December 20, 2018, by Jake Stanley

An Entrepreneurial Extravaganza at #YES18

YES welcomed eight finalists to the Royal Society on Tuesday 11 December to present their business ideas to #ProtectOurPlanet in a bid to compete for the £16.5k prize fund.

All three competitions, Biotechnology YES, Engineering YES and Environment YES, are specifically designed to allow ECRs to develop commercialisation skills, raise career awareness and appreciate how their research can bring positive impact to society and the economy.

Professor Simon Mosey, University of Nottingham and Chair of YES, said:

“The 23rd year of YES was the most innovative yet with ideas ranging from dairy free milk to plastics made from food waste. A particular highlight was to welcome seven YES alumni onto the judging panel, making the final at the Royal Society an emotional and inspirational event.”

All three competitions, Biotechnology YES, Engineering YES and Environment YES, are specifically designed to allow ECRs to develop commercialisation skills, raise career awareness and appreciate how their research can bring positive impact to society and the economy.

The winners of Biotechnology YES were Phytocolours from the University of Leicester. Their company reduces pollution from the fashion industry by providing structurally coloured cellulose fibres from microalgae. Their product RayonbowTM is used in the manufacture of eco-sustainable textiles to produce fabric that never fades and doesn’t cost the earth.

CEO of Phytocolours Laura Delfino, also crowned best presenter, said:

“The YES competition has been an incredible opportunity to start developing our entrepreneurial skills. It was a great chance to network and we look forward to the BIA Gala Dinner in January to extend our connections even further. Stepping out of our scientific comfort zone has been challenging but extremely rewarding – winning was just the cherry on the cake! I would definitely recommend this experience to all postgraduates and postdocs!”

The winners of Engineering YES were LactoLab from the Universities of Durham, Liverpool and Newcastle. Their company aims to reduce non-degradable single-use plastic in labs by providing a compostable alternative using food industry by-products. Plastic is rendered chemically and biologically inert through a novel coating.

LactoLab, who were supported by the BBSRC’s Newcastle/Liverpool/Durham DTP, said: “Overcoming the challenge of being from separate universities really brought us together as a team, we have loved participating in YES and it has made us consider a career in business! We are so delighted to have won and will definitely be keeping in touch with our new friends from across
the country.”MooFree from the University of Reading won the Environment YES competition as well as the people’s choice award sponsored by Indigo. Their company uses genetically engineered yeast to produce dairy proteins. MooFree dairy proteins help businesses provide sustainable, ethical dairy proteins without having to compromise on taste and nutrition unlike any other options currently on the market.

“Taking part in YES18 was a fantastic experience and showed us what goes on behind the scenes when commercialising scientific ideas. The transferable skills and knowledge we have gained will be useful in our future careers and are something that we wouldn’t have been exposed to without this competition.”

– CMO of MooFree Andrew Goodall

There are many representatives from academia, business and industry who give up their time to act as speakers, mentors and judges for the competition. This year, there were 117 people from 70 organisations involved in supporting the competition, who donated a total of 700 hours of their time. Through significant commitment to the aims and objectives of the scheme, these
organisations recognise the importance of YES in providing the basis for the continuing success of the UK economy.

For more information about the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme and how to register for next year’s competition, head over to http://www.yescompetitions.co.uk/index.aspx.

Posted in CompetitionThe Haydn Green Institute