At RMIT University last month, four IMNIS mentees in Victoria’s MedTech-Pharma program left their comfort zone and pitched their research to a panel of outstanding industry leaders at the IMNIS Pitchfest!

Each mentee presented a well-developed “practice pitch” in front of industry experts who then provided constructive feedback and mentoring on how the pitch could be refined.

Leading up to this event, Pitch Mentor Dr Melanie Thomson, General Manager of Education, Skills and Events, MTPConnect, connected with mentees to provide advice and her top tips for pitching success. Mel is a prolific science communicator and pitch artist, having led multiple crowd-funding campaigns, participated in pitch events and mentored at national pitch competitions. Mel encouraged all students to think big and to consider all the potential applications their work could have and what it would take to get there.

IMNIS Pitch mentees and the expert panel of industry leaders (L>R): Leigh Farrell, Martin Elhay, Jenny Petering, Emma Ball, Melanie Thomson, Felix Kraus, Gabriela Constanza Martinez Ortiz, Luba Sominsky and Catriona Nguyen-Robertson [Image: IMNIS]

On the night, IMNIS mentees Gabriela Constanza Martinez Ortiz (La Trobe University), Felix Kraus (Monash University), Luba Sominsky (RMIT University) and Catriona Nguyen-Robertson (The University of Melbourne) overcame the “no slides” challenge to pitch their projects to four IMNIS mentors who are industry leaders in the STEM sector.

Dr Jenny Petering, Partner and Of Counsel at FB Rice, Dr Martin Elhay, Senior Business Development Manager, Life Sciences at The University of Melbourne, Dr Emma Ball, Director, Therapeutic Area Strategy and Business Development at CSL Limited and Dr Leigh Farrell, Vice-President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Certara generously donated their time on the expert panel.

With the goal of improving the pitch, each mentor challenged the mentees on the potential limitations of their project, the hurdles they would have to cross, the resources they would need and their planned timeline. Mentors went on to share invaluable advice on how mentees could hone the pitch further to ensure messaging around the need, the application and the potential impact were all clear.

Key recommendations centred on setting the scene at the start, developing clear milestones to mark progress, evaluating the associated costs, and considering the broader market, particularly competitors. Importantly, students also received positive feedback with mentors emphasising that compelling personal stories, thinking ahead and slowing down were all excellent pitch strategies.

Dr Jenny Petering is also an active member of the IMNIS Expert Advisory Panel and she said,

It is crucial for today’s young researchers to gain skills in pitching their projects. It is important for them to look beyond the next few years and consider the longer term impact and potential applications of their research, and what it will take to get there

Mentees in the audience said they learnt a great deal on the night by watching their peers pitch and listening to the suggestions and advice, they received. The night ended with all IMNIS mentors and mentees networking over wine and cheese.

Further Information

Learn more about the IMNIS initiative at our website www.imnis.org.au and/or email admin@imnis.org.au.