December 9, 2016, by Elizabeth Smith
The Young Entrepreneur Scheme Finals 2016
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge”
– Michael Bloomberg
Now into its 21st year, the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) provides an opportunity for early career researchers to gain an insight into the commercialisation of science, through the preparation of plans for a hypothetical company.
At the beginning of the competition, teams attend one of five three-day workshops held across the UK where they gain first-hand insights into a range of aspects of business, including financial planning commercial and marketing strategies, and intellectual property and patenting strategy.
After being whittled down from 349 participants and 80 teams, Monday saw 14 finalists from Biotechnology YES and Environment YES – as well as the winners of Singapore YES, Epitome – descend on The Royal Society, to showcase their business ideas and get closer to the £7,500 prize fund.
Our very own Professor Simon Mosey chaired the judging panel, which featured representatives from BEIS, GSK, P&G, Syngenta and Unilever. Each team had 5 minutes to present their idea, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the board of judges.
After introducing YES as the highlight of his year, Simon introduced the first of the finalist teams to pitch. Six hours, and a lot of inspiring presentations later, it was time for everyone to have a glass of bubbly while the judges and audience cast their vote.
The awards were announced later in the evening, with BeEco Biosciences, from the Babraham Institute who are affiliated to the University of Cambridge, crowned Biotechnology YES winner and Cutico, University of Sheffield, winning the Environment YES competition.
“YES is an amazing opportunity for early career researchers to learn business skills that we wouldn’t necessarily get to learn as part of our research training. It’s been a huge challenge to learn about Intellectual Property, fundraising and business planning, but the support we’ve had from The University of Sheffield and NERC has been great.”
– Matt Wilson (Marketing Director, Cutico, University of Sheffield)
Other awards included:
- Best healthcare business plan sponsored by GSK. Won by ISO Dose (University of Manchester)
- Best consideration of financial planning strategy sponsored by James Cowper Kreston. Won by Essence (Durham University)
- Best plant, microbial and environmental business plan sponsored by Syngenta. Won by Cutico (University of Sheffield)
- Best consideration of IP strategy sponsored by Potter Clarkson won by Symbioma (Queen Mary University of London)
- Best sustainable innovation sponsored by Unilever won by PhytoSystems (University of Warwick)
- People’s choice award sponsored by The Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship won by ISO Dose (University of Manchester)
- Best presenter award sponsored by The Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship won by Dr Fong Ming Koh, of Epitome (A*STAR) from the winning team of 2016 Singapore YES
“The 21st YES final was the most exciting yet. I loved the diversity of ideas and how, despite it being a competition, the participants all supported each other throughout the day.
This was reinforced by The People’s Choice Award, where the audience voted overwhelmingly for a new method of controlling the dosage of importance drugs so patients no longer have to worry about it.
The HGI are proud to sponsor The People’s Choice Award and look forward to another year of innovation for YES. We are hoping to take the competition to Africa to support sustainable entrepreneurship for better health, food and cleaner water.”
– Professor Simon Mosey (Director, The Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
The competition receives financial support from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), GSK, Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), P&G, Syngenta, Unilever and University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI).
Many representatives from business and industry give up their time to act as speakers, mentors and judges. This year, there were over 200 people from 79 organisations involved in supporting the competition, who donated a total of 1321 hours of their time. Through significant commitment to the scheme, these organisations recognise the importance of YES in providing the basis for the continuing success of the biosciences and environmental sector in the UK.
We think YES is a fantastic way for scientists in higher education to explore their entrepreneurial potential!