Highwire CDT: Lancaster University

HighWire aspires to be a world class, cross-disciplinary and user-focused Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) at Lancaster University focusing on the Digital Economy.

The centre places digital innovation at the heart of its curriculum and ethos. We look to produce a new breed of PhD graduates, who are both highly innovative, have strong leadership skills, and therefore capable of leading the desired transformation in business and society.

Alumni Case Study:

Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurism: Dr John Hardy

  • Graduated from HighWire CDT in 2014

CDT research: John’s research focused on developing
tools that help people construct, deploy, and innovate with interactive projected displays and ubiquitous computing. This
included designing, implementing and evaluating blue sky ideas and novel interactive systems, such as collaborative software engineering workspaces, interactive office desks, augmented reality games, and an interactive projected display toolkit.

Post-doctoral career – John commercialised his doctoral research by co-founding Manchester-based spin out company Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd, together with fellow Lancaster University PhD student, Carl Ellis. The business specialises in providing interactive projected displays and programmable physical spaces. In 2014, Hardy & Ellis successfully pitched for an Angel Investment Network investment and a £72,000 Innovate UK Digital Launchpad grant, and in September 2015, H&E were named Duke of York Entrepreneur of the Week.

CDT benefits –  Being part of a CDT meant that John’s
entrepreneurism was backed by credible research and provided the opportunity to learn key leadership and management skills from
his academic supervisor who demonstrated that “the best leaders create opportunities for those they lead”.

Finding the right person to start a business with has also been critically important for John, someone who shared the same passion and goals. Of this, John says

“Although we have skills in common, we also have unique individual expertise that contributes to the business in differing ways. We received strong support from the CDT and university with finance, advice, and introductions to potential business contacts”.

Impact on the Digital Economy – Hardy & Ellis have brought benefits to the local and national economy by providing new employment opportunities for subcontractors who work with their business, as well as offering innovative and more cost effective methods for interactive displays and software for physical spaces.

July 2016.

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