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Young scientists' dream idea wins national enterprise competition

15 December 2005

Scientists from the University of Glasgow were last night named as the best potential biotechnology entrepreneurs after winning the 10 th Anniversary final of a national business plan competition in London. The competition, Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotechnology YES), is held annually to help young researchers to understand how to set up their own biotech company.

The Glasgow scientists walked away with a prize of £1,000, sponsored places at the BioIndustry Association Dinner and the opportunity, provided by the Department of Trade and Industry, to give a presentation at a prestigious US business plan competition at Rice University in Texas. Their hypothetical business plan was a company called Biochiral Ltd and its cutting edge plan to develop provide chiral