Collaborating to make the world a better place
After ten months of engaging virtually, we have our YES20 champions!
The final for the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme 25th cohort was held on Friday 23 April. Our seven finalists teams of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers competed for a prize fund of £18K.
YES20 challenged 196 engineers and scientists, representing 28 UK universities, to come up with commercial solutions to tackle global problems through innovation-led opportunities. YES20 was organised into three themes – biotechnology, engineering and environment.
“Since last August, the 43 teams have been working together to develop their ideas to produce a viable business plan for a start-up company. YES is not for the faint-hearted but in a year of such turmoil all those that have participated should be very proud of their accomplishments.” says Professor Simon Mosey, Chair of YES and Director of The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Despite pivoting from our tried and tested model of 24 years all the teams delivered way beyond our expectations and this is thanks to their hard work and commitment as well as the overwhelming support from all our stakeholders and leading figures in industry and the research community.”
Winners of Biotechnology YES
The winners of the Biotechnology YES stream were GeneSense from the University of Cambridge providing an easy-to-use at-home device to detect and monitor drug resistance mutations in cancer patients based on a simple finger-prick blood test. GeneSense also picked up tickets from the BioIndustry Association to attend their summer garden party this July.
Daniel Kottmann from GeneSense said: “It was a great experience participating in YES20. Coming together from five different departments of our university and not knowing each other before, we had a fantastic team experience. Not only did we learn a lot about biotech entrepreneurship and business, we also built important connections and even friendships on the way. YES20 was definitely a valuable addition to our PhD studies, helping us to become future innovators and entrepreneurs!”
Winners of Engineering YES
Engineering YES saw Pipeline Organics, a group of researchers representing the universities of East Anglia and Nottingham, take the prize for their innovative 3D printed enzymatic biofuel cell that can convert organic material in fluids into electricity. Pipeline Organics also receives an invitation to attend the ‘Engineers in Business Fellowship Champion of Champions Final’ this October.
Arielle Torres who was a member of the team from the University of Nottingham said: “Participating in YES20 was a highly rewarding, informative experience for the team - winning the Engineering prize was the cherry on top! We proudly took an innovative product idea and developed it into a viable 'business' through the support of mentors whose invaluable experience and knowledge helped to refine our work. We now look forward to utilising the network we have built throughout the process to pursue our idea further.”
Winners of Environment YES and “best plant, microbial and environmental business plan”
The winners of Environment YES were CyanoCycle from the University of Oxford transforming wastewater treatment: a green and efficient solution to get the best out of waste powered by cyanobacteria. CyanoCycle were also the winners of the “best plant, microbial and environmental business plan” sponsored by Syngenta and receives an open invitation to attend one of Natural England’s National Nature Reserves.
Andrew Wood was part of the winning team: "YES20 was an eye-opening experience for us. We learnt so much about pitching to investors and starting a business, both incredibly useful skill sets. To win against such tough competition was a big confidence booster for us all! We now feel like we know how to successfully develop a scientific idea into a commercial one and feel that this will definitely help us as we advance our careers beyond PhD and into the innovation and entrepreneurship world."
Winners of "best financial planning strategy"
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and St George's University of London team, BugBiome, won the “best financial planning strategy” sponsored by James Cowper Kreston. The team produced a topical repellent product – Skin Shield containing a genetically modified bacteria that alters the skin microbiome to enhance its natural mosquito repellent properties.
Left to right: Rhodri Edwards, Alicia Showering, Emma Collins and Stanislavs Vasiljevs
Winners of "best IP strategy"
Mycrobio, a group of researchers from the BBSRC White Rose DTP representing the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, won the “best IP strategy” sponsored by Potter Clarkson. The team’s idea uses microbiome sequencing to create custom skincare products that are capable of restoring and rebalancing the skin microbiome to maintain healthy skin.
Left to right: Alice Seleiro, Orlagh Anderson, Laurence De Lussy-Kubisa, Maia Harvey and Jack Wright
Winners of "best healthcare business plan"
The University College London team, OMV Therapeutics, won the “best healthcare business plan” sponsored by GSK. The team’s idea was a novel immunotherapeutic platform with the ability to target a broad spectrum of cancers at a reduced cost.
Left to right: Tiffany Hood, Thomas Fanthom, Georg Von Massow, Roman Labbé and Jack Firth
Winners of the People’s Choice award
The University of Nottingham’s team, Air Energy Renewable, won the People’s Choice award sponsored by Indigo. The team’s idea provides an alternative way of storing electricity in surplus from renewable energy sources using a green solution, compressed air.
Left to right: Annalisa Ferrante, Olamide Eso, Richard Sélo, Olutola Adekeye and Daniel Padrao