In 2017, Dr Heidi Gardner got talking to a stranger in an airport. The stranger asked what she’d been doing that day, so she explained that she was a Scientist and had been in London for work. He chuckled and replied, “Oh, you don’t look like a scientist.” Heidi was confused and a little offended, but by the time she was back in Aberdeen she had the beginnings of an idea that aimed to shift the perception others had for what a scientist “should look like.”
A few weeks later, Science On A Postcard was open for business.
Dr Gardner, who holds an MSci in Pharmacology a PhD in Applied Health Sciences, was determined to take her new business to the next level. She applied for, and was accepted on, the inaugural RGU Creative Accelerator, a 12-week programme which was set up to support and fund start-up teams in Scotland in a range of creative industries.
“Before the Accelerator I was making sales, but I was running around like a headless chicken trying to keep on top of things,” Dr Gardner commented.
“My business has gained focus. Now the business feels more structured - I'm able to handle the sales I was making before, while also pushing forward with new creative ideas and avenues for business development.
“It's made me think about the sustainability of my business, it's boosted my confidence, and it's made me aware of the things I don't know whilst simultaneously teaching me where I can find resources and support to do the things I am not experienced in.
“The team at RGU has been open and honest with how much hard work goes into creating and sustaining business, but they managed to keep their message inspirational throughout - now I'm looking forward to the hard work rather than feeling terrified by it!”
The RGU Creative Accelerator provided training, mentorship and development opportunities, as well as a work space at the new Look Again project space in Aberdeen. The aim is to promote innovation in the local economy while retaining creative talent in the North-east.
“Just being a part of it has introduced me to a whole host of creative businesses, funding opportunities, and groups that are there to support cultural and creative activities across the north-east.
“Now that this cohort is coming to an end I'm excited for the exposition because it means we can show the public what we've been doing and what cool creative projects are happening on their doorstep.
“I'm delighted that this program is happening in Aberdeen specifically, I've lived here for almost a decade and shamefully had very little clue about where I could go to for help - whether it be funding, business advice and guidance, or simply a place to bounce creative ideas around with people that get it. Now I feel proud of the creative activities happening in and around the city, and I look forward to contributing to them in the months and years ahead.
Dr Gardner’s experience on the Creative Accelerator is coming to an end, but the tools, skills and knowledge she has gained from the programme will help her business to thrive in the future.
“The next few months are going to be incredibly busy with Christmas coming up, and I'm also taking Science On A Postcard to New Scientist Live in London in October - reportedly the Glastonbury of the science world.
“So in the immediate few months it's about continuing to implement structure so that I can balance everything, and then after Christmas I'll be looking at potential new product lines based on research I've done with my customer base. For now I'm not looking for investment, but I'm looking forward to seeing where the business is this time next year.”