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Imperial College London Engineering Postgraduates Reach the Final of the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition

On 26 October 2020 WuQing Hipsh and Taiskuke Ikawa, both MScs in Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial College London, will compete against nine other university teams to win a prestigious Engineers in Business Competition (EIBC) Award, a share of £10,000 and business mentoring from a Sainsbury Management Fellow.

The EIBC supports and promotes the idea of a combined engineering and business education and provides prize funding to universities to help them encourage more engineers and technology students/graduates to get involved in innovation and entrepreneurship. In a world that is moving and developing so rapidly, these skills are vital to help tackle challenging global problems and to improve our lives. 

This year, WuQing and Taiskuke caught the judges’ attention when they entered Imperial’s competition, We Innovate which is supported by an EIBC prize fund. The team pitched WeAlign, a vestibular rehabilitation tool that uses validated therapies, data analytics and gamification to encourage self-care and lighten the burden on the healthcare system. They then entered and won a place in the national EIBC Champion of Champions Final where they are competing for a Business Start-up Award and a further £3,000. The cash prize will go towards the ongoing development of WeAlign.

WeAlign: aiding vestibular rehabilitation

WuQing explains her innovation: “Twelve years ago my mother was diagnosed with vestibular impairment, resulting in dizziness that made mundane situations, like navigating supermarkets and crowds, daunting. Our healthy vestibular systems are essential for balance, but they tend to degrade with age, affecting 34.5% of adults over the age of 40 in the US, leading to dizziness and increased risk of falling. Currently, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy or VRT is a leading treatment for this dysfunction, but access to this therapy is limited by time, money, and transportation. If a patient has access to therapy, they must continue their exercises daily without feedback or data.

 “Our software tracks quantitative data. Before and after every session, we ask users how they feel to track their qualitative changes. WeAlign makes the therapeutic process enjoyable and encourages consistent practice. The NHS is expanding online platforms to encourage self-care and to decrease costs. WeAlign could lighten the burden on the NHS from an estimated £120 per month to a mere £10 per month. WeAlign will increase vital accessibility and adherence to vestibular rehabilitation.” 

The Awards Presentation Ceremony – 26 October 2020

The live online dragons’ den style competition will be compered by TV presenter and engineer, Kate Bellingham. Competing against nine other teams, WeAlign will have just six minutes to convince the judges, through their presentation and Q&A, that they should be crowned Champion of Champions and take home a £3,000 Business Start-up Award. Amongst other criteria, the judges will be assessing just how much of an impact WeAlign might have on helping organisations like the NHS, and how it will help people overcome real challenges with vestibular rehabilitation. 

The prestigious judging panel comprises: 

●    Ana Avaliani, Associate Director, Enterprise, Royal Academy of Engineering

●    Gareth Trainer, Chair, Enterprise Educators UK

●    Henning von Spreckelsen, Director and Investor in Plastecowood

●    Steve Cleverley, CEO, Oxentia Ltd, Global Innovation Consultancy

As an Innovation Design Engineering postgraduate who now has a taste for entrepreneurship, WuQing is passionate about business education for engineers and technologists. She said: 

“Business innovation skills help ground innovation in reality. Students are looking at the world with fresh eyes and reimagining the status quo. There can be a gap between the energetic process of innovation and the labour and intelligence required in bringing those projects to life. Business innovation skills help to bridge that gap. One of the most important skills I learned at the Imperial Enterprise Lab was how best to communicate my ideas. We had a wonderful lecture from a magician, a session with a pitching coach, and one-on-one business tutorials. Learning how to pitch has been vital in communicating our goals, and developing WeAlign into a real-world start-up.”