Experiencing the AmSIA as a finalist

What is it like to participate in the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award? We spoke to Dr Monalisa Goswami about her participation in 2017. 

The Amsterdam Science and Innovation Award is “a celebration of innovation coming out from scientists,” says Monalisa. “It makes you feel special.” The Amsterdam Science and Innovation Award (AmSIA) is the Amsterdam competition for research-based innovative ideas that contribute to a better world. Every employee and student of the Amsterdam knowledge institutes can apply.

 Learning to pitch
When you have an innovative idea, you should be able to explain your idea in a couple compelling sentences. “As a scientist this is really difficult to do, because we are very used to thinking of our work in terms of equations, diagrams and plots”, explains Monalisa. “But the world doesn’t work that way.” That is why every finalist of the AmSIA receives a pitch training. “It’s incredible”, says Monalisa. “I use these tricks for my personal life if I need to convince someone of something.”

Receiving an audience
Monalisa “definitely recommends taking part” in the AmSIA, as it is very professionally organised. “The experience allows you to get an audience and publicise your work. If you are lucky, you will meet your potential investor or a subsidy consultant who is going to help get all kinds of subsidies for your project.”

Application process
To those who may be intimidated by the application process, she encourages to change their thinking. “Instead of taking the questions and trying to see whether your research fits, take your research and make the questions fit,” Monalisa advises. She describes the jury as really open and flexible in judging applications.

What is Dr Goswami doing now?
A year after her participation in the AmSIA, Monalisa launched her successful spin-off company Spark904. Even though Monalisa Goswami participated in the AmSIA with a different idea, the experience she gained as a finalist helped her making Spark904 into a success.

With Spark904, Dr Monalisa Goswami now provides research and development services for start-ups, SME’s or other companies that want to make use of the infrastructure and expertise available at the UvA Faculty of Science.