Dr Monica Armengol is a Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Engineering Science working on the development of medical devices for paediatric applications. Monica is a former Biodesign Fellow, with an interest in translating her research to real-life applications. She has won several entrepreneurship competitions, and participated in start-up accelerators and incubators across Europe. We recently caught up with her to find out more about her background and her ambitions for the year ahead.
Monica, tell us a little about where you come from, and what motivates you?
By training, I'm an electronic engineer. After my BA, I felt like I needed to get more of a business background, So I did an MBA. I then did my DPhil in Engineering at Oxford, and now I'm doing a postdoc. I work in translating technology for medical use. For the last two years I've been focused on urinary problems, mainly for paediatrics.
From my DPhil, I learned that I really like to work on projects that translate to real-world uses, and that are clinically relevant. I am passionate about creating something that will be useful for patients, and that will make a difference for people. During my time as a Biodesign Fellow, I was able to focus full-time on innovating around an identified clinical need. I have also built links and experience working in the European entrepreneurial ecosystem, through accelerators and incubators. I've participated in several competitions and programs for innovation and entrepreneurship.
What are some of the issues you’d like to tackle as an MPLS Enterprise Fellow?
Well, being part of accelerators and programs and working on trying to spin out my own research has highlighted some challenges that need addressing. It feels to me like there's still a big gap for researchers between coming up with a commercial idea and then making it happen - especially in terms of funding. How do you create a proof of concept or a MVP? What steps can you take towards achieving this?
While most universities have business incubation programmes, which help researchers like me to build business knowledge and understand markets, access to funding is definitely still a challenge. And many of us working at the intersection of research and business are going to be working to longer timelines, so it could take a few years to get to a stage where you’re able to pay yourself and make a living from your spinout.
Tell us some of the things that you hope the Fellowship will help you to do or achieve, for yourself or for others.
Yes, I would like to collaborate with people that are already involved in innovation, and I’m especially interested in outreach projects that target young people in STEM at a pre-university stage. It’s so important that a young and diverse group of people are introduced to innovation concepts at an early stage, so they can develop an entrepreneurial mindset, as this will ultimately advance us all, from both a societal and economic perspective.