Atom Festival: Spinning Out Science Event

The ATOM Festival of Science takes place in Abingdon-on-Thames, between March 10-18, 2018. Now in its fifth year, ATOM celebrates Abingdon as the centre of science in Oxford and the Science Vale, including the Harwell Campus and Culham Science Centre.

The festival delivers diverse, imaginative and family-friendly events to allow local people to discover world-class science and technology taking place on their doorstep, as well as learning about the companies, organisations and scientists who make it happen. The festival also partners with schools to engage with young people to inspire and encourage them to develop
their scientific interests.

For more information, tickets and information about other events visit: or follow @ATOMSciFest on Twitter.

Event: The Billion Dollar Question: Insider secrets of how to spin out science into a billion-dollar business

We all know the myth of the inventor, working alone in their laboratory or workshop, having a eureka moment and coming up with an idea or invention that changes the world. This Hollywood inspired fantasy is a long way from the truth. For an idea to make the long journey from concept to product requires a special kind of person, with tenacity, endless optimism, the ability to inspire colleagues and investors, but most of all, it requires that rare fusion of technical ingenuity and business acumen that is the tech-entrepreneur.

On Saturday 17 March at 11am, there will be a round table discussion where you have an opportunity to listen and quiz some entrepreneurs who are running or working in three of the most exciting Oxfordshire based technology companies. Find out what it really takes to get your brilliant idea out of the workshop, to a point where it is changing the world.

This is a special event, run jointly by the ATOM Festival and the Bessemer Society, which is a forum and mutual society formed of ’serial’ chief executives, founders and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating successful new companies based on technological innovation.

Stephen Bennington, from the Bessemer Society who will be chairing the event says, “Oxford and the Science Vale has a track record of nurturing world-beating start-up companies, and the event ‘Spinning Out Science’ will see three tech-entrepreneurs from the region, sharing war stories and discussing the risks, the rewards, the highs and lows of running a spin-out company.”

Contributing to the discussion are three ‘Dragons’ – scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs involved in three innovative start-ups in the Science Vale which between them have a market capitalisation of over £1 billion. They include:

Gordon Sanghera, CEO and co-founder of Oxford Nanopore, which has developed the world’s first and only nanopore DNA sequencer, the MinION. The MinION is a portable, real time, long read, low-cost device that has been designed to bring easy biological analyses to anyone, whether in scientific research, education or a range of real-world applications such as
disease/pathogen surveillance, environmental monitoring, food-chain surveillance, self quantification or even microgravity biology.

Christoph Birkl, co-founder and CEO of Brill Power, a new Oxford based company established in 2016 that has developed a breakthrough technology making regular lithium ion batteries smarter – so smart, that discarded cells can be repurposed, diverting waste and avoiding the need to manufacture new cells. Their first product, the ionQube, is currently being piloted in
two off-grid villages in Kenya.

Shefali Sharma works at Oxford Space Systems (OSS), a venture capital backed, early stage space tech business. She completed her Masters in Space Engineering and joined OSS to learn the ‘black art’ of the business world. At OSS, Shefali has been assigned with the task of exploring how OSS might expand to address market opportunities in Asia. She was selected as a
‘promising leader’ under the Royal Academy of Engineering SME Leaders’ programme.

Mark Thornton of ATOM stressed how inspiring such an event will be to young people studying science, or entrepreneurs looking at how science might benefit their own companies. “It’s rare to be able to hear directly from such innovative and ground-breaking companies, particularly the three unique and talented individuals who will be at the forum. I think it will be an exciting
event, and inspirational for anyone looking to further a career in a science business.”

The event takes place on Saturday, March 17 at 11am in the Charles Maude Room, Abingdon School. Tickets cost £4 (£2 concessions). For tickets, and more information about the ATOM  Science Festival, please visit