Published: 6 December 2013

Liverpool team triumph in Biotech YES contest

Biotechnology YES

A University of Liverpool team was triumphant in the national finals of an enterprise contest.

Nutec Ltd, made up of CEO, Kelly Ward; Research and Development Director, Robert Hornby; Marketing and Operations Director, Sumaya Dauleh and Finance Director, Ilaria Santeramo were overall winners in the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotech YES) finals in London.

A second team, TERGEO, led by postgraduate students from the School of Environmental Sciences, made up of Stephen Hicks, Laura Roberts-Artal, Megan Thomas and Lidong Bie, narrowly missed out on the top prize in the Environment YES finals, with their idea for cleaning up soil contaminated by fuel using the straw from pea crops.

Nutec Ltd CEO, Kelly Ward said: “We’re delighted to win, it hasn’t really sunk in. We were aware that every team was going to step up for the finals.

“It’s definitely made us think differently about possible career paths. We’ve met so many people along the way who could be invaluable to our future careers, but not only that we’ve had fun and really enjoyed it. We would definitely recommend it.”

Organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supported by industry, the competitions enable early-career researchers from bioscience and environmental sciences to develop their skills and understanding of taking a research idea into the wider marketplace.

Nutec Ltd came up with a dieting aid that reduces the uptake of dietary sugar into the blood following a meal, with the aim of combatting obesity.

And Kelly, from the Institute of Translational Medicine, was also awarded the prize for best presenter.

She said: “I was very shocked and privileged to get the award as there was such a high standard of presenters. Public speaking is something that I have always enjoyed doing and it is rewarding to receive a personal accolade for something you truly enjoy doing. Plus my family and friends will most likely join me in saying that I have always had an overactive mouth!”

Stephen Hicks, CEO of fellow Liverpool student team, TERGEO, added: “It was a fantastic experience to be down in London which made all the hard work worth it, even though we didn’t win the competition. I think it has opened our minds up towards future careers in business, or if we do stay in academia, that we can still develop research ideas and spin them out into different companies.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The participants in these competitions have shown that there is a bright future ahead for biological and environmental science. Both of which are vibrant and increasingly important sectors of the UK. They are developing the skills needed to translate world class research into wider economic and social benefits.”

Nutec Ltd received £2,500 prize money, as well as the opportunity to present at the Rice Business Plan competition in the United States.

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