What was the inspiration behind starting Interactive Scientific?
It started in 2013, with an art project called Danceroom Spectroscopy. I joined a year later inspired by the work the team was doing, which combined scientific data, immersive technology and creative approaches to create a dance show and installation. It showed incredible engagement and encouraged people to get curious about science. I had a vision. I wanted to convert the findings from the art project into something that could be commercially scalable and have an impact on science enterprise and education. Now I lead the team in achieving just this.
Tell us a little bit more about the product.
Our core technology is a molecular innovation platform. In simple terms, we use immersive technology to recreate what it would be like if humans could shrink to the size of atoms and molecules. Underpinning the interactive visualisations of molecules is the scientific data that describes the behaviour of atoms and molecules. Therefore, our technology is useful for communicating abstract scientific concepts within science teams as well as in education.
We have 3 product lines:
- iSciCOLLAB is a tool that is currently in development; it combines 3D visualisation with collaboration so that teams can work together on molecular problems (such as drug discovery). We designed it for more effective collaboration, which could lead to time savings of up to 90%. It also provides in-situ training for teams.
- iSciVIS is a 3D molecular visualiser which we are currently enhancing following beta testing. Individual research scientists or learners can use this product in tertiary or vocational education to speed up understanding of molecular systems.
- iSciLEARN is currently a free resource which can be found at learn.nanosimbox.io — this is designed for secondary and FE learners and puts molecules in the context of subjects that are useful to learners. iSciLEARN includes a molecular builder and a molecular viewer and has been shown to increase attainment and engagement in science.
Tell us a little bit more about your experience in the EDUCATE programme?
We were part of cohort 5 on the EDUCATE programme — which finished a year ago, but we’re still are part of the EDUCATE “family” and continue to derive benefits from it. I used it as an opportunity to grow skills and confidence in other members of the team as well as myself. We were able to develop a research project and better understand how to fold ongoing research into our product development. We were awarded the EDUCATE Evidence Applied Award, which shows the strides that our team has made. I am very proud of that. We had support on commercial aspects of the business in the form of investment preparation. I was also given the opportunity to pitch at City Hall late last year, which was a fantastic experience and raised our profile in the investment community. Also, it has been great to have a community of people to support us, learn from, and amplify our successes.
How do you think the support in the UK has helped launch and grow your product?
As well as EDUCATE, several UK based organisations have helped us to launch and I predict that we will work with these organisations even further as we progress. The UK have leading global communities in both the EdTech and life sciences. Being part of those communities has been vital for our success. These communities are essential in finding the right staff, partnerships, and customers to drive the business forward.
A deep-tech company who wants to make an impact, like us, needs the capital to carry out R&D and develop enterprise-grade products. At the same time, being part of developing an emerging market requires thought leadership and market education. Finance from Ufi Charitable trust and Innovate UK have both been invaluable to the creation, survival, and success of our company. We have also had a significant amount of support from the Set Squared incubator.
BESA are fantastic supporters. I value the opportunities that have come from being a BESA member, including being part of the British Chinese Business Summit delegation last year and speaking at GES Global. I look forward to taking up more opportunities with BESA in the future. The international opportunities have proven that there is still great admiration for “brand Britain” in education.
The researchers, teachers, and schools that we have worked with have been instrumental in creating tools that can be of use. We have embarked on several University partnerships, and we have approximately 50 teachers from across the UK who have gone over and above to input into our product through user-centric design approaches.
Events such as EdTechXEurope have also provided an excellent opportunity to be part of the UK education community.
How has technology helped advance your product to reach your target market?
Our product is all technology-based, so there are various aspects:
Cloud technology has allowed us to get high-performance commuting into schools, which would have previously only been found in research labs. Immersive technology is a differentiator for us — this is what sets us apart and gets us noticed by users and the community. Without this technology, we couldn’t virtualise a 3D molecular world — it is a game-changer for how science research teams.
Our proprietary technology allows learners to interact with molecules, constituting good mental models and increasing engagement.
Finally, How do you define success?
The ultimate success is being able to do something I love, with people I respect and add great value to users and other stakeholders in the business sustainably. However, I have been doing this long enough to realise that defining success by an endpoint is not very helpful. So to me, personal success is feeling motivated and confident to embrace the opportunities provided by each day alongside people I trust (whether that be in relationships, business or other adventures).
In terms of the business, I am aiming for a sustainable business model that provides a profound impact on users. I also want to celebrate all the small wins along the way.
If you are interested in finding out more about the EDUCATE programme, you can read more here > https://educate.london/join/