Emily Kwong is a biomedical engineer and one of the three co-founders of InVent. InVent is a company set out to develop a software solution to meet the enormous challenge of weaning hospital patients off mechanical ventilation. We aim to introduce automation and data-driven methods to personalise weaning goals and methods.
With a background in Biomedical Engineering, I have always wanted to create something that can help patients and clinicians. Being an entrepreneur means that you have to understand a problem and then think of ways to solve it, therefore I feel that the field of medical technology and devices very naturally lends itself to entrepreneurship.
I think entrepreneurship is about identifying a problem, a problem which has a big enough need for a solution, then drawing on whatever resources you have to try and solve this problem.
By speaking to potential users and people who deal with this problem daily, and involving them in the development process. Once we have spoken to clinicians from different expertise, and got feedback from them, we know that this was an idea worth developing.
Critical thinking – because there are just so much information out there and so many decisions you have to make, and you always wish you have more time and information. So it’s key to be critical about information presented to you. Problem solving and perseverance – there are always new problems and challenges that you and your business have to face every day. So it’s about keeping going and thinking of new ways to tackle your daily challenges.
I like the fact that I am taking steps, no matter big or small, to create something that will help someone.
There are a lot of talent in the local Oxfordshire startup scene. Companies that inspire me include BioCarbon Engineering and GaitThaw who both started in Oxford. I think both these companies have found novel and inventive use of an existing piece of technology to tackle problems in a different field.
I would ask them ‘What would you do when things aren’t going well?’ and ‘What keeps you going?’
I would probably say that I didn’t have an open mind at the beginning, and as I go through the process I am learning more about myself, I am learning to not be constrained by my preconceptions, and I believe this is something I will continue to work on.
Our company is at an early stage, the team invests our own time and money to grow the idea. We are being as resourceful as possible and we are pitching our idea for funding wherever possible.
We participated in the IMAGINE IF competition and we got through to the Oxford finals as one of the top 10 in the regional competition. The various support and mentorship that we got from the program was invaluable to the development of InVent. It was also really important to us as it was InVent’s debut at the local startup scene.
I really like the sense of community in the Oxfordshire startup scene. There are so much knowledge and experience here, and people are so happy to help you and share their experience. And of course that means the competition is tough, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I would tell them about my experience, how and where I got some mentorship. As I think mentorship can be crucial to the ‘make or break’ to a new startup.
Speak to different people, to cynics and to supporters. And don’t be afraid to approach experts, they are often keen to help.