The entrepreneurial skills of a team of early career bioscientists with ideas for food security have earned them top place in a national competition held at County Hall, London last night. The winners of the 2010 Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition are Laura Davies, Chris Cobb, Elizabeth Wright, Christal Fisher and Carmine Circelli from The University of Manchester.
Biotechnology YES is an annual business plan competition run by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI).
The team impressed a panel of investors with their hypothetical company Microbe Solutions Ltd when they presented their business idea for an alternative to conventional nitrogen fertilisers called Nitro-Pods® – a soil treatment consisting of enhanced naturally occurring nitrogen-fixing bacteria housed in a unique and environmentally safe pod. The judges were so impressed with their pitch that the team also take home the prize for best plant and microbial science business plan, sponsored by Syngenta.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said “I would like to congratulate the winners on their success. The UK is world leading in bioscience research and the 21st century will be the age of bioscience driving the knowledge based bio-economy, already estimated to be worth €2 trillion per year in Europe. We need scientists to become equipped to exploit the results of their excellent work and so help the UK economy to compete and grow.
The participants in Biotechnology YES have had a brilliant opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills early in their careers. Translating knowledge into innovation is the challenge that we face, and developing these skills will put them in an excellent position to translate discoveries into social and economic benefits for the UK.
It is expected that the future security of our food supply will rely on the translation of high quality fundamental bioscience research into new products and technologies. The team from Manchester have demonstrated that they have the skills to do this in their future careers, should they choose to.”
Microbe Solutions Ltd made it through regional heats to compete against 10 other teams in the final, eventually going head to head with runners up Aptatek from the University of Bristol. Over 100 teams entered the 2010 competition, with each participant receiving mentoring and coaching in business planning; commercial and marketing strategies; raising and managing finance; and patenting and intellectual property.
Dr Laura Davies, Managing Director of Microbe Solutions said “We feel very privileged to have won – the standard was extremely high. We’ve enjoyed the experience immensely and it has opened our horizons to the kinds of careers that are available later.
“We’d like to thank the University, especially UMIP, for their help and support. We have learned a tremendous amount from working with them and throughout the competition.
“The team was put together for this experience and we’ll definitely stay close afterwards; who knows, perhaps there will be future business collaborations!”
As well as the title, the team take away £1000, tickets to the Bioindustry Association annual gala dinner and the chance to present the winning business plan at the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houstan, Texas, USA.
Professor Sir Tom Blundell, Chair of BBSRC, an early patron of the Scheme, and after dinner speaker at the Biotechnology YES 2010 final said “Congratulations to the winning team on a well deserved victory. I was involved in the early days of the Biotechnology YES competition in 1995 and the standard of competition has clearly risen year on year – the level at which teams are competing is now extraordinarily high. All the finalists gave impressive presentations and many would clearly be comfortable in the boardroom already. This is a great prospect for scientific entrepreneurship and I would like to wish all the competitors every success in their future careers.”
Biotechnology YES is annual business plan competition designed to raise awareness of commercialisation amongst bioscience postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers. It was developed and is delivered by a partnership between the University of Nottingham, Institute of Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Biotechnology YES has a strong history and this year marks its 15th anniversary.
Professor John Peberdy MBE, Emeritus Professor of Enterprise, UNIEI said “We are tremendously proud of this year’s winners as we are of all who have participated over the years. Before the launch of Biotechnology YES there was very little awareness of the need for entrepreneurial skills amongst scientists and this scheme has played no small part in changing that. Biotechnology YES has now trained almost 3000 early career researchers in business-relevant skills and many previous participants have put these skills into practice as their careers have developed. It gives me great pleasure to have been part of the Competition from the start.”
The value of the scheme has been recognised by Newcastle University in particular and it has now been integrated into their postgraduate continuing professional development programme. For the fifth year, a spin-off competition called Environment YES has been run by the Natural Environment Research Council and also receives sponsorship from Indigo. 3 teams competed last night in parallel with the Biotechnology YES competition for the Environment YES title, with Mara Mor Ltdfrom the UHI Millennium Institute being crowned the winners.
A recent independent review of the scheme shows that it gives early career researchers the edge in entrepreneurial skills and future career prospects. Having participated in the Biotechnology YES competition, early career scientists are well prepared to move into industry where their improved entrepreneurial skills are highly valued. There is some evidence to suggest that past participants perceive their earning potential as greater following the competition and the review indicates that the skills gained are exactly complementary to those acquired during a PhD.
