CDT student in a winning YES 2021 team

15 Feb 2022

Over the last few months, CDT student Morag Nixon has been competing in the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES21). Her fellow teammates were Jasmine Cutler from the Industrial Biotechnology DTP at University of Nottingham, Amma Simon, a postdoctoral researcher at Keele University and Jessica Chadwick from the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) at Birmingham University. This competition involves creating a novel business idea and pitching it to potential investors. This multi-university team created the business “RoboCrop” a drone mounted sensor technology to provide farmers with a cutting-edge method for early detection of crop pests and disease.

The students had to work virtually and didn’t know each other beforehand, despite this, they were able to create a strong and successful team. The first round of the competition began in December 2021 and involved a virtual 3-day workshop run by Syngenta. They were able to discuss their business pitch with mentors and attend lectures related to intellectual property, investment and much more. It became clear that the science was second to the business plan and they were able to shift their focus during their pitch to reflect this and allow the hypothetical investors to have confidence in teir business. This workshop was uniquely rewarding with fantastic mentorship. It was after this point that team RoboCrop qualified for the virtual final in January 2022.

RoboCrop presented again to a new panel of judges ranging in disciplines and were awarded the prize for the best Environment category of YES21. Participation in YES21 has allowed the team to broaden their skill set in ways they hadn’t even considered before the competition. This was an amazing opportunity and having finally met in-person after the final, winning was the cherry on top for team RoboCrop. The students would all highly recommend taking part in this fantastic opportunity to gain a unique business perspective within the context of scientific research.