The Digital Economy Network (DEN) hosted their second PhD writing retreat of 2018 at the idyllic setting of Thrumpton Hall; a spectacular 17th century English country house, set in the village of Thrumpton near Nottingham. PhD students from across seven EPSRC-funded Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) signed up for this event to have the opportunity to focus on research writing or associated work relating to their doctoral study.
18 CDT students from the Network’s Cloud Computing, Embedded Intelligence, Horizon, HighWire, Media & Arts Technology, and Web Science CDTs attended the two-day retreat.
The retreat, which facilitated by Andy Darby of Lancaster University, is a structured programme which aims to establish a highly productive and healthy relationship with writing over the two days. Each day is broken down into four writing sessions of either an hour or ninety minutes, with set break times, including an hour slot for lunch to allow people to move away from their work, talk with other CDT students from across the Network, have food and refreshments and to take walks in the surrounding gardens and parkland.
Attendees paired up at the start of day one and discussed with each other their specific writing objectives for the event, and then individuals evaluated their progress against their set goals at key points during the retreat.
CDT students used the retreat to work on various tasks including thesis chapters, literature reviews, interview transcription, data analysis, coding, journal submissions, conference papers, blogs and annual review reports.
The majority of the 18 students who attended, also enjoyed an evening meal in the Hall’s impressive and grandiose dining room and stayed overnight in the country house, and were extremely well looked after by the Thrumpton events staff. DEN had exclusive use of the Hall and various rooms for the duration of the event, which provided ideal conditions for people to focus on their work, and base themselves in different rooms across the two days.
The next two-day retreat will be held on 15-16 May 2018 at Elmore Court in Gloucester.
Thanks and acknowledgements:
DEN would like to thank Andy Darby of Lancaster University for facilitating the retreat, and providing writing coaching and advice to the individual delegates who required this. Thanks also to Paula, Lynn, Nancy and the other staff at Thrumpton Hall for doing such a great job of looking after us during our stay. Thanks to all the CDT students who attended and I hope you made the progress you aimed for.
Audience:DEN CDT Directors, CDT students, CDT staff, DEN collaborators, stakeholders and EPSRC
Free to attend (can attend the different parts of the event separately if preferred)
On Thursday 1 February, the Digital Economy Network (DEN) will host it’s Annual All-Hands Event for the Network’s CDT Directors/Managers/Researchers/Administrators, CDTstudents and other key collaborators, which will be followed by an Evening Networking Reception, from 5.30pm – 7.30pm at the Digital Catapult Centre. The evening event will commence with short talks from three current CDT students, and will include a DEN CDT table-top exhibition showcase. A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and nibbles will be served.
On Friday 2 February, DEN will hold a CDT Post-doc Careers Symposium, alongside the CDT showcase table-top exhibition, from 10.00am-3.30pm, featuring talks from academia and industry, CDT alumni presentations and a career tracking discussion panel. Delegates will also be able to continue to view the CDT exhibits within the breaks and over lunch.
PROGRAMME OF ACTIVITIES:
1 February: DEN Annual Meeting 2018
DEN CDT Directors Meeting -
FOR CDT DIRECTORS/EPSRC
CDT Directors/EPSRC only.
