A Heriot-Watt University student has landed a dream ticket to China thanks to Santander Universities.
Simone Mattsson, who is in her fourth year of a Civil Engineering course, is one of only two UK-based students who have been specially selected for a scholarship to attend a summer school at the world renowned Beijing Institute of Technology later this month. It is the first time Santander Universities has offered this unique opportunity.
Over the course of three weeks, Simone will take part in an education programme entitled Green Car & Autonomous Vehicle 2018, where she will learn about the cutting edge technology behind unmanned vehicles.
This is an experience I could never have hoped for but now that it's here, I really can't wait to get started.
Companies around the world, both large and small, are attempting to harness the potential of driverless transport and it is a subject the 22-year-old knows only too well. She alongside business partner, Ken Brooksbank launched their business, ThermoDrone, last year with the assistance of £10,000 from the O2 Think Big grant.
Based in Dumfries and Galloway, the firm has a growing list of commercial clients in the central belt through its bespoke, environmentally friendly service. ThermoDrone uses a thermal imaging camera attached to an unmanned drone to measure heat loss in buildings from an aerial position. The clients can then take steps to improve energy efficiency, helping the environment and cutting overheads.
It was through this work and her studies at Heriot-Watt that Simone was selected by Santander Universities for the scholarship.
She explains: “It came as a complete surprise but one that I am absolutely thrilled about.
“I feel very lucky to have been selected for this opportunity and I'm grateful to Santander Universities. This is an experience I could never have hoped for but now that it's here, I really can't wait to get started.
“China is known for embracing technology and I know I'm going to learn a lot about autonomous vehicles and how this exciting technology will shape our future world.
“This experience is going to help greatly with my business as well as with my studies.”
The entrepreneur is bracing herself for a culture shock after admitting she has never travelled outside Europe before and is originally from a small town in Sweden called Östersund, where temperatures can plummet to minus 40 degrees.
Simone flies to China on Sunday, July 22, where she will stay until August 18.
Offering her congratulations, ahead of the trip, Dr Gillian Murray, Heriot-Watt's Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business, said: “This is such a tremendous opportunity which shows how life-changing the Santander funding can be for budding entrepreneurs. Through our partnership we're offering an environment that really encourages, and supports, students and staff to think out of the box and beyond borders.”
Heriot-Watt's Enterprise and Innovation Hub provides student and staff entrepreneurs with access to expert advice and guidance. Simone first turned to the Hub during the early stages of ThermoDrone and received a wide range of support as part of the Heriot Watt Global Entrepreneurial Journey, a unique programme tailored to rapidly scale new businesses though both expert support and global connections.
Santander Universities originated in Spain more than 20 years ago when the bank decided to invest in universities, eventually expanding into more than 20 countries.
To date, more than €1.5 billion has been donated in the shape of scholarships, mobility grants, support for entrepreneurship, special projects and non-academic awards.
Lindsey McArthur, University Relationship Manager for Santander Universities, said: “I'm delighted that Simone has accepted the place at the Beijing Institute of Technology this summer and confident it will be a great experience both in terms of the cultural experience, from an academic perspective and of course in support if her ambitions for her business going forward.
“Santander Universities is very pleased to help support Simone and I was glad to have the opportunity to meet her recently to hear first-hand how excited she was by the prospect of the trip to Beijing. I look forward to hearing an update later in the Summer and wish her well on her travels to China.”
Since 2016, Heriot-Watt and Santander have worked together to deliver unique learning experiences that provide students with the relevant insight and skills to help them prosper in today's changing world.
Earlier this month, Heriot-Watt was awarded £100,000 through Santander Universities' Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund, which was match funded by the University bringing the total to £200,000.
If you want to stay up to date with Simone's adventure then you can by following her Youtube channel where regular videos will be posted.