We spoke to Archie Macpherson, a 4th year student at Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies who received sponsorship to attend the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy (VEA) based in Texas, USA during the summer of 2021. We sought to find out about his experience as the first UK student to access this opportunity, how the University of Edinburgh and the DDE programme is fostering his entrepreneurial side, and the ambassadorial role he’ll play in future.
I started vet school because I’m interested in science, I like working with animals and I love helping people. But being a clinician wasn’t my only goal. I was out lambing in the middle of nowhere when I saw an email about the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy (VEA). I immediately knew it was the kind of opportunity I’d been looking for. After several interviews, I was lucky enough to be offered the position.
The technology, cryoablation, has been used successfully in human medicine for a while, but it's very expensive, limited, and not particularly portable. Kubanda Cryotherapy’s innovation will make this treatment cheaper and more widely accessible, first for vets and then, potentially, the human market.
I always had an entrepreneurial urge. I enjoy having to pivot when I hit a failure and the way it pushes you to innovate. Now I believe it's not just okay to fail, but actively good. I spent my young teens travelling Europe, busking with a friend. We realised we could make money out of a skill and a hobby, so we went to town with it. Ever since, I wanted to do something for myself.
The veterinary industry is lagging behind when it comes to innovation, but the pull of technological advances is getting stronger – and data has a lot to do with that. Being able to show how much more productive and efficient a practice could be with the appropriate new technologies will drive change in the sector.
Keep your eyes open and don’t follow the crowd. If you’re able to think outside the prescribed route for your studies or speciality, you’ll quickly find there are people who have followed alternative routes. If you're thinking, "I want to have an insight into the business world of veterinary," the best thing to do is find someone who's already done it - and go talk to them.
I've got the closing event for VEA, 15th of August, hopefully out in New York City. I will also be working with Lawrence Brown to set up a way of nurturing veterinary entrepreneurism at Easter Bush, one of the DDE Innovation Hubs where he is Innovation Manager, and to be a student ambassador and together with Lawrence educate and advise students about entrepreneurship. We’re hoping that this will make vet students more aware of the DDE programme and build an entrepreneurial culture so we can try and get a student on the VEA programme every year.
Want to learn more about the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy, click below to head to their website.