Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back from Engeland

It been a good couple of days: I flew over to England Sunday morning to pitch a start-up business to a venture group in Cambridge, 'just arrived back in the Netherlands this morning (the usual EasyJet delays from Stansted, and ice in Amsterdam on arrival <sigh>).

Nonetheless, it was nice to be back in Cambridge: it's a unique place that genuinely changed my life during the year that I spent there earning a Master's degree in 2005. An 800 year old institution, steeped in tradition and history, the University is also doing the most cutting-edge and intellectually demanding work in the world. It's filled with wonderful professors, engaging guest lecturers, is a major European hub for biotechnology and seed investment, and always an inspirational place for me to visit and to engage with.

Here's the main court at King's College, and the Mathematical Bridge at Queens, from the weekend.

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This visit had two purposes. The main one was to seek seed funding from a group of venture capitalists. I've been through good sessions and bad with funding pitches, and this one felt very positive. We hit our marks and worked well as a team, and the slides played well. They were interested, asked lots of good questions, were not intimidated by the funding amount, and promised to get back in touch with us once we answered a few detailed questions. 'Finger's crossed...

I was also asked to do a supervision of a student doing a Master's degree, and gave an introductory presentation to the class and met with potential candidates. About half the class showed up to talk, much more interest than I expected, and I've had a few good responses from people interested in working together.

For the record (and to give some idea of the traditions of the place), here's my class (I'm the distinguished ash-blond fellow center left) and my matriculation photo:

Class Picture Convocation

Still, the best moments was sitting in the college commons room in the evening with a book, a Guinness, some music, and the students drifting through to argue their ideas and share some time together.

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