University of Nottingham
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Get under the hood and learn how to commercialise science

Andrew Goodall was a member of MooFree, the 2018 Environment YES winning team from the University of Reading. Their idea used core science in fermenting with yeast to create dairy proteins without the need for cows.

At the time, Andrew was a postdoctoral researcher funded by BBSRC. He is now employed as
Technical Support Specialist at Oxford Nanopore.

MooFree

From left to right: Esmie Wescott, Andrew Goodall and Simona Grasso

 
 

From plant nutrition to DNA sequencing

Andrew studied for his PhD at the University of St. Andrews where he looked at barley plants and how they metabolise nitrogen. Andrew was working out how to control the amount of protein that goes into the grain. Applications for making varieties that have higher protein include feeding livestock, reducing the need for protein supplements.  Andrew’s postdoctoral research at the University of Reading continued to look at plant nutrition and in particular, how phosphorus is taken up into plants.

Andrew is now employed at Oxford Nanopore as a Technical Support Specialist. Oxford Nanopore is a disruptive tech company which makes DNA sequencing devices and platforms. It enables sequencing in real time with a 15-20 minute wait from sample prep to results. Before Oxford Nanopore, DNA sequencing would require expensive machinery and would typically take days or weeks to complete.

In his new role, Andrew is constantly interacting with customers and troubleshooting their issues. It’s a problem-solving role where he provides advice to make sequencing better. He delivers workshops and puts together bespoke, tailored training.

Barley
 

Filling the postdoctoral skills gap

Andrew had some at-home encouragement to take part in YES as his wife was a participant the previous year. He cites seeing everything that she got out of it as a motivation to apply. “YES was a great opportunity to have a real look into how businesses work. It was a chance for me to get under the hood and learn how to commercialise science.”

Andrew directly applies the skills he developed at YES to his current job. YES highlights the importance of good teamwork, communication and the presentation skills. Andrew says: “Looking at our pitch preparation, the judges gave great feedback on what looked professional. For me, seeing what a professional presentation looks like was a real eye-opener as it was very different to a science presentation. We were told to forget about the science, which of course I found quite difficult to do.”

Commercialising the science was the skill that Andrew says he needed the most development on: “I was interested in the process of commercialising science and I wanted to see what opportunities there were away from the bench.” Ultimately, this helped Andrew to move into a career path outside of academia and he says it was amazing to make industry contacts.

Time management is something that is hammered home during the YES competition and Andrew says he felt he honed it to a fine art: ”There’s a lot of work to do and it feels like a whirlwind but if you manage your time and have regular meetings, you can make it happen.”

Key skills

  • Commercialisation
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Presentation planning
    and delivery
  • Teamworking
  • Time management

Further reading

Financial awareness Intellectual Property Nurturing teamwork Push your boundaries
 

Would Andrew recommend YES to other postdoctoral researchers?

Yes! It’s a fabulous opportunity to learn and experience a range of skills that realistically you’re never going to get in an academic setting. Even in a worst-case scenario, you go, you learn, you see talks, and you ultimately learn more about yourself. It’s a great way to bolster your CV with skills that aren’t completely specific to academia - it will improve your chance of finding a job.
 

Andrew knows from his own experience that postdoctoral researchers by their nature are very busy, but he says “If you can find time to attend - you won’t regret it. It’s well worth giving it a go as the skills you gain just won’t be found anywhere else.”

#YES19 FREE to postdoctoral researchers funded by BBSRC

 

Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

  • Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Nottingham University Business School
  • Jubilee Campus
  • Nottingham, NG8 1BB