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Young entrepreneur’s training simulator for the doctors and dentists of the future

Image of James Markey

An Open University alumnus and his fledgling business is going for glory – and a share of £90,000 – in this year’s Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme.

With each of Santander’s university partners choosing just one student business to represent them in this accelerator programme and pitching competition, the OU reviewed dozens of fantastic business ideas, initiatives and start-ups. Its choice was the OU Student Entrepreneurship Competition winner James Markey from Kingston upon Thames, an Open Degree alumnus who studied business modules primarily.

James’ start-up known as Universal Simulation has already received a grant from Santander Universities, via the OU. This is allowing the business to develop its prototype Universal Simulator and start providing demonstrations to universities. It ultimately hopes to revolutionise university education through high-quality haptic (touch feedback) and VR (virtual reality) simulations that work on an affordable and universal haptic VR simulator – see James’ introductory pitch for Universal Simulation here.

We have an opportunity to revolutionise university education and we will definitely be heading in the right direction to do just that through the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme. If we’re successful here, we plan to use the funding to employ developers to create new VR and haptic simulations for fields such as local anaesthetic, surgery and much more. As well as this, we’re creating an online platform for data analysis to provide standardised training and feedback for universities in the future, as the simulations become more widely used in training institutions across the world

James Markey, OU alumnus and Founder of Universal Simulation

It is predicted the Universal Simulator will reduce typical university investments in haptics and VR by more than 80% through shared simulation suites to help integrate technology into their curriculums for dentistry, surgery and local anaesthetic topics. This could also be used for engineering, aviation training and much more in the future.

Universal Simulation’s training software in dentistry, surgery and local anaesthetic will be distributed through Healthcare Haptics, alongside the Universal Simulator, to dental and medical universities. Two corporate partners, Virteasy Dental and Kobra Simulator, have already signed-up to distribute their software and high-fidelity simulators through Healthcare Haptics, working with universities to fulfil their requirements and create mixed simulation suites on any type of budget.

The Open University is very proud to have selected James’ start-up as our submission to the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme. Congratulations to him and I’m excited to offer support as he develops Universal Simulation over the summer.

Robert Wilson, Manager, Student Opportunities, The Graduate School

The Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. The programme is providing dedicated support for student and graduate start-ups across Santander’s partner universities. The aim is to support entrepreneurs on their business journey, providing information and networks to grow and scale the business.

Universal Simulation is one of the 80 selected start-ups to be part of a five-month accelerator programme which will help them prepare and build. Live webinars, panel discussions and workshops will all be delivered virtually before the entrepreneurs pitch their business for a share of the £90,000 at the end of September in semi-finals and a grand final.

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