Alexey Youssef is a Ukrainian and Syrian ex-doctor, healthcare innovator and tech entrepreneur who specialises in Healthcare, Artificial Intelligence, and Biotechnology. He received the Tech Nation Visa in 2019. Here, he tells us about his experience of coming to the UK.
“I chose to come to the UK for a multitude of reasons. The UK is home to the leading academic institutions globally, which enables proximity to centres of cutting edge academic research and innovation, and it also supports the translation of innovations from the academic institutions to the market with support funds like Innovate UK and Oxford Science Innovations. Not only is there great access to affordable top-tier talent and a great access to capital, but the NHS and the centralised healthcare system means that the UK has the most extensive longitudinal health record which is a great resource for my chosen field – clinical Artificial Intelligence innovations.
Since coming to the UK my experience with the tech scene here has been incredible. I had the opportunity to work on an entrepreneurial venture with Entrepreneur First (The top Deep Tech incubator in Europe). With EF I worked on an entrepreneurial idea to globalise healthcare through medical travel, and my work was features in the IMTJ journal. The UK tech scene is a buzzing international ecosystem with great innovation potential and a mix of interdisciplinary skill sets and expertise.
I like many things about working and living in the UK. Of course there is the long standing history and heritage – but there is a strong work ethic and culture here, as well as a commitment towards supporting wellbeing and work-life balance. The people here are committed to supporting diversity, inclusion, and equality and I have access to large innovation hubs such as the Golden Triangle.
Being recognised by Tech Nation was amazing because it enabled me to be a part of a community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the UK with whom I can exchange ideas, expertise and connections. The freedom of the visa means I can work and establish my entrepreneurial venture in the UK. Receiving the visa has allowed me to get on track to receive ILR and citizenship in the future, while also being a role model to encourage applicants from similar backgrounds to apply for Tech Nation endorsement and establish their entrepreneurial ventures in the UK.
Since being granted the endorsement, I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved. I started an Engineering DPhil in Clinical Artificial Intelligence at the University of Oxford. As part of my DPhil I am working on the national COVID-19 response with the Alan Turing Institute through the DeCOVID initiative. I have also received funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering to support my work on open-source Health Informatics for Arabic speakers.
I started a health informatics company to support the rollout of Electronic Health Records in the Middle East (Next Med Tech Ltd.). The company recently won a (£0.4mn) contract with the World Health Organisation. I have had the opportunity to work on the translation of university and academic innovations – I worked with Oxford University Innovations to commercialise their university IP.
I cofounded a university (currently in advisory capacity) spinout that has been awarded funding from Oxford Science Innovation fund. The spinout is commercialising cutting edge computer vision algorithms for Laser Scanning Microscopy.
I also cofounded a biotechnology company (Genbiotics Ltd) with two colleagues from Oxford. We’re engineering bacteria to create therapeutic platforms that we can use to treat respiratory diseases. We’ve secured free laboratory space at the Slovak National Institute of Virology and set up our experimental lab there. We have also built a laboratory prototype of our bacteria. Currently, we are planning to raise a pre-seed round to power our proof-of-concept building for respiratory diseases.
One of my proudest achievements is being selected as the first Syrian Rhodes Scholar. The Rhodes Scholarship is a great opportunity to receive top-tier education at the University of Oxford and be embedded within a global network of future change makers.
The Tech Nation visa is an amazing opportunity to come to the UK and build globally important businesses in the country. Among other things, the Tech Nation Visa Alumni organise events that are great opportunities to connect with other visa alumni and exchange ideas and expertise. Since the pandemic, we have made the effort to connect with each other virtually through Zoom or other methods of communication.
For anyone thinking of applying, my advice would be to focus on the skills and expertise that would enable you to create significant contributions to the digital technology and entrepreneurship sector in the UK”.
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