Two Manchester teams have won places in the final of a national competition to find the entrepreneurial bioscientists of the future.
Joint winning teams, DentRegen and Microbe Solutions, beat off stiff competition from 18 other teams from universities and institutes around the UK in the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotechnology YES) 2010 competition. They will fly the flag for the North West in December in London where the winner will collect £1,000.
DentRegen (Anita Bassi, Lucy Bosworth, Seyedeh Atefeh Mobasseri and Lesley-Anne Turner) offers the first, unique biodegradable dental filling material that fully regenerates the tooth. The filling material is a gel/fibre composite which degrades at the same rate as new tooth formation. This material will remove the need for unsightly dental filling materials and fillings that require repair. DentRegen provides a single procedure and leaves your tooth as good as new.
Microbe Solutions (Carmine Circelli, Christopher Cobb, Laura Davies, Chris Fisher and Elizabeth Wright) have developed the nitro-pod. Their enhanced, naturally occurring bacteria optimally fix nitrogen when enclosed in their unique capsule pods, which can be sewn along with seeds. The pods are activated once in contact with wet soil and last roughly two years but should be applied annually for optimum effect. The pods can be used with any plant and the bacteria cannot survive outside of the pod ensuring an environmental safeguard. The nitro-pods are not only cheaper to produce than existing fertilisers but also increase yield by 20-25%.
The competition, hosted by UMIC on day one and organised jointly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI), is open to bioscience researchers and aims to help them commercialise their ideas. The North West heat was held over three days at UMIC’s Core Technology Facility and Manchester United Football Club. Regional professionals, including representatives from UMIC and UMIP and their network of advisors and professional associates offered mentoring sessions to the researchers during the competition. Teams also attended workshops and seminars to hear advice and received tips on how to develop their ideas into commercially-viable opportunities. Each team was required to present an idea that is based on a hypothetical biotech idea. On the final day of the event they presented their concept to a judging panel of biotechnology and business experts.
Dr Simon Mosey, Director of the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) said: “This year participating teams worked exceptionally hard to solve real life problems by the creative use of scientific breakthroughs. My personal favourite was the use of a hypothetical enzyme to remove fat from the stomach. This is a fantastic idea with huge potential for business and societal benefits.”
Managing Director of UMIC, Dr Martino Picardo, said: “This competition highlights the next generation of scientists with the potential to learn about business creation. With each year the standard and quality of the team’s improves. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students and am extremely impressed by their enthusiasm, presentation skills, ability to learn and their self-motivation. It has also been a pleasure to work with the speakers, mentors (mainly from UMIP with some external IPR advice from Harrison Goddard Foote and Marks and Clerk) and the judging panels, all of whom give of their time for free.”
Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills added: “Now, more than ever, we need UK bioscientists with the skills and knowledge to realise the economic and social benefit of their research. The Biotechnology YES finalists have demonstrated that they possess an ability to see what is required in finance, marketing and intellectual property to propel their research into the commercial sphere. The teams have done well to get this far and are developing knowledge and skills that will put them in an excellent position to exploit their abilities in bioscience and entrepreneurship to develop real-life products and technologies in the future. We wish them the best of luck in the final.”
The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme is sponsored by BioSKAPE; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); GlaxoSmithKline (GSK); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); the Medical Research Council (MRC); MRC Technology; the University of Manchester Incubator Company (UMIC); the University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP); the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise (UNIEI); the Wellcome Trust; and Nestle.