**DEN Annual Meeting event starts for all delegates**
Welcome and DEN Review
Professor Sarah Sharples, DEN Director & Felicia Black, DEN Manager
11.30am - 11.45am
CDT Table-top Showcase: Exhibits Overview
11.45am - 12.15pm
EPSRC Digital Economy Theme update
John Baird, Head of Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme, EPSRC
12.15pm - 12.45pm
DE Summer School 2018: Initial Plans
Mike Board Project Manager, Centre for Digital Entertainment, Bournemouth University (followed by open discussion/suggestions for event content)
12.45pm - 1.30pm
Lunch and Networking
1.30pm - 1.50pm
Digital Economy Diversity Network update
Angelika Strohmayer, Digital Civics CDT Student, and Gefion Thuermer, Web Science CDT Student
DEN Activity Ideas: Briefing
Professor Sarah Sharples/Professor Les Carr - DEN
2.00pm - 3.00pm
DEN Activity, Events and Ideas Workshop
3.00pm - 3.30pm
Sharing of ideas/Funding decisions/DEN Actions
Annual Meeting closes
1 February: DEN Evening Networking Drinks Reception
Drinks and nibbles served (Wine, Beer, Soft Drinks)
CDT STUDENT TALKS:
Vanessa Pope, CDT Student, Media & Arts Technology CDT, Queen Mary University of London
Robert J. Homewood, CDT Student, Intelligent Games & Game Intelligence (IGGI) CDT, Goldsmiths, University of London
Ian Johnson, Digital Civics CDT Student, Newcastle University
6.10pm - 7.30pm
Drinks, networking and table-top exhibit viewing
2 February: DEN CDT Postdoc Careers Symposium
(with CDT table-top exhibition showcase)
9.30am - 10.00am
Registration, refreshments and CDT table top exhibit viewing
10.00am - 10.10am
Welcome and overview of day Professor Les Carr, Director - Web Science Institute, University of Southampton (Digital Economy Network Co-Director)
Academic Engagement and CDT Research Collaborations with the Digital Catapult, Dr Catarina Fernandes, Academic Engagement Manager, Digital Catapult Centre
Securing Innovation & Doctoral Prize Funding to further develop your research: A case study - Revealing the Mill Race: An exploration of collaborative flood risk ontologies Justin Larner, Highwire CDT, Lancaster University
Academic route: Postdoc progression into Academia at the University of Nottingham
Dr Chris Carter & Dr John Harvey, Assistant Professors, Nottingham University Business School (Horizon CDT alumni)
Short break/refreshments available
CDT Student Alumni Presentations: Graduates/alumni from Digital Economy Network CDTs will share their career destination and progression experiences after completing their PhD, and internship placements will also be covered
Alumni speakers will be postdoc graduates/final stage CDT students from a variety of Digital Economy CDTs who have progressed into a variety of career fields; within academia, industry, entrepreneurial start-ups, consultancies, or have completed doctoral placements within national government.
- Dr Paula Parpart, Financial Computing CDT Alumna (UCL)
- Dr Emily Webber, Horizon CDT Alumna (Nottingham)
- Dr Joe Lyske - Media & Arts Technology CDT Alumnus (QMUL)
- Christian Butterworth - HighWire CDT Student (Lancaster) and Daniel Kershaw, HighWire CDT Alumnus (Lancaster)
12.10pm - 12.40pm
CDT Alumni Career Destination Panel Discussion: Chaired by Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns, Director, EPSRC/AHRC Media & Arts Technology CDT, Queen Mary University of London
Buffet lunch, networking and CDT table top exhibit viewing
1.30pm - 3.00pm
Postdoctoral Career Paths: Positives and potential employment challenges - Which career path is best for me?
In this session we will share experiences of a variety of issues including:
- Challenges of combining writing up a PhD thesis with searching for/securing post-doc employment, opportunities and funding.
- How the skills and experiences we gain within CDT programmes better prepare us for postdoc employment.
- What additional advice and support would help us/would have helped us in the final stages of our PhD?
3.00pm - 3.30pm
Sharing outcomes of discussions/Future
actions Group discussions will be shared for the benefit of all delegates.
The Digital Economy Network delivered a two day entrepreneurship workshop and pitching competition specifically for Digital Economy doctoral students at the Digital Catapult Centre in London on 19-20 September.
Over 40 attendees from across 11 EPSRC Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Universities within the Network attended the event, which was led by Professor Philip Treleaven, Director of the EPSRC Financial Computing & Analytics CDT at University College London, who had put together an exciting and informative two-day programme of activities, including CDT alumni speakers, from which the students could gain valuable insights and expertise.
