York scientists scoop another Entrepreneurs' Award
Posted on 11 December 2002
Five scientists from the University of York have won a national competition for budding biotechnology entrepreneurs. The team picked up £1,000 prize money and the prestigious Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) award at the competition final, held in London yesterday (9 December 2002).
"This competition gave us an invaluable insight into the commercial
applications of biotechnology, broadening our horizons beyond purely
academic opportunities. We are proof that the University of York is a
pool of fresh ideas," said Simon Chandler of the winning team,
The team were asked to come up with an imaginary biotech business and
had to take on different roles in the company whilst giving a
presentation to a panel of 'investors' from the UK's biotech community. Simon Chandler, Alex Venn, Jemma Jowett, Julie Richards and
Graeme Park, all from the University of York, based their business plan
on an imaginary company, 'Aviaclean', specialising in products that
remove bird waste from monuments, buildings and public spaces. In
addition Alex Venn won the 'Best Presenter' prize for his individual
The Aviaclean Company plan is for an environmental biotechnology
research and development company, whose main (hypothetical) products are
inexpensive, safe and effective bird poop removal agents. These are
(would be) patented, but naturally occurring, bacteria, which contain
unique enzymes capable of degrading bird guano.
"They did really well," says Professor Julia Goodfellow, Chief
Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
(BBSRC), "It is always difficult facing a panel of people that you know
are experts in their field – but they coped excellently. The skills they
have picked up through this competition should prove valuable when they
have to face this kind of situation later in their careers."
The winning team from the University of York were also presented with
the Biotechnology YES trophy donated by the BioIndustry Association.
Other awards presented at the final yesterday include a runners-up prize
to a team from the University of Oxford, who named their imaginary
company 'Fluoromed Diagnostics'.
Professor John Sparrow from the Department of Biology congratulated
the five PhD students. "This is a great achievement for our Biology
entrepreneurs against stiff competition from the Universities throughout
the UK. A second 'York Biology' team also reached the finals. These
successes follow last year's achievements by a York Biology team which
came away from the national finals with a major prize."
Notes to editors:
- The teams taking part in the 2002 finals were:
AVIACLEAN (University of York) - an imaginary company specialising
in products that remove bird waste from monuments, buildings and public
- CHAMELEON TECH (University of York) - an imaginary company
producing special sterile labels for use in laboratory experiments
- ENVIROPHAGE (Rothamsted Research) - an imaginary company
producing cleaning products that target so-called "superbugs" in
hospitals, municipal buildings and water supplies.
- FLUOROMED DIAGNOSTICS (University of Oxford) – an imaginary
company that has developed "smart tattoos" that tell farmers when their
livestock is ill with foot and mouth disease.
- UVISUAL PEPTIDES (University of Oxford) - an imaginary company
that has developed intelligent sunscreen that indicates to the user when
they have been exposed to a certain dose of UV radiation whilst
- TECHNOPHAGE (University of Glasgow) - an imaginary company that
has developed vaccines and reagents for human Respiratory Syncytial
virus (RSV), the leading cause of acute respiratory disease in children
and the elderly.
The Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) is an
innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the
commercialisation of bioscience ideas among postgraduate
students/postdoctoral scientists. The competition aims to encourage an
entrepreneurial culture in the UK bioscience postgraduate and
postdoctoral base for the benefit of the UK economy. For more
information, go to: www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is one of
seven Research Councils sponsored through the UK Government's Office of
Science and Technology and annually invests around £267 million in the
biosciences. BBSRC sustains a world-class bioscience research community
for the UK. Its mission is to fund internationally competitive research,
provide training in the biosciences, foster opportunities for knowledge
transfer and innovation and promote interaction with the public and
other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest. The wide range of
research funded by BBSRC makes a significant contribution to the quality
of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial
stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and
pharmaceutical sectors. www.bbsrc.ac.uk