Student entrepreneur to train with future world leaders

UCL student Zain Jaffer has been selected as one of the youngest of the future top 80 ‘world leaders’ to attend the graduate studies programme at Singularity University, which runs at NASA’s Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley.

Singularity University, a new initiative supported by NASA, Google and other leading Silicon Valley corporations, aims to educate future leaders to solve global problems using disruptive technologies such as robotics, nanotech, biotech and artificial intelligence.

The Singularity University lecturing staff is made up of Nobel Laureates and business leaders including Google co-founder Larry Page. The students will work together to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges and will participate in hands-on excursions to leading Silicon Valley labs and companies. As part of the trip the students can also take part in zero gravity flights.

Zain, 22, launched his first Internet company at the age of 15 when he remotely directed software engineers in the East to build websites for clients in the West. He soon learnt how to get the highest rankings in most search engines and quickly built up his own network of profitable websites. By 18, he had worked with Mozilla Firefox, and was ‘hand-picked’ by Google as one of their biggest advertising publishers to trial video adverts for MTV.

Today, he is a part-time student on the UCL MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship course (alongside running his own business).

He says: “I hope to use the programme as an opportunity to work with companies such as Google in order to further develop my plans to use emerging technologies to teach children around the world how to use a variety of software, with the ultimate aim of enabling them to generate their own income in the future. I am also looking to inspire entrepreneurial thinking in children so that one day they may consider starting a business of their own”.

UCL is funding £9000 of Zain’s expenses, with the remainder coming from corporate sponsors. Zain says this is evidence of UCL’s support for entrepreneurs. Dr Dave Chapman, UCL director of the programme, says: “Support for this programme reflects UCL’s intent to recognize, promote and celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of UCL’s most innovative and entrepreneurial academics and students. As a part-time student who also runs his own start-up business, Zain is passionate about harnessing new technologies to deliver social benefit. UCL’s MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship provides an ideal environment which enables him to refine and test business concepts in a supportive yet rigorous and critical environment where he is able to leverage the experience of an extensive network of entrepreneurs, academic staff and like-minded students.”

Salim Ismail, Executive Director of Singularity University, says: “An early education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is key to effectively addressing and solving humanity’s grand challenges – now and in the coming years. Zain’s history and plans for educating children in developing nations, as well as his strong entrepreneurial sense, made him an ideal candidate for Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Programme. We look forward to welcoming him to the programme, and to his accomplishments throughout the summer and in the future.”

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