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Bruce Dickinson gives keynote speech at Queen Mary innovation showcase

Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of legendary rock group Iron Maiden, took to the stage of the Great Hall at Queen Mary, University of London on Tuesday 20 November. Dr Dickinson, who is a QM History alumnus, rock star, airline pilot and aviation business owner, was key note speaker at an event featuring entrepreneurs who studied or worked at the university.

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Bruce Dickinson talks at the Innovation Forum
Bruce Dickinson talks at the Innovation Forum

Dickinson’s keynote speech focused on what it means to be an entrepreneur, from his first forays into business at 12-years-old with a ‘rent a pencil’ scheme at school. He advised guests at the Innovation Forum that to be a success they will have to show great determination and energy, sacrifice sleep and always remember why they started their own business in the first place.

While “most things have already been discovered”, Dickinson told budding entrepreneurs to look at things from a different angle: “What an entrepreneur sees is opportunities and the world in a different way. Most things in the world have been discovered, but an entrepreneur will see an opportunity and how to look at things from a different direction.”

“Business is really about building and facilitating relationships; Remember that without the customer, your invention or idea is nonsense. You also need to know your limitations and what you can and can’t do, take time to pick the right partners and to trust them.”

Dickinson, whose father was a used car salesman and an engineer, advised guests to “look at the bigger picture” and get back up again after taking knocks.  He also touched on the issue of illegal downloads, commenting that the music industry is “crying into its beer”. With music inevitably becoming a free commodity, he noted that there continues to be a demand for merchandise.

The Innovation Forum at the People’s Palace - part of the university’s Mile End campus - featured a panel of entrepreneurs, including several Queen Mary alumni who have achieved success in a range of entrepreneurial endeavours. The forum was chaired by Sally Taylor, Executive Director of The Cultural Capital Exchange and Director of Knowledge Exchange for Creativeworks London.

Dr Stuart Battersby, who holds a PhD in Human Interaction from QM, is creator of Chatterbox, a software package that analyses conversation data between people on social media, and then uses this information to help businesses connect with their consumers. Chatterbox is backed by Queen Mary Innovation (QMI) and telecommunication giant Telefonica’s Wayra accelerator scheme, which supports new businesses by offering advice and training.

Other speakers included Athena Mandis, lecturer at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, award-winning documentary maker and co-founder of Mile End Films. Mile End Films is Queen Mary’s in-house production company and was set up in 2009 through funding received from QM. It offers current students and graduates the opportunity to work on film projects, further their training and build a portfolio.

Also speaking at the event was Alex Mann, Clinical Project Director and Senior Virologist at Retroscreen Virology Ltd, a Queen Mary spin-out company which offers a broad spectrum of niche virology testing services. A graduate from MSc Medical Biology at QM, Mann discussed the development of Retroscreen from small start up to its recent flotation on the stock market.

Following the event, other entrepreneurs showcased their businesses and inventions, many of which have received funding and support from Queen Mary Innovation. Those in attendance found out about the full range of new schemes available from QMI. 

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