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Fusion researchers hoping to power their way to top place

Posted on 4 June 2013

Postgraduate students from the Fusion Doctoral Training Network - which is led by the University of York - will compete in the national final of a competition designed to sharpen researchers’ business skills.

The Network, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), also involves the Universities of Durham, Liverpool, Manchester and Oxford. 

The five-strong Fusion team will go head-to-head with other teams from across the country on Wednesday, 19 June at Birmingham Science Park as part of a Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition.

The Fusion team won through to the Birmingham event as one of two winners of an Energy YES competition. Organised by the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Network of Energy Doctoral Training Centres, Energy YES offers PhD students an insight into the business world, allowing them to develop their entrepreneurial skills and advance their careers.

Held in Edinburgh over four days, the Energy YES competition centred around 10 teams preparing a business plan for an energy idea. The students received mentoring and heard from industry speakers, before pitching their business plan at a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style event, as though seeking investment.

The Fusion team – made up of PhD Physics researchers working on fusion – secured one of the top two places with their business plan for liquid earth alkaline batteries. Now, the Fusion Doctoral Training Network and the Midlands Energy Graduate School will compete against the finalists from the sister Engineering YES competition.

The YES competitions give participants the opportunity to develop their business skills in areas such as marketing, finance and intellectual property. They also enable valuable networking with industry experts.

Durham PhD student Jakob Brunner, from the York-led Fusion Doctorial Training Network, said: “The Energy YES competition has been a great learning experience for us, especially on the financial side and in areas like patent rights.

“It has given us a real insight into how problematic it can be to get science out of academia unless you have the right kind of knowledge and understand what is involved. If we need to do a start-up in the future, we will now be much better prepared.”

Professor Howard Wilson, from York’s Department of Physics and Director of the Fusion Doctoral Training Network, said: “Energy YES provides our students with valuable skills that complement their scientific learning to help them become future leaders of the energy industry.

“We are very proud that our researchers have won through to the final stage of the competition and wish them every success.”

The winner of the one-day competition in Birmingham will receive a £2,000 prize.

Notes to editors:

  • With £2.4m of funding from the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, the Fusion Doctoral Training Network is a collaboration of universities and government research institutes that provides postgraduate training in fusion energy science and technology. It is part of the EPSRC’s Centres for Doctoral Training programme, working with other energy centres through the Energy CDT Network. For further information on the Fusion Doctoral Training Network visit
  • For more information about energy research and the Energy YES competition visit
  • More information on the Department of Physics at the University of York at



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Caron Lett
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