“I now know that you can do so much more with a PhD!”

PhD candidate Rawad Makhoul was acquiring a lot of technical knowledge from his research, but he was looking for something to compliment that. He’s found that the EIT InnoEnergy courses offer the entrepreneurship and business skills that he will need to turn his ideas into an actual product.

Why did you choose the EIT InnoEnergy PhD School?

My lab at CEA suggested the program as complimentary training for my PhD. They saw this as an opportunity to build connections around my research. I, on the other hand, was motivated by the unique blend of entrepreneurship and innovation management in the programme. The fact that I was going to learn how to turn my research into a marketable product was really exciting!

What are the most important things you have learnt so far?

Before the program, I had this wrongful idea of a traditional company that should be closed if it’s not making a profit right away. I now have a more global idea about starting a company, the risks that come with it and the mistakes that shouldn’t be made. I also learned that making money out of research could be done through licensing and selling patents, not only through selling a physical product.

Any highlights?

This is really hard to answer. I am not sure whether it is my 6-month mobility to Stanford University in California or the 2-week entrepreneurship course at ESADE Business School in Barcelona or the interesting people I meet in every part of this adventure!

How would you describe the EIT InnoEnergy PhD School to a prospective student?

The EIT InnoEnergy PhD School is a complimentary training for students with entrepreneurial mindsets. It is a unique experience, where talented PhD candidates in the energy field meet and share cutting-edge ideas and discussions about company strategy, risk management and other start-up related topics. This is the right program if you want to spend some time abroad working on your PhD topic in an international environment – or if you want to start your own company.

How do you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

Business and entrepreneurship are everywhere! From the entrepreneurship course at ESADE Business School in Barcelona to the Energy Economics course at Grenoble School of Management, going through the IP law at Uppsala University in Sweden. Participants in the EIT InnoEnergy PhD school are given the entrepreneurship knowledge they need to launch their start-up. And there is an excellent connection to industry since multinationals and start-ups often take part in EIT InnoEnergy events.

How well do the courses fit into your regular PhD studies? What comes next?

I see EIT InnoEnergy courses as a complimentary training to my research. In my research, I acquire technical knowledge while EIT InnoEnergy courses offer entrepreneurship and business skills. I am still not sure about what to do in the future. Before starting the program, I thought the only two options were academic research or industrial research. I now know that you can do so much more with a PhD!

Anything you’d like to share about the programme or your fellow students?

My fellow students are very interesting open-minded, smart people. Each one has his or her unique experience, but we share the common goal of achieving a sustainable energy supply for a sustainable future. This allows for tons of cutting-edge ideas to emerge whenever we meet. I also love the fact that, just like me, they are going through a PhD program so we can share all the fun (and not so fun) stories that come along with a PhD!