LU-MIT Entrepreneurship Exchange inspires students to turn big ideas into reality

Loughborough students at Killian Court, MIT (L-R): Felicity Phillips, Fiona Gartland, Samuel Johnson, Alex Nash, James Stevenson, Chris Ruddock.

Six students from Loughborough University’s Wolfson School gained invaluable insight into the world of successful entrepreneurship as part of a two-week exchange. 

The LU-MIT Summer Entrepreneurship Exchange between the University and STE@M at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ran from 9-22 September, and enabled the students to further develop their entrepreneurial skills within engineering and sports technology. It is the first time that students from Loughborough have visited MIT as part of the exchange. 

Following a business pitch to a panel of academic staff (which was open to the Wolfson School), the following students were selected to take part in the exchange: 

  • Chris Ruddock, 22, fifth year Product Design Engineering MEng (Hons) DIS

Pitched: a device to aid high performance sports training 

  • James Stevenson, 23, fifth year Product Design Engineering MEng (Hons) DIS

Pitched: a system to improve agricultural efficiency in developing countries 

  • Alex Nash, 21, fourth year Product Design Engineering BEng (Hons) DIS

Pitched: assistive technology for dementia sufferers and their carers 

  • Fiona Gartland, 19, second year Sports Technology BSc (Hons)

Pitched: training aid for sports, particularly trampolining to improve athletic performance 

  • Samuel Johnson, 20, second year Mechanical Engineering BEng (Hons)

Pitched: a way to simplify modern day technology for elderly people 

  • Felicity Phillips, 21, fourth year Sports Technology BSc (Hons) DIS

Pitched: safety monitor system for cycle helmets. 

The students attended a variety of lectures at MIT, took part in team building exercises and engaged in networking events with industry specialists and start-ups in the Boston area. The exchange culminated in a presentation of their individual business ideas to a group of MIT academics.

The students agreed that the exchange had been a rewarding and motivating experience which had encouraged them to think beyond their degrees. MIT has since invited the students to apply for scholarships in the future and many of them have already made some useful industry contacts. 

Alex said: “This exchange was an incredible opportunity to visit the top university in the world and learn a lot in the process. But it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Loughborough University and MIT organising this exchange – a great effort on both sides.” 

Chris said: “The experience really opened my eyes to what there is available for graduate start-ups. It has really helped with ideas for the future.” 

Dr Paul Sherratt, Senior Lecturer at the Sports Technology Institute, added: “This should be the first of many visits to MIT as we plan to continue and grow the student exchange programme for future years. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the students to experience at first hand the culture and entrepreneurial eco-system of MIT. 

“All six students have been inspired by the experience and the people they met during their visit, and I’m confident this will propel them on to great academic achievements and a successful career.”

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