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Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition

Copyright: Joel Knight

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 29 February 2016 – 27 May 2016


Biotechnology YES, now in its 21st year, is an innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of ideas among early career researchers. The competition is funded by sponsorship and aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in the UK postgraduate and postdoctoral base for the benefit of the UK bioeconomy. The competition is organised jointly by:

  • The University of Nottingham – The Haydn Green Institute
  • Innovation and Skills Group, BBSRC

About the competition

Participants enter as teams and develop a business plan for a company based on a hypothetical but plausible idea based on real markets over the course of a three day residential workshop. The workshop encompasses presentations and mentoring sessions from leading figures in industry and culminates in the presentation of the business plans to a panel of 'equity investors' drawn from industry and academia. Up to three teams from each workshop are selected to progress to the final in London.

In addition to the general Biotechnology YES workshops there are several themed workshops which are run in conjunction with industry: the Plants, Microbial and Environmental Workshop, hosted by Syngenta; the Biomedical Workshop, hosted by GSK and the Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst; and the Food, Nutrition and Wellbeing workshop, hosted by Unilever.

Benefits of taking part

  • Prize fund of £5,000, including first prize of £2,500, trip to USA, invite to BIA Gala dinner 
  • Enhance your CV
  • Develop and improve transferable skills such as communication, time-management, negotiation and team-building
  • Network with industry professionals
  • Increase your commercial awareness and technology transfer knowledge

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

Apply via the Biotechnology YES website (see external links).

Case studies

Winning team 2015 – ECTODECTO, The University of Nottingham

Copyright: Joel Knight
Biotechnology YES winners ECTODECTO. Copyright: Joel Knight

The winners of Biotechnology YES, receiving a £2,500 prize, sponsored places at the BioIndustry Association dinner, a delegate pass to PraxisUnico's 2016 Conference and the opportunity to attend the Rice Business Plan competition in the United States, were ECTODECTO from The University of Nottingham. Their idea was a new way of detecting and treating head lice infections.

Claire Lewis, Managing Director of ECTODECTO said: "It’s amazing to win, the hard work paid off. We knew we did ourselves proud so this is just the icing on the cake, the standard was very high.

“I’d love to pursue avenues in these sorts of careers and I’d definitely recommend taking part. We’ve learned how to take our science to the market, intellectual property, marketing strategies, licensing, just a whole world we didn’t know about before.”

Winning team 2014 – SenzaSeeds from the University of Leicester

Copyright: Max Alexander
SenzaSeeds Ltd. winners of Biotechnology YES 2014. From left to right: Zoë Stephenson, Joana Santos, Usha Aryal, Munisha Devi and Ricky Trigg. Image: Max Alexander

The winners of Biotechnology YES, receiving a £2,500 prize, sponsored places at the BioIndustry Association gala dinner and the opportunity to present at the Rice Business Plan competition in the United States, were SenzaSeeds Ltd from the University of Leicester. Their idea was to produce naturally caffeine-free coffee without loss of flavour.

Managing Director Zoe Stephenson said: "We can't quite believe we've won. It feels incredible because we've put in so much hard work and the standard was incredibly high. There are so many things that we have taken out of it, it's incredible to think how far we've come."

This year for the first time all the finalists competed for a £1,000 prize in a 'Shark Tank' – delivering a 60-second elevator pitch followed by a 'Killer Question' from one of the judges. The winners of the Shark Tank prize were Melatec from The University of Manchester.

Related calls: collaboration early career industry innovation knowledge exchange people skills and training