Chiraag Thakrar, Medical Graduate (graduated 2016)
Chiraag’s first real introduction to enterprise and entrepreneurship came when he took part in ‘The Innovative Medic’ module, during his second year, taught by Dr Sarah Underwood from the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies.
The module provided the foundations of what being enterprising was all about. Looking at social and commercial enterprises and thinking about how this can be applied to the medical industry.
The module culminated in a Dragon’s Den style competition with real entrepreneurs judging. I found the programme really interesting and something different to what I normally did on a day to day basis.
The Innovative Medic course at Leeds is very innovative in its delivery compared to most other universities. The two week intensive course offers medical students the chance to develop entrepreneurial skills and spot ways to improve on the current health service. As a result many students, off the back of this, go on to develop business ideas. This year, we also have a medical student taking the Year in Enterprise.
This module sparked an interest in Chiraag who then went on to generate his own business idea whilst continuing his studies at Leeds. He got in touch with SPARK: the University’s student business start-up service where he was assigned a mentor, told about all the opportunities available to him (workshops, boot camps, support and advice, competitions). Chiraag applied and received Proof of Concept funding as well as an Enterprise Scholarship.
“SPARK and the funding I received really helped to get things off the ground.”
Chiraag’s business is a stock management and price comparison platform for GP practices, with the potential to roll out to hospitals and other healthcare organisations. – “A Compare the Market but for medical supplies.”
“I have a prototype which we are trialling with a few GP practices at the moment and, based on feedback, we are going to develop something more robust. I’ve had a lot of interest from GP practices but also from dental practices.”
During his final year of medical school, Chiraag heard about and decided to apply to the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur programme: a new national programme made up of entrepreneurial individuals training with a medical background, who get together throughout the year to generate ideas and discuss their new innovations for the NHS.
“I got references from Dr Sarah Underwood and Brian Baillie (SPARK) and attended the interview in March 2016. The panel consisted of senior figures from the NHS and commercial world – it was quite intimidating!”
Chiraag was successful and is one of 104 entrepreneurs from across the country on the first cohort.
“We meet up at ‘pit stop’ events every month, we get training, CEOs of various companies act as our mentors, and I get to meet like-minded people. It’s like SPARK but on a national level – it’s really great!”
Chiraag is currently a Foundation Year 1 trainee so is working his way through various specialities.
“I am currently in anaesthetics, but next year I will be doing my GP training which is quite useful as I can show them what I have been doing with my business and hopefully get them on board!”
In his spare time, he works on his business and still maintains his contacts with the University through the use of the SPARK incubator as his business address, using this office space when in Leeds and keeping in touch with the other businesses housed there.
Without the introduction to enterprise and entrepreneurship, and the support received during his time at University, Chiraag believes he wouldn’t be running a business or be part of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur programme.
I would have just carried on with usual medical degree. However, through enterprise at Leeds, I have discovered all these other possibilities, it’s really exciting! Whatever direction my career takes me, I will always try to incorporate entrepreneurial aspects and innovation in medicine as it can have a real positive impact.