Are you ready for the next challenge? PhDs and post-docs wanted…..

Here at Science Innovation Union (, we’re committed to inspire entrepreneurship among young scientists from any background, and to boost innovation by bridging the gap between industry, government and academia with the aim of translating innovative science into disruptive business. We are a young and exciting organization, and we have big plans for this year.

In our first year, we managed to run 19 separate stimulating events, with more than 2500 registered attendees, 16 000+ interactions and various consulting projects in. Furthermore, we attracted more than 120 full-time scientists to our training and educational program, OB360.

SIU is expanding as never before, and has major plans for 2016-2017. We will introduce new ventures and we are forming regional Divisions in Cambridge and London. We work towards building a world-leading brand and we’re inviting you to build it with us.

Find out more about these voluntary positions on their website:

Case Studies: Data Science careers

Dr Kim Nilsson, Pivigo:

Kim is an Astrophysics PhD turned Entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Pivigo, an organisation focused on supporting analytical MScs and PhDs in their career transitions into data science roles. She is passionate about people, data and connecting the two.

Kim realised that, despite being a Hubble astronomer, academia was not for her.  She undertook an MBA and worked briefly in financial services before setting up her own company.  Pivigo helps researchers gain commercial experience that will help them into a data science career.

On the day she spoke, there were 4003 jobs on LinkedIn with the title ‘data scientist’.  A starting salary will be £35-£50k.  The different sectors include commerce, operations, consumer marketing, local government and charities.

Key skills include Python, R and Java.  You need to have curiosity and scepticism, and ability to communicate and some business awareness.  Your CV needs to show HOW you apply your data skills to problems.

Check out MOOCs on Coursera, competitions on Kaggle or create your own data challenge!

Dr Ana Costa e Silva, TIBCO:

Ana has 15 years experience with data, undergraduate studies in Business and a PhD in computer science (AI) from the Edinburgh University. She has previously been a manager economic statistician for the Statistics department of the Portuguese Central Bank and a researcher of the inner workings of the global stock market for Edinburgh Partners.

Ana’s company helps businesses understand their data and start to respect their customers.  Her data analysis helps to optimise pricing, check for fraud, re-route transport (eg container ships avoiding storms and finding available docking).  She helps the engineers in the company make their products look better (eg in oil and gas, optimising engineering tools, and in healthcare, getting sensors to call nurses when there are changes in patient data).  One client was a casino company, MGM Resorts, and they looked at historic data to see which punters had not yet lost too much money: these people were texted with offers at other entertainment places and then encouraged back, as data demonstrated that people who had not lost too much were more likely to come back and spend more money.

Dr Zach Izham, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Zach has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and after several roles in aero-engineering, is now responsible for designing, implementing and testing solutions for data analytics and machine learning for clients in insurance/ banking/automotive industries and also governmental agencies from a ‘data science’ perspective.

He talked about why he left academia, citing the main reason as being that it would not be possible to earn enough money.  He works for HPE where he helps businesses leverage their data to run a more efficient business.  Issues he encounters are where servers don’t talk to each other and he has to find solutions to problems.  He encourage attendees to be picky about the business they choose to work in and consider starting their own business.

He says that AI becomes Machine Learning when it is mainstream, such as the self-driving car.

Interesting courses include Andrew Lung’s Coursera course and you should check out SiliconMilkRoundabout (jobs fair for tech people).

Career Spotlight: Patent Attorney

We’ve written up spotlights about being a Patent Attorney before – use the search function in the blog to find info from the past two years.  This year’s spotlight had four attorneys who spanned a range of experiences.  Here, briefly, are some notes of information that particularly stood out (see particularly the good and bad reasons for wanting to be an attorney, right at the end of the post!).

Nick Noble from Kilburn Strode:

KCL PhD and post-doc at Imperial, Nick took out a patent when he was doing his PhD.  He says that the kinds of people likely to be interested in being an attorney are those with

  • an interest in law
  • people who are ‘picky and pedantic’ ‘odd alls’
  • people who get a buzz out of an argument

Nick particularly talked about the different flavours to firms – some are interested in extremely high quality work; some more interested in revenue.  Some are friendly and sociable, others more interested in the money.

He revealed salary information: a trainee would start at £25-30k; after about five years, you are on £50-60K; 5 years post-qualification you would be on £85k and after about 12 years, £100k.  Those at the top of the profession might be earning £700 000.

Eleanor MacIver, Mewburn Ellis:

Eleanor is a trainee attorney, with a PhD and two post-docs in chemistry.  She moved into attorney work because she didn’t want to do benchwork any more.

She described a patent as a bargain between the inventor and the public: you get a 20 year monopoly on the enforcement and exploitation rights to your invention in return for disclosing it to help the public learn.

She expects to qualify within four years; future career moves include moving in-house to a pharma company (as well as moving up within your firm).

Eleanor gave this advice about applications:

  • You need to want to learn more about science and technology
  • Your writing needs to be clear and concise
  • You should apply everywhere!
  • You will fail your written exams – this might be the first time you’ve ever failed at anything.

