Entrepreneurship at work

29 September 2014

How an IOP Entrepreneurship workshop supported the creation of a quantum technology security company.


Abdul Mirza was a PhD student in Quantum Technology in the School of Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, when the school’s research group, the Centre for Quantum Technology (CQT), asked Dr Mirza to create ideas and business plans for commercial ventures that could be formed based on their research. As an expert in his field, but with no entrepreneurship experience, Abdul Mirza signed up for the 2009 IOP Entrepreneurship Workshop in Cape Town, South Africa.

“The workshop offered me an ideal arena in which to analyse case studies of scientists who have successfully marketed their research, as well as the opportunity to network with them,” said Dr Mirza. “The fundamentals of writing a business plan were something that I immediately applied to our funding applications, while creating a quantitative analysis of business opportunities and of the related costs, assisted me after that stage in my interactions with accountants and investors.”

The following year Dr Mirza and his colleagues launched QZN Technology as the commercial face of the Centre for Quantum Technology, which focuses on communication security, also known as encryption.

Praising the workshop, the co-founder of QZN Technology said: “The IOP workshop has given me, and therefor QZN Technology, relevant first-hand information for business development through carefully chosen case studies. I would certainly recommend it to someone considering attending, as it will also offer them a great networking opportunity and a platform for mentorship by experience entrepreneurs.”

Recently, Abdul Mirza was listed as a one of the Guardian’s Inspirational South Africans, as well as being recognised at the CEO Communication’s annual Titans dinner in the sector of Academic Education and Training, receiving awards as both the South African and SADC Regional winner.

Due to the benefits they received from participating in the workshop Dr Mirza says of his company, “We are championing the take-up of the IOP’s entrepreneurship curriculum as an integral part of the training of postgrads at UKZN – we know first-hand what a difference it will make.”

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