June 22, 2016, by The Ingenuity Lab

Victory at Engineering YES

University of Nottingham Engineering PhD students win tough national entrepreneurial competition for researchers 

Last week, a team of six engineering PhD researchers from the University of Nottingham beat off strong competition to win the eight national final of Engineering YES, held at Faraday Wharf on the Innovation Birmingham Campus.

So what is Engineering YES?

The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) aims to raise awareness of the commercialisation of ideas amongst researchers registered at UK universities. The YES model provides a learning experience to enable researchers to:

  • understand the issues involved in the commercialisation of science
  • gain an insight into the challenges faced by companies
  • obtain transferrable skills such as commercial awareness, entrepreneurship and communication skills

Over the past two decades, strong partnerships have been formed between the co-organisers at The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

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Engineering YES is a 3-day residential training experience for research students and staff that introduces participants to what is involved in setting up a technology start-up. It is a great learning opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and researchers who want to gain extra employability skills and stand out from the crowd.

This year, six teams of post-graduate engineering researchers from universities across the UK reached the final and presented their business plans to a panel of judges, including senior executives from Rolls-Royce, Potter Clarkson, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Natural Environment Research Council.

In the past 20 years, YES has contributed to an economic impact through salaries alone of over £1.8 billion.  The ideas, innovation and entrepreneurial activity of past participants will generate even greater impact.

Well done, Sygnocare!

The University of Nottingham’s team pitch was all about commercialising a cot death reducing domestic baby heart rate monitor using green light technology. After coming an impressive second place in their heats in May, Sygnocare quickly became the front runner for the competition. The other teams who made it to the final included representatives from Loughborough, Manchester, Bath and Birmingham Universities – all of whom won their respective heats earlier on in the competition.

Team Sygnocare from the University of Nottingham, sygnocare, nottingham entrepreneurs, university of nottingham alumni, nottingham university alumni, nottingham researchers, phd nottingham

Team Sygnocare from the University of Nottingham with Matt Price from Rolls-Royce (on the left) and David Scott from Loughborough Beacon Rotary (on the right)

Team Sygnocare is made up of University of Nottingham PhD students drawn from different stages of their PhD as well as different research groups across the Engineering Faculty: Jessica Butterworth (Biomedical Materials, Mid-Infrared Glasses Group); Olufisayo Olanrewaju (Power Electronics, Machines and Control Group); Menghao Chen (Biocomposites Group); Yang Zhang (Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre); Oriol Gavalda Diaz (Manuf. Engineering Rolls-Royce UTC, Manufacturing and On-Wing Technology) and Enabulele Courage Ogbebor (Power Electronics, Machines & Control Group).  They said,

“Engineering YES was a wonderful experience, and winning was just the icing on the cake. We had great support from various mentors during the heat and from the University of Nottingham staff. The lessons we have learnt together are invaluable to our future careers. We didn’t know each other two months ago, but now we can very confidently say that we are true team mates and friends. This will become one of our best memories and we will cherish it for a long, long time”.

Sygnocare scooped the £2,000 first prize sponsored by Rolls-Royce, the Engineering YES 2016 Trophy and £500 from Potter Clarkson for the best use of intellectual property on top of the £100 Elevator Pitch prize they were awarded during the heats.

Final round judge, Matt Price of Rolls-Royce said,

Innovation is the lifeblood of Engineering companies such as Rolls-Royce, and successful innovation requires more than just a great idea. Being able to see an idea through the eyes of our customers and create a convincing plan that transforms an idea into reality are essential ingredients for innovation to thrive. Innovation also needs energy, commitment and great teamwork – all of which were in abundance in the finalists”.

Excellence and entrepreneurship at the University of Nottingham

Professor Sarah Sharples, Sarah Sharples, University of Nottingham Associate Vice-Chancellor, Associate Vice-Chancellor Sarah Sharple, Engineering YES

Professor Sarah Sharples

This has been an incredibly successful year so far for the University of Nottingham in terms of YES competitions, and entrepreneurship more generally.

Professor Sarah Sharples – Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham
– said,

“We are extremely proud of the success of this team, drawn from a number of research groups from across the Faculty of Engineering. I’d like to offer the team our warmest congratulations on this tremendous success, demonstrating their excellence in engineering, innovation and entrepreneurship”.

Alongside winning Engineering YES, 2016 has seen the University of Nottingham win the Biotech YES competition – highlighting the innovative, entrepreneurial capabilities the university is developing with their researchers. The skills and attributes can be immediately applied to their current research and beyond, whether that be increased industrial and business awareness, stimulated creative and innovative spirit, enlightened understanding regarding avenues for research impact, enhanced cross team collaboration skills or augmented employability.

We look forward to seeing the success of the entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Nottingham continuing well into the future.

To find out more about Engineering YES, please visit their website.

If you have a business idea that you would like to develop into a reality, make sure you register your interest in Ingenuity17 here.

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