Case Studies

Trinity Hall alumni don’t always follow traditional career paths when they graduate. Some carve out their own course by building businesses or projects to create change or supply a market need. Here are just a few examples.

Ratio Technology

A winner of the Lee-Yung Family Prize for Entrepreneurship 2019, Felix Barker (Trinity Hall MEng, 2013-2018) founded Ratio Technology the year before with St Catharine’s graduate Tom Simpson. Their focus is the development of a patent-pending design of bicycle chain, destined to be more efficient, quieter and longer-lasting than existing chains all while offering the user sixteen separate speeds. This means that the Ratio drivetrain will have the range to tackle steep off-road climbs and the precision to fine-tune gear selection on the road, representing the first substantial change to the bicycle chain since its conception in 1895.

They’ve taken the design from concept through Additive Manufactured prototypes to their current full-functionality rideable version – while tackling the challenges and pitfalls of running their first startup. At the same time, close attention to manufacturing requirements has seen them partner with a number of UK businesses and manufacturers in preparation for taking the chain to production.

The past year has seen a whole new generation of cyclists take to the roads and trails for sustainable transport, exercise and pleasure. Felix says, “we’re looking forward to seeing where our chain will take them.”

Felix and colleagues testing the advanced design of the bicycle chains developed by Ratio Technology

Catriona McGill

I am a recent Trinity Hall Engineering alumna (MEng, 2010-2014) and currently head up technology development at Desolenator, a clean-technology start-up, looking at solar-powered desalination & water purification. We aim to provide drinking water in off-grid locations, and to minimise the carbon footprint associated with desalination. Within Desolenator I manage the R&D process, essentially taking the idea from concept to sell-able product. This is the closest thing to my dream job. A typical month can see me pitching to investors, in meetings with governments, reviewing maths calculations and doing manual labour on our test site. I love it! My current focus is on managing our first external pilot project: installing our units in a primary school in an extremely remote part of Northern Kenya, to provide clean drinking water for the students and teachers there.

As a student, I had no concept of what a start-up was. I didn’t know anyone working in start-ups and I didn’t know how to talk to anyone working in one. The Entrepreneurs Network has the potential to mitigate this, and I hope current Trinity Hall students make the most of the platform!

Catriona demonstrating solar panels
Catriona demonstrating solar panels

GenPol

GenPol – Gender & Policy Insights is a think tank consultancy and a social enterprise. It advocates for gender equality, researches gender issues, and uses research findings to enable others to understand gender dynamics and find gender-sensitive solutions to their problems.

GenPol’s cofounder and CEO, Dr Lilia Giugni, graduated at Trinity Hall in 2017, after completing a PhD in Politics, and is now a researcher at the Cambridge Judge Business School. Several Trinity Hall alumnae and research students are involved, too, in GenPol’s activities. These include Ellen Davis-Walker (co-founder and Chief Communication Officer), Pauline Kiesow (co-founder), Lily Rosengard (Business Development Officer) and current research interns Ciara Taylor and Stella Rhodes.

GenPol publishes reports, policy papers and research briefs, and organises events and training, to raise awareness on gender issues and mainstream equality and diversity concerns across different sectors. It also helps a wide-range of clients and stakeholders develop gender-aware policies.

GenPol launch event
GenPol launch event

Blutick

Rob Percival (1999) is the founder and CEO of Blutick, an AI-based Maths teaching product which gives students intelligent feedback as they work through problems. Blutick is designed to help 11 to 16 year olds with the UK Maths Curriculum.

Rob was a Maths teacher for ten years, and is also the founder of Codestars, which has taught 1.5 million students how to code. He lives with his wife and two boys in Cambridge.

Blutick website screengrab
Blutick website screengrab

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