EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Sustainable Chemistry

CDT students participate in YES Competition

October 20, 2016

By Jonny Hunter, Cohort 2 student

EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Chemistry was represented at this year’s Young Entrepreneur Scheme (YES) programme by two teams who competed in different streams – Environment YES and Biotechnology YES.

The competition involved the development of a business plan for a company, based on a hypothetical but credible idea.  The Environment YES team built a business idea around a high-tech agricultural machine which monitored crop health and informed farmers when and where to apply pesticides, nutrients and water. This would increase crop yields and decrease usage of field additives. The company was founded under the name of RoboCrop.

The Biotechnology YES team had designed a business around the use of a genetic pathway implanted into a bacterium which would allow the bacteria to uptake glucose (from waste coconuts) and excrete ethylene - thus allowing the generation of a renewable ethylene feedstock for polymer synthesis. This team was called Cocomer.

The process involved an intensive workshop comprising a series of lectures focused on gaining financial investment, protecting intellectual property and conducting market research. Following these lectures, the teams separated to work on their individual ideas with the support of specific mentors.

By the end of the first day of the workshop, all the teams were extremely tired but the organisers had one more trick up their sleeves. They asked for a one minute elevator pitch to be given by the teams on the following morning.  Cocomer gave an excellent role play pitch, presented as a discussion between two friends whilst RoboCrop presented their business in the format of a short poem as it was National Poetry Day on that day.

The second day consisted of more lectures, this time from people who had set up their own business such as NuVison, Azotic Technology and Critical Pharmaceuticals.  This was followed by more team work and preparation for the main presentation.

Whilst both teams gave excellent presentations proposing innovative ideas, the winning business ideas were Cutico (waterproofing cups) in Environment YES and BeEco (modified chemoattractant for eliminating bee mites) in Biotechnology YES.

YES competition was intense, requiring a significant investment of time and effort. Both teams felt that the experience had been extremely valuable, not only in terms of learning about business, but also working as a part of a team in a busy fast moving environment. 

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