After being welcomed to the event, delegates benefited from masterclass seminars delivered by Professor Treleaven on idea visioning, branding, and funding pitches, as well as introducing three entrepreneurial case study presentations from former CDT students of the Financial Computing CDT at UCL, who had gone on to launch their own spin-out companies and products during and after completing their PhD. Chris Skilton, who is an entrepreneurship consultant, led a session on the components of the Business Model Canvas.
After lunch, the hackathon competition was launched by Dr Chris Carter, Assistant Professor of the Nottingham University Business School, and mentors Chris Skilton (Entrepreneurship Consultant) and Oonagh McGee of Newcastle University. The attendees formed small cross-CDT groups to work together on a chosen digital economy themed innovation idea, that would be pitched to a judging panel during the afternoon of the following day. The Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and EntrepreneurshipIngenuity Process was showcased as a suggested three-stage model to help the students identify and develop an enterprising idea.
The students continued working on their ideas during the afternoon and into the evening over dinner in the capital city.
After starting the day with coffee and croissants, Philip Treleaven delivered an informative presentation on company structures, intellectual property and potential sources of entrepreneurial funding.
The groups then continued working hard on their ideas ready for the competition in the afternoon. Each group had been given the brief of a five-minute presentation, with 10 minutes per group for questions from the floor.
After a well-earned buffet spread (which was a working lunch for some), the final afternoon session was dedicated to the ‘pitch-off, where the seven groups of PhD students presented their idea to the independent ‘Dragon’s Den’ panel, and there was a £1000 cash prize for the PhD student group who were judged to deliver the best five-minute pitch. Each group was kept strictly to time by the Dragons!
There were some truly fantastic novel ideas put forward by each of the groups, that aimed to address a broad range of technological, societal and economic problems such as middleware to help solve home-buying/renting challenges in London, supply of bicycle storage racks/spaces, and stress-level measuring software and apps.
Overall Winners: Huge congratulations were in order for CDT students Cristina Guerrero Romero (IGGI CDT – Essex), Youssef Hamid (Embedded Intelligence CDT – Loughborough), Yitong Huang (Horizon CDT – Nottingham), and Alex Owen (Web Science CDT – Southampton) who collectively won the £1000 cash prize for the best business pitch for their proposed innovative CycleRack app idea (see logo left), which aimed to match cyclists and local businesses for mutual benefit to provide affordable, secure and convenient bicycle storage space.
There was also a People’s Choice Award up for grabs, which was voted for by the other PhD students anonymously, using a interactive voting app. The Dragons were exempt from voting for this category. The winners were Carlos Gonzalez Diaz (IGGI CDT – York), Dr Ege Sezen (HighWire CDT – Lancaster), Tatiana Styliari (Horizon CDT – Nottingham) and Fabio Turchet (Centre for Digital Entertainment – Bournemouth) for their employment skills matching data anaylsis AI platform ‘EmployAIble‘, who were rewarded with £250 of Amazon vouchers.
DEN hopes to deliver the same event in 2018, as the feedback from the students who attended was extremely positive, and they relished the chance to learn from entrepreneurial experts, as well as having the opportunity to meet and work collaboratively with their peers.
Acknowledgments and thanks
DEN would like to thank Professor Philip Treleaven of UCL for putting together the extremely well received two day programme together, and also Dr Chris Carter (University of Nottingham), Chris Skilton (Entrepreneurial Consultant) and Oonagh McGee (Newcastle University) for co-organising, delivering and mentoring the students at the event. Thanks also to be extended to Dr Catarina Fernandes, Academic Engagement Manager at the Digital Catapult Centre, for being part of the Dragons Den judging panel for the group presentations, and to DEN Social Media Advocate Chira Tochia for social media coverage. Finally we would also like to thank the Financial Computing CDT alumni speakers who gave up their time to come and share their experiences with the next generation of CDT students.
We would also like to thank all the CDT/PhD students that attended and participated, which made it such an inspiring and vibrant event!