Jodie Albutt, Dehns:

Jodie’s PhD came from St Thomas’s and she says that she moved into patent work because she wanted a stable job not based on short-term contracts or publication record.  She applied to 60 firms, had 6 interviews and 2 offers.  She has been at Dehns for 14 years.

Jodie’s advice included:

  • send speculative applications (ie apply to firms even if they’re not advertising for trainees)
  • you can sometimes find in-house trainee roles
  • in her experience biotech divisions need people with PhDs but a post-doc isn’t necessary
  • check out the training offered by the firms – some firms require you to take the foundation course on your own but elsewhere they sponsor you through it one day per week or for three months (the course is at QMUL).
  • check the size of the firms – numbers of staff and trainees (Dehns is one of the largest with 70 professional staff and lots of trainees)
  • EPO (European Patent Office) has a website where you can check a register of attorneys and see the clients they work for (which would be useful to know to help inform your application letter and to help you understand what kind of firm it is)
  • check the Legal 500 to see what ‘tier’ the firm is – working for a top tier firm as a trainee might look good for your future
  • check benefits – pay, benefits (inc holiday or flexible hours), bonus (based on profits or targets)

Re interviews:

You might be asked to describe a pencil or a problem, but you wouldn’t be expected to have knowledge of patent law.  You have to be able to understand what is commercially important for your client.

‘There aren’t that many unhappy patent lawyers’!!

Some of the tricky parts of the job:

  • you have to be able to accept someone destroying your work and getting you to do it again.
  • you need to be very organised: she has 250 active cases (though some she might look at only once per year)
  • there are a lot of emails – it’s a very office-based role though you may go to Munich to defend your patent at the EPO

John Fisher, Carpmaels and Ransford

‘It’s an excellent career!’

He has been a attorney since 2006 (he has an MSci from KCL and DPhil from Oxford).  There are about 50/50 PhDs/non-PhD attorneys at his firm.

He does a lot of patent defence work, where he enjoys the argument and scrapping face to face with an opposing attorney.  He says that he is acting as an advocate for his clients, always looking for angles and answers to problems.

As you develop through the career, your role moves more into business development and client management – he has had trips to see clients in the US for example.

Private practice vs in-house: private practice will be larger with more trainees, a wider breadth of experience; in-house will be very focussed, smaller and largely not in London.

Reasons he likes the role:

  • Partners can make up to £1m
  • You can work part-time
  • You can get to choose your specialism
  • You can become a freelance
  • It is pretty easy to move around once you’re in the profession

Top tips for applications:

DON’T say you want to be an attorney because

  • you’re bored of working in the lab
  • you’re interested in science
  • you want to be at the forefront of technology

DO say:

  • you want to be an advocate for a client
  • you’re interested in communications and language
  • you like solving problems and finding solutions
  • you’re interested in incremental improvements to business.


Support for King’s’ International Graduate Entrepreneurs

Are you a soon to be/recent graduate or postdoctoral researcher?  Do you have a genuine and credible business idea, with the entrepreneurial skills to being them it fruition?  If so, you may be eligible to apply for Tier 1 visa endorsement from King’s.

Tier 1 is an immigration category aimed at supporting international graduates to stay in the UK whilst developing their business.  To apply, you will first need to go through a two stage application process at King’s, after which successful applicants will receive an endorsement letter, required for the final stage application to UKTI for an official visa.

The application process is currently managed by King’s Careers & Employability.  The application round for spring term will open on Monday 15 January 2015.  The deadline for applications is Friday 27 February 2015.  There will be an information briefing on Monday 2 February 2015.  To find out more about the process and whether you are eligible to apply, please visit the careers webpage or contact

Social Entrepreneurship in Education Festival

King’s is hosting the Social Entrepreneurship in Education Festival on Friday 21st November.

The festival will be the first ever of its kind at King’s and will celebrate national leading social enterprises and raise awareness on the value of social entrepreneurship as well as the many opportunities available in this field for you!

Over 30 Social Enterprises including Grow MovementSportInspired and  Elephant Branded  to name a few will be present. Alongside this, there is a full day of workshops and talks led by industry experts such as The Champion Agency, ClearlySo, UnLtd and Shift as well as workshops on building business skills organised by King’s Staff and Students from societies such as Enactus KCL, KCL Business Club, KCL Tech Society and KCL Innovation Forum. ​​

To round off the festival, there will be a keynote reception in The Great Hall, Strand Campus. Featuring a panel including Cameron Saul (Co-founder and Director at Bottletop), Kresse Wesling (Co-founder and Director at Elvis & Kresse) ​and chaired by Cliff Prior (CEO of UnLtd). Current King’s students and UnLtd award winners, Oli Zolman (CEO and Founder of The JellyFish Medicine Portfolio) and Elizabeth Adelodun (Founder of MindTorch) Will also be speaking. A drinks and networking reception will follow the seminar!

The Social Entrepreneurship in Education Festival is working in collaboration with UCL and the London Business School as part of the London Social Innovation Collective, for more information please visit,

The festival will be held at the Macadam Building, Strand Campus. Doors will open at 10:30 and it’s free to attend so please register for SEEFest here by Thursday 20th November 2014.

For more information, including the day’s itinerary, stall holders, workshops and keynote speakers, please read the Social Entrepreneurship In Education Festival Program.