In our episode with Dr. Robert M. Learney, we discussed “New thinker vs risk adverse – How can they work together to develop great technology”. In this article you will find out a little more about Robert and his journey. He will also tell us his biggest lessons learnt and what he wishes more people knew.
Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now
I began my career in 2003 as a medical doctor working in the NHS. I really enjoyed learning everything at University and thoroughly committed to my first few years. But I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. However, it took me many years to make the decision to leave and forge my own path. I always wanted to ‘invent things’ and make a difference on a larger scale. So in late 2009 I returned to university to study a MSc in Biomedical Engineering. This was followed by some time trying to start my own business, and learning a lot along the way. I was fortunate enough to then win funding from the Dyson Foundation to undertake a PhD. It was during this time that Bitcoin was first emerging onto the world stage.
I started reading about this invention and everything I could learn about it, and the whole field just made complete sense to me. But here I felt I could actually try to make a difference. As a result, I co-founded a research centre at Imperial College with a Professor in Computing and a colleague from the Business school. After a couple of years of monitoring emerging projects in this space, I made the move to Digital Catapult where I could try to have a more widespread impact on the adoption of these technologies in the UK.
Why is your business relevant to the issues within the technologies sector?
Digital Catapult is a truly great place to be working on these types of cutting edge digital technologies. We have the opportunity to neutrally observe and try to gently guide where industry should be heading through deep exploration and experimentation. We currently have a broad range of projects underway in DLT. This ranges from exploring the circular economy, nuclear waste management, airspace routing, to improving the trust in your sandwich. All of these are consortium efforts. They are fundamental for anything involving distributed systems or DLT.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from working at Digital Catapult?
The world needs bridge builders. These are people who can understand the gaps between different specialisms. As well as this, they can bring parties together to build a better shared future. Working at Digital Catapult allows us to connect with academia, traditional industry, exciting and risky start-ups, government and investors. All of these contribute to the success or failure of advanced digital technologies and innovations. Our neutral position allows us to help them discover and work side-by-side.
What do you wish more people knew?
In general, I wish more people knew how money works, and how the economy works. Furthermore, I wish people know how it’s mostly all stuff that humans invented rather than deep unchanging universal truths. We made the rules and we can change them.
Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?
As someone who helped out.
About the speaker
Dr. Robert M. Learney is a technology enthusiast and qualified doctor who studied medicine at Oxford University and Imperial College. He later left the NHS to return to research and completed a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College, funded by the James Dyson Fellowship.
In 2014, Robert co-founded the Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, to create a cross-disciplinary academic focal point for blockchain research in London. He has worked in this sector ever since.
As the Lead Technologist in Blockchain & DLT at Digital Catapult, he manages a team engaged in multiple collaborative projects aiming to improve the UK’s economic position through the appropriate use of this technology. These span aerospace, FMCG, food & drink, oil & gas, the nuclear industry, and construction.
He is also a recognised international speaker on the transformative potential and uptake of blockchain technology.
Liked this article “New thinker vs Risk Adverse“? Why not read “The scaling power of a Tech Collective”?