Posted on 17 March 2015
Sponsored by investment management firm Baillie Gifford, 30 students divided into five groups took part in the competition. Each with an academic mentor, groups were asked to producea novel idea and formal business plan for a biotech project over 8 weeks.
They presented their resulting ideas to a trio of Biotech ‘Dragons’: Dawn Coverley, Reader in Biology and CEO of her own company, Cizzle Biotech; Brian Greenwood, former Telecommunications Industry Executive, member of the University Court and ex-Chairman of Pro-Cure Therapeutics; and Douglas Brodie, Partner in Global Discovery at Baillie Gifford.
Diverse business ideas included: plants which make their own insecticide, Deuterium depleted water, Biotech generated scent oils, biologically aged whisky, and the winner: nutrient-boosted bananas for post-exercise use. The winning team received a reward of Amazon vouchers.
Professor Norman Maitland, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Department of Biology’s Cancer Research Unit, said: “If our teaching and research in biology is to have an impact on society, then it is important that students not only accept the commercial side of biology, Biotechnology, but also learn how it is done. A few years ago the Department of Biology started a skills module – Bioenterprise - to do just this. Unlike many other modules, Bioenterprise draws on external business expertise, as well as using business-minded academics as its teaching personnel.”
Students enrolled on the Bioenterprise module study intellectual property, venture capital, and how to write a business plan as well as how to start a University spin-out company.