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@SVc2UK “Don’t look for snacks, look for meals”


Some of you will remember my blog from last year’s Silicon Valley comes to the UK event (http://cofinitive.com/blog/goodbye-2014-hello-2034) so yesterday evening I headed down to the wonderful Cambridge Union Debating Chamber with high expectations of inspiration from our peers across the pond.

Apart from one of the speakers explaining that it’s a shame Cambridge isn’t as good as it used to be for tech (cue audience gasp – maybe a pre-read of http://cofinitive.com/blog/cambridge_hq before speaking in Cambridge would have been a good idea), it was an extremely fast paced tour of HealthTech, EdTech and how to scale your business and here are my highlights: –


Daniel Kraft and Catherine Mohr talked (at break-neck speed) of the future of healthcare, and biomedicine. The ‘bucket and body parts’ approach to healthcare is changing as we move from intermittent and reactive to continuous and proactive treatment. The digitisation of Healthcare (AI, IoT, nanotech) is taking shape and doctors (and patients) are now starting to realise a ‘Digital Doctors Bag’ for everything from ultrasounds, ECG’s and eye tests. Apps are prescribing diseases, 3D printing is allowing doctors to literally see and feel the problem…and make the solution. Leveraging the global appetite for data, Daniel coined the phrase ‘Predictalytics’ and suggested areas where an ‘onstar’ for the body will provide this information – personal healthcare, fitness coach, future projections, markers on mobile phones for mental as well as physical symptoms etc.

The big questions were around privacy of data, who would be ‘uber’ of healthcare, and both speakers noted the massive impact of Doc Watson which I’m sure IBM will be very pleased about!


John Katzman shared how much more difficult education was to change then healthcare “tech is not the driver behind change in education – cost is the driver, tech is the solution”. Very clearly one size doesn’t fit all and someone has yet to make those responsible for a top down process recognise this. John discussed a range of approaches – flexible physical space, online learning, JIT, immersion (here comes Oculus!).

Two pieces of good advice – to make EdTech work, metrics are a prerequisite; and if you’re in the EdTech game, be patient!


Corinne Goddijn-Vigreux began with the exponential growth of TomTom over its 25-year history. She shared 3 key takeaways – think system and processes but also build a brand; make a good product – don’t start out looking for the exit; and innovation is about taking risks so don’t be too cautious. And did you know TomTom tech originally came from Psion UK (for those of us old enough to remember!)?

Rahual Vohra, ex Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, having worn the badge with rapportive, outlined his criteria for angel investing and a sound model for anyone in business (irrespective if you’re going to be the next billion-dollar company or not!). Here were his 5 questions

  • Is your product 10x better?
  • Is your product rapidly useful, entertaining or gratifying?
  • Is your product viral?
  • Does your product have network effects?
  • Does your product capture massive amounts of data?

If you can answer yes to all of them, you potentially have something disruptive. And if you are going for funding, the first cheque is the hardest so just get it and the rest will follow!

Hillary Mickell closed the talks with a great story from one of her mentors/ investors about the lion, antelope and field mice. The lion is powerful and agile hunter who of course can hunt field mice but would need a lot to sate its hunger and hunt effectively. So the key to business is working out who are your antelopes – what will give you the advantage to move forward? Say no to the field mice – don’t look for snacks, look for meals!

The session ended pretty much how last year’s session ended – about people. How successful teams are built on people that you trust, that fit the culture of your company, and that offer complimentary skills.

So yes I was inspired, but maybe next year we should also consider a reverse trip where Cambridge goes to Silicon Valley (@Cc2SV !) as let’s face it, when it comes to Technology, Innovation in Healthcare, Education, and Entrepreneurship, I think we have earned our stripes!

And before I sign off, the last word goes to Oli Barrett who injected real energy as emcee – there’s someone I’d love to spend some time with.