Other winners in the Biotechnology YES competition were:
Best healthcare business plan sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline
Orexipro, Newcastle University
Best consideration of financial planning strategy sponsored by James Cowper LLP
Aeternus, Queen Mary, University of London
Best consideration of IP strategy sponsored by Potter Clarkson
Aptatek, University of Bristol
Best plant and microbial science business plan sponsored by Syngenta
Microbe Solutions, The University of Manchester
Best presenter sponsored by University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation
Melanie Wrigley, Tellus Technologies, The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland
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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.
UMIC is pleased to announce that its Managing Director, Dr Martino Picardo, has been awarded the Biomedical Personality of the Year award 2010 at the gala BIONOW awards dinner which took place on the 11th November. Unable to attend the event himself, Dr. Linda Magee (COO, MAHSC) accepted the award on his behalf and there followed a video message by Martino acknowledging receipt. Martino commented: “This is a great award to win and is a testament to all the hard work and success of the Bioincubation activities in Manchester over the years. It also recognises the tremendous support that has been provided by The University of Manchester throughout this time and all the hard work and support provided by the UMIC staff for which I am extremely grateful. Likewise, I have always appreciated and tried to recognise both the funding and support provided by BIONOW to our Incubation activities in Manchester. Finally, it is recognition of the success achieved by our tenants over the past years which has been most pleasing. I am very grateful to all those colleagues and friends that have passed on their best wishes to me personally since the event on Thursday night. This is a real watershed moment for me.” Anyone requiring further information should contact: email@example.com
Over 200 people from the Northwest’s biomedical sector gathered last night (Thursday 11th November) at the 10th Northwest Biomedical Awards at Mere Golf and Country Club.
The awards, organised by Bionow, the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s (NWDA) biomedical cluster support group, were a resounding success and showcased the very best of the region’s world class biotechnology sector.
The Manchester winners were:
Biomedical Start Up Company of the Year (sponsored by Baker Tilly)
Winner: Bioxydyn Ltd
Healthcare Project of the Year (sponsored By TrusTech/NHS)
Winner: Femestim, The University of Manchester
Biomedical Company of the Year (sponsored by AstraZeneca/MedImmune)
Winner: Epistem Plc
Biotech Personality of the Year – Dr Martino Picardo, UMIC
Other winners on the night included Liverpool-based Prokyma Technologies – Innovation in Diagnostics Project of the Year award. Eden Biodesign won Biomedical Project of the Year.
Emerging Biomedical Project of the Year was won by The University of Liverpool . Jane King-Haughey of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics won the Promising Biomedical Technologist award.
The Rt Hon Vince Cable, Secretary of State for BusinessInnovation and Skills, visited The University of Manchester Incubator Company (UMIC) on Thursday 21 October 2010.
He was given a tour of the world-class business incubation resources in the Core Technology Facility.
Dr Cable met with the Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Rod Coombs, Clive Rowland, CEO of The University of Manchester’s Intellectual Property Commercialisation Company (UMIP) and UMIC Incubation Manager Tony Walker.
He also met Mark Ferguson, CEO of Renovo, the world leader in scar prevention and reduction research, and Andrew Gooda, Manufacturing Director of Nanoco, a company at the forefront of nanotechnology.
During the tour of two of the most exciting companies in the North West, Dr Cable found out how the University identifies and supports innovative research commercialisation potential, and nurtures and develops spin-out companies and licenses technology.
Clive Rowland, CEO of UMIP, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State and honoured to be seen as an exemplar of university technology transfer. We were able to illustrate some genuine examples of enterprise; in particular, the role of UMIP in selecting inventions and managing proof of principle and early-stage projects through to company status and licences.
“Nanoco is now a £200m business and Renovo is valued at £59m after ideas were taken from the lab with support from the University and through entrepreneurial leadership, to create award winning spin-out companies.
Our model and facilities are all about converting ideas into commercial reality and the work is crucial to maintaining the high profile of the University and the relevance to society of its associated commercial exploitation activities.”
UMIC is the facilities management and business support service provider for The University of Manchester. The company is entirely owned as a subsidiary of the University, and provides state-of-the-art facilities and top-quality business support services for start-ups.
UMIC aims to help Manchester and the region deliver high levels of economic growth through the creation, development and attraction of competitive, high-value and profitable businesses within a culture of enterprise and innovation.
UMIC is the sister company to The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP), the managing agent of The University of Manchester for intellectual property commercialisation.
World class facilities are available for technology and biotechnology-based businesses. Companies in UMIC’s facilities have raised in excess of £100m in venture capital, with several now listed on the London Stock Exchange or AIM markets.
For further information please contact:
Jon Keighren, Media Relations Manager, The University of Manchester
+44 (0)161 275 8384