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Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition

Copyright: Biotechnology YES

Call status: Closed
Next application deadline: 2016 TBC


Biotechnology YES, now in its 20th 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 new for this year, the Food, Nutrition and Wellbeing workshop, hosted by Unilever. The Royal Society of Chemistry is also sponsoring a Chemistry YES workshop for the third year.

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

2015 calendar of events

Briefing session Nottingham 3 August 2015
Food, nutrition and wellbeing workshop Hosted by Unilever, Colworth 30 September – 2 October 2015
Chemistry workshop Nottingham 7-9 October 2015
Biomedical workshop Hosted by GSK and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst 14-16 October 2015
Bioscience workshop Manchester 21-23 October 2015
Bioscience workshop Edinburgh 4-6 November 2015
Plant, microbial and environment workshop Hosted by Syngenta, Jealott's Hill 11-13 November 2015
Final London 10 December 2015

How to apply

The call for applications is closed.

Apply via the Biotechnology YES website.

Case studies

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.

Winning team 2013 - Nutec Ltd from the University of Liverpool

This winning team had a concept for a diet aid that acts to reduce the uptake of dietary sugar into the bloodstream.

Managing Director Kelly Ward said: "We're delighted to win, it hasn't really sunk in. We were aware that every team was going to step up for the finals.

"It's definitely made us think differently about possible career paths. We've met so many people along the way who could be invaluable to our future careers, but not only that we've had fun and really enjoyed it. We would definitely recommend it." (see related links.)