NEWS27 September 2022

Introducing Michael Kohn – Innovation Advisor

What is your role at the university?

I work as the University of Surrey’s Innovation Advisor, supporting almost 400 innovative small and medium business members within the SETsquared Scale Up community.  My job involves providing advice and support in the preparation of their funding bids in collaboration with university academics.

What stage of business do you typically work with?

The range of businesses is quite large. I can work with pre-revenue first time entrepreneurs with just an innovative idea right up to well-funded businesses employing 30+ people and scaling fast.

What kind of support do you offer?

My work usually starts with a meeting to discuss and understand the business’ innovation funding strategy, also how, where and when the university’s input would be valuable to them. This conversation progresses to developing briefs, finding the right academics to work with, liaising with university finance, and preparing a competitive bid together.

Is it difficult to advise on different kinds of businesses and innovations?

The breadth can be challenging, but I’ve spent over 15 years working in startups and have won several innovation grants myself for my own businesses. Previously I practiced as a qualified architect, so I am very used to coordinating a wide range of technical information and disciplines and bringing everyone together to contribute towards a meaningful project outcome.

How specifically do you help companies with their bids?

I can be very hands on or take a back seat. It depends upon the project context and resources of each project team. I sometime advise businesses from the Surrey Technology Centre who just require a quick steer on their Innovate UK application, whilst I have also rolled my sleeves up to help with actual preparation of answers and also design interview presentations.

Why should Surrey Research Park tenant businesses reach out to you?

Most innovation focused businesses know how competitive these funding competitions are, and that collaboration with a well-known university can give a competitive edge. Crafting winning bids, however, takes time, so the earlier the business engages with our support service, the better everyone’s chances of success.

How can innovation leads get in touch?

Anyone can reach me directly on my email. I’m also running a “Collaboration Clinic” on October 11th to look at collaborative projects at any stage of their development. Places can be booked on a first come, first served basis here.