Published: 14 November 2014

Bidding to be the best at Biotech YES

(l-r)Luke, Katie, Ben and Kate

A team from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease have secured a place in the final of a national enterprise competition with their idea for a non-invasive therapy for osteoarthritis.

The Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) competition, run by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) aims to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists.

The competition involves pitching a fictional, but plausible, scientific idea with commercial applications as an investment opportunity to a panel of experts.

The Liverpool team formed the company Nanogen Ltd which is made up of CEO, Dr Kate Williamson; Scientific Officer, Dr Ben McDermott; Finance Director, Katie Lee; and Intellectual Property Manager, Luke Tregilgas. They competed in the BioMedical arm of the competition which was held in Stevenage, hosted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

Kate said: “As researchers, we tend to focus solely on the science. The Biotechnology YES competition was a real eye opener in terms of considering how to turn a scientific finding into a business success.”

During the three day event, participants receive help and advice from speakers, mentors and judges in areas such as intellectual property, financial planning and marketing, to help turn their ideas into a practical business plan.

On the final day teams ‘pitch’ their business plan to a panel of business, finance and academic representatives taking the role of venture capitalists. The business plans are judged on the feasibility of the research and development, consideration of intellectual property, commercial and marketing strategy and viability of financial planning.

Nanogen Ltd beat off stiff competition from other universities across the country to earn a place at the UK final, which will be held in London this December. The winning team will collect £2,500, and will have the opportunity to attend the premier regional US business plan competition at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Despite the BioMedical heat being a very intense few days, Ben added: “The competition is a fantastic opportunity to explore the world of biotechnology commercialisation. We have learnt a lot and despite the competition being hard work, we are looking forward to competing in the final next month.”

Nanogen Ltd was assisted by Dr Dale Heywood from the University of Liverpool Management School and Dr Richard Hinchcliffe from Academic Development, Centre for Lifelong Learning.

You can follow the team on Twitter at @NanogenLtd

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