Eulergy helps connect businesses and academics for social good. Founder Ben Byford tells Nicola Slawson about the positive potential of higher education and the importance of a cohesive ethos in a small company
The Good Business column catches up with people who are leading social change. It is created in collaboration with Impact Hub Islington, a co-working and business incubation space in London for socially minded entrepreneurs.
Nicola: Ben, tell me about Eulergy and how it works
Ben: Eulergy is a central site where businesses and academics can find each other. Students and academics can post information about their research which organisations can get matched to for collaboration, funding, data, resources and experience. Organisations can also post requests for research and get matched to those academics already interested in that area.
Can anyone use Eulergy? Is the public version ready to launch?
Eulergy.com is live and anyone can register and post a project. It’s currently free in beta. If you’re a student or academic you will get an academic account, which will be free forever.
Can you give an example of a successful match?
One project we’re running is between an interior design company working on art and wellbeing in hospitals. They are looking for art and psychology students to work with on a real project for a London hospital. These sorts of projects are amazing, as academics are able to gain data from the live environment furthering their studies as well as seeing the impact of their research in action.
What motivates you to do the work you do?
I’m motivated by the apparent lack of support for research within current higher education (HE) trends i.e. MOOCs (massive open online courses), higher student fees, enterprise focus. I’m interested in lowering the barrier to entry for small to medium-sized organisations to access graduates, intellectual property, and innovations from HE institutes. Where else do you find people whose job it is to think? I believe strongly that HE needs better support from the private sector for the benefit of everyone.
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What have you learnt about being an entrepreneur since you started Eulergy?
Lots and lots of things and I’m constantly learning. A few things I can think of off the top of my head are that there is no one place to find all the information you need to start and run a business. Finding the right people can be hard and shouldn’t be done in haste and that networking is now your life.
As director, how have you found managing a team? Do you have any words of advice?
The people in my team are amazing and it’s been a pleasure over the last year to work with them. We’re still small so I’m looking forward to working with a full-time team and the pressures and pleasures that brings. I’ve had some falling outs over business ethics previously and I would urge that you should talk openly about your business ethos and hopes to get everyone aligned, or not, as the case may be. For example, imagine every but one person thinks the company believes mainly in making money, when actually it’s more concerned with social impact. This can be problematic in a small organisation.
Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
To see Eulergy help thousands of students and companies collaborate every year and see the amazing innovations come to life from those connections. I would love to work on more projects supporting knowledge transfer, research dissemination and generation. I’m also excited to steer my own company in its direction and run it socially and ethically, and to explore what that means to my team and I.