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University of Surrey Engineering Students Reach the Final of the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition

On 26 October 2020, Isin Surekcigil, a BEng in Electronics Engineering with Nanotechnology, and Manuel Grincho, an MEng in Electronics Engineering with Space Systems, 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, Isin and Manuel were the winners of the University of Surrey’s ‘Big Ideas’ innovation competition and won £1,000 from EIBC for creating SimSurgeon, a piece of simulation software that allows medical students and surgeons to practise surgery in a safe environment. He then entered and won a place in the national EIBC Champion of Champions Final where he is competing for a Big Ideas Award and a further £3,000. The cash prize will go towards the ongoing development of Inpulse.

SimSurgeon: Creating a safe virtual environment to practise surgery skills

SimSurgeon is software that uses haptic VR technology to give medical students and surgeons a safe environment to practice in that is as close to real-life as possible. The software, which uses machine learning to simulate the surgery process, is currently focused on cardiovascular surgeries, but could potentially be extended to other surgical fields in the future.

Isin explained: “I have lots of doctors around me every day, so when we were asked to give a start-up idea for one of our subjects, I came up with this. I knew that there were lots of surgical complications, mostly caused by not having enough practice with enough variation. With SimSurgeon, we hope to bring much better training opportunities that result in more successful surgeries and better patient health. The medical network is so vast that by increasing the success rates of hospitals and other institutions, we will also be able to increase the health conditions of society as a whole.” 

Manuel added: “I believe SimSurgeon could drastically lower the surgical error percentages by providing surgeons and medical practitioners with precautionary training before real surgeries.”

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, SimSurgeon will have just six minutes to convince the judges, through their presentation and Q&As, that they should be crowned Champion of Champions and take home a £3,000 Big Ideas Award. Amongst other criteria, the judges will be assessing just how much of an impact SimSurgeon could have on its target market, and how it might solve real-world problems and challenges experienced by trainee surgeons and healthcare professionals. 

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 a BEng in Electronics Engineering with Nanotechnology who now has a passion for entrepreneurship, Isin feels very strongly about the impact business education can have on engineers and technologists. She commented:

“Although engineers are mainly taught in technical subjects, it’s important for them to have the skills to bring their knowledge to a non-technical audience. For start-ups, it’s very important to be able to sell products to people who might not necessarily have any technical knowledge of the subject. Communication is also important on a general level. Engineers tend to work in teams and have to communicate between each other as well as with outside institutions, which requires a lot of soft skills training. No matter how good the product is, it’s very hard to bring an idea to life without good business knowledge.”