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School of Business and Management

Marcos Souto Ulloa (Entrepreneurship and Innovation MSc, 2020)

Marcos Souto Ulloa, graduated with an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and recently won a Young Innovator’s Award for developing a revolutionary material made from seaweed aimed at preventing plastic seeping into the world’s oceans. The Young Innovator’s Award recognises young people from across the UK who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation.

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Why did you choose to study an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Queen Mary?

The truth is entrepreneurship and innovation have a lot to do with resources, environments and determination. My wife and I knew London and Queen Mary would provide the first two, but the last one would depend on us, and we were willing to take the risk.

What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?

I especially enjoyed being part of a group of like-minded people trying to solve world problems. I was surprised by the involvement of Queen Mary in the Hult Prize competitions. We managed to get to the top 30 finalists among 300,000 competitors, representing Queen Mary in what is considered the entrepreneurship Nobel Prize for students.

Can you describe your career path to date and any current projects you’re working on?

In the last five years, I have been working cross-culturally in leadership positions in the UK, USA, Argentina and Mexico. Throughout my career, I have travelled through 27 countries and have worked with entrepreneurs and companies developing new digital products in vertical farming, fintech and renewable energy start-ups.

Think of London as part of your campus and do everything that you can to get the most out of it. Get into events, organise meetings, connect with other students, apply to grants, to investors, to accelerators, etc. If you only go to your classes, you will not have fully understood the concept of entrepreneurship.

You recently gained media attention after creating a new material made from seaweed that could help clean up our oceans. Can you tell us more about the material, your plans for its use and your involvement in its development?

My wife and I are working with independent researchers on a seaweed plastic (Sweed) which has several advantages when compared with what is out there in the market. In the first place, seaweed is one of the most efficient organisms capturing CO2, it does not use freshwater or fertilizers, and it uses no land. Seaweed farms are not only sustainably growing seaweed but in fact, are helping to clean the ocean from acidification. In the second place, our plastic will be ocean degradable and compostable. The combination of these two characteristics makes it much better than fossil fuel plastics and traditional bioplastics made out of resources that require land, pesticides and fertilizers.

What motivates you as an entrepreneur and what would you like to see change in the world?

My motivation has always been around problems and good solutions. I have always been obsessed with finding great solutions to big problems, such as renewable energy to CO2 emissions. A change in the world I would like to see is the weight we give to environmental problems. It is only by educating people on the enormity of our environmental problems that we will give a place to worldwide profitability in sustainable solutions.

How did your time and study at Queen Mary nurture your entrepreneurial skills?

Queen Mary was a door of opportunities and it was there for us to take them. What I loved the most, was how approachable our professors were when dealing with a new project. During my master's, I learned to take the right steps, tell people my story, and show them how they could help me. I believe this is crucial when starting something and a comfortable academic environment such as Queen Mary provided me with that.

You’ve travelled to 27 countries and have lived and worked in 4 of them. What do you think makes London unique and what did you enjoy most about studying in the UK’s capital city?

London is one of the capitals of the world located next to the European ecosystem. Investors, entrepreneurs and innovators from all over the planet step into this city. If you combine this "centre of the world" with London: history, people, culture and financial power, then you understand the magnitude of how unique London is. What I enjoyed the most were the possibilities that came with how international everything is. Investors, grants, loans, are all around for you to take and build something with.

What is the most exciting thing about what you do?

The thing I love the most is telling people about what we are doing with seaweed and seeing in their eyes how they would love to help. I believe to work with something that generates that kind of excitement, is the best thing ever.

What was special about your time at Queen Mary? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments?

For me, it was getting into the entrepreneurship community in London. I remember it was when we were setting up the QM Social Venture Fund with Joanne Zhang, that I started understanding how entrepreneurship societies worked in different universities in London. It was during this time that I realised the importance of universities in the UK’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Were there any academics that had a strong influence on shaping your time and studies at Queen Mary?

Stefan Krummaker and Joanne Zhang were both great influencers in my leadership and innovation development during my time at Queen Mary. I enjoyed having them as professors.

Is there any advice you would give to those considering studying an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Queen Mary?

Think of London as part of your campus and do everything that you can to get the most out of it. Get into events, organise meetings, connect with other students, apply to grants, to investors, to accelerators, etc. If you only go to your classes, you will not have fully understood the concept of entrepreneurship.

If you would like to share your story in an alumni profile, please contact Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey at n.grey@qmul.ac.uk.