Introducing engineers and scientists to entrepreneurship results in amazing solutions to health and sustainability challenges
The final of the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES19) global competition was held on Tuesday 10 December at the Royal Society, London. Teams of postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers went head to head to compete for a prize fund of £15K.
The YES19 competition challenged engineering and science researchers to work together to come up with commercial solutions to some of the world’s most pressing health and sustainability issues. YES19 was organised into three themes – Biotechnology, Engineering and Environment.
Earlier in the year, selected teams attended an intensive three-day residential workshop, where their ideas were developed further, By the end of this, each team had produced a viable business plan for a start-up company.
Winners of Biotechnology YES and "best healthcare business plan"
The winners of the Biotechnology YES stream were Invecta Solutions from UCL with their innovative manufacturing process that enables novel gene therapy products to reach the market faster. Invecta also picked up the prize for the “best healthcare business plan” sponsored by GSK and tickets from the BioIndustry Association (BIA) to attend their gala dinner.
Noelle Colant from Invecta Solutions said: “Taking part in and going on to win the Biotechnology YES competition has been a huge confidence booster for everyone in our team. We came here hoping to learn some new skills and we’ve walked away with so much business knowledge thanks to the mentors we’ve worked with. Putting together a winning business plan for our idea has opened up many opportunities for our careers beyond our PhDs and we couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved.”
Left to right: Jaime Teneb, Greta Jasulaityte, Viktoria Gkoutzioupa and Noelle Colant
Winners of Engineering YES and "best consideration of financial planning strategy"
Engineering YES saw Cloud Break Technologies, a group of researchers from MRC DiMeN DTP representing the universities of Leeds and Sheffield, take the prize for their idea for a home heating system which uses the power of the sun all year round to save money and the environment. The team were also winners of the “best consideration of financial planning strategy” sponsored by James Cowper Kreston.
Dan Bennison who was a member of the team from the University of Sheffield said: “YES19 has been such an incredible experience for us. We could never have imagined the progress we’ve made in such a short space of time. Being able to think commercially about our idea and then pitch it to a crowd of potential investors is a massive step for us and to go on to win is like a dream come true. This feels like the beginning of something very special indeed.”
Left to right: YES alumni, Ifeyinwa Kanu of IntelliDigest
, awarding Bridget Benson, Freya Leif, Jacob Rudman and Dan Bennison the Engineering YES prize
Winners of Environment YES, “best plant, microbial and environmental business plan” and the People’s Choice award
The winners of Environment YES were Larvita from the University of Manchester with their vertical insect farm which recycled food and brewery waste to produce high protein, nutrient-boosting poultry feed and a low cost, natural fertiliser. Larvita were also the winners of the “best plant, microbial and environmental business plan” sponsored by Syngenta and the People’s Choice award sponsored by Indigo.
James Dinsley was part of the winning team: "YES has been a fantastic opportunity, giving us a valuable insight into how science can benefit both people and the environment by working together with business. Expert training and mentoring throughout YES enabled us to delve into the worlds of finance, marketing and intellectual property, with which we had no experience before. Winning the competition has provided us with a wealth of knowledge and experience, enhanced our personal networks, and given us the confidence to explore future business ideas."
Winners of "best consideration of IP strategy"
The University of Liverpool’s team, Hydroot, won the “best consideration of IP strategy” sponsored by Potter Clarkson. The team’s idea used a genetically modified root-associated bacterium to allow better water retention in soil leading to a decrease in water usage.
Left to right: Jack Fitzpatrick, Becky Bennett,
Lewis Fisher and Ross Mulhall
Winner of the "social media" prize
Adrienne Cox, a member of Aura Biomedical from the University of Liverpool, won the “social media” prize sponsored by the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Throughout Adrienne positively promoted the competition across social networks.
Left to right: Alex Rothwell, Adrienne Cox,
Khoula Afzal and Mark Platt
What some of our judges had to say
Dr Hannah Thompson, Chief Product & People Officer at Cambridge Cancer Genomics, and YES alumnus:
“It is wonderful to see how YES empowers postgraduates to develop transferable skills which complements their PhD. Creative thinking, financial awareness, problem solving, and team building are skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. It is important to invest in the development of future generations.
“YES gives researchers the opportunity to develop their communication skills and hone their elevator pitch: describing their idea or product to an external audience and clearly articulating the benefits of their work. This time spent outside of the lab, focusing on commercialising technology, gives these scientists a set of new skills which will help them to stand out from the crowd for prospective employers.”
Dr Malcolm Skingle, Director Academic Liaison at GSK, has been involved with YES since its inception in 1995: “YES is a fantastic vehicle for students to engage with industry culminating in benefits not only for the students in relation to broadening their employability in the future but also benefits to industry in relation to knowledge exchange.
"Over the past 24 years that I have been involved, the competition has seen many ideas, each with their own unique business models and ground-breaking impacts, come to fruition. It is important to provide environments that encourages curiosity, inspired by the freedom to be creative, and that UK plc can actively support this activity.”
Past participant, Dr Ana Atlee, co-founder of Seedball: “It’s phenomenal to see the continued creativity, enthusiasm and energy the participants put into their pitches. YES, as it moves into its 25th year, remains a vital component to the PhDs and postdocs enterprise journey.”
About YES Photo gallery YES20 expression of interest
Left to right: Dr Malcolm Skingle, of GSK
, awarding Jaime Teneb, Greta Jasulaityte and Viktoria Gkoutzioupa the “best healthcare business plan” prize