Ronjon Nag (BSc Electronic and Electrical Engineering, 1984) has grand ambitions for his support of entrepreneurs connected to the University of Birmingham.
The Californian-based alumnus sponsors the annual Ronjon Nag Commercialisation Prize, which recently saw four students deliver pitches for a £5,000 prize to develop their ideas into a genuine business.
This year’s competition was open to all students at the University, and Ronjon would like to expand it in the future so that alumni and even staff “have a forum where they can present their ideas for commercialisation.”
Says Ronjon: ‘I created the prize to set the seed for entrepreneurship within the University, and let students know that it is a career track that people can go into and really move ideas out of the lab and into society, so people could actually use them.
‘This is just a small seed to get things going. I would like to upscale the competition over time and hopefully have a situation where we might get a $100,000 investment prize for winning projects.’
Before the grand final, students received pitch training from the Careers Network and delivered their ideas to a global alumni audience and panel of alumni and University judges.
Michael Haydock (MEng Mechanical Engineering, 2020) was announced the winner for his innovative soil tunnelling device. He has already had interest from a potential funder in getting his prototype built.
Michael wrote on LinkedIn: ‘I never thought I’d win and it's clear that I have a lot of crucial decisions to make moving forwards with realising my project. I'm incredibly grateful for all the messages of support and advice.’
The other finalists included an app for eczema, a democratised investment app and a landfill mining robot.
Ronjon adds: ‘The event was a great channel to get alumni engaged with the University and students. I hope it will inspire other alumni to provide financial support for projects.’
You can find out more about the competition's finalists and winner at https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/eps/news/alumni/ronjon-nag-competition-winner-2020.aspx.
If you would like to get more involved with entrepreneurship at Birmingham, contact the alumni office.