17th October 2013 Ottawa, Canada

My Experience at the UKTI Global Graduate Entrepreneurs’ Festival

Courtesy of Lorne Grant
Courtesy of Lorne Grant

The following blog is by our guest blogger, Lorne Grant who recently won 1st place at the UKTI Global Graduate Entrepreneurs’ Festival . Lorne is the owner of the shipping service company, Latharn Ltd.

My Experience at the UKTI Global Graduate Entrepreneurs’ Festival in Manchester, UK
By Lorne Grant

On September 4th, I left Fort McMurray, AB for an opportunity to attend a 3 day festival sponsored by the UKTI in Manchester, UK, for students and recent graduates of Graduate Studies around the world. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime, gaining some solid friendship and experiences from the many speakers attending the event. It was something that I will never forget! One thing for sure, when I attended the event, I had no idea that our team would actually be awarded 1st place. There were some amazing presentations in the 3 days, and we were fortunate to be awarded the top prize.

The Global Graduate Entrepreneurs Festival (GGEF) event was a workshop combined with a Dragon’s Den style final competition. I actually stumbled upon the event via an email newsfeed from SFU Vancouver (where I recently completed my Graduate Studies in Business). I applied to the event with a business plan that I’m currently working on, which is a global ship brokering service specializing in trade between the UK and Canada called, “Latharn, Ltd”.

When my shipping concept was accepted by the UKTI and an invitation to attend was sent, I was really excited about the whole thing, and nervous. Immediately, I started networking online with various attendees and was fortunate to team up with an extremely eager and talented bunch of recent graduate students. All seven of us were from different countries and we gained a great friendship and business partnership from the event. The members were: Ashutosh Pathak from India, Francisco Gallardo Lopez from Spain, Oladapo Musa Giwa from Nigeria, Ali Khalid Alyami from Saudi Arabia, Thomas Akwesi Nkieta from Ghana, and Oladapo Musa Giwa from Nigera. Together, we formed the team, “Better Robotics”, and to date, we continue to discuss our winning project and trying to put it into development, with little to no capital at this point – but we’re hoping to change that!

Courtesy of Lorne Grant
Courtesy of Lorne Grant

The project which we developed during the event was the invention of a more efficient pipe inspection device, using advanced robotics combined with simply available technologies. One of our group members is actively working on a patent for the technology and he specializes in the robotics field. Not only was this a cool idea, but it was an extremely interesting project since I currently work for Canada’s largest Oil Sands Company, Suncor Energy. From my experience, pipe inspections are quite costly and challenging to conduct. Pipelines are both aging and expanding, globally. To come up with a better way of performing regular inspections, one that reduces any potential environmental risk, is something worth looking into, in my opinion.

We intend to continue with the Better Robotics group in the future, but I am currently focused on my new shipping service company, “Latharn, Ltd”. I have a two year start-up ahead of me, and attending the UKTI’s event has fuelled me with enough knowledge and confidence to make the move across the pond, leaving my secure job at Suncor and moving to the UK. I plan on taking my shipping concept to 15 countries across Europe, meeting with various business individuals and hopefully making the home base for my company in London, UK… provided, things work out!

I am very thankful for the British Council of Canada, the Science & Innovation Network and the UKTI team. Without their help and support with this event, I would not have been able to attend the GGEF which ended up changing my life, for the better. Hopefully the next time I write a blog entry it’s from London and I have an actual business that is economically beneficial for both the UK and Canada, two long-time trading partners!