculum-driven, single track, single speed education seems an outdated, broken concept to me. The classroom needs to be a more fun, interactive and engaging place. And entrepreneurship education should be a big part of this. If your family owns and runs a business, you already have an advantage, but for those who don’t come from such backgrounds, they have a lot more to learn and it’s inherently a harder path. I’m interested in helping to redress this balance, ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to learn and prosper.
In the coming 12 months, we’ll be focusing on growing CREO, creating more learning tracks and sector-specific programmes. We will be working on penetrating new markets and growing our portfolio of clients. We work with schools, colleges and universities around the world, and we’ll be looking to increase the number of partner institutions that are running our programmes. So our team may be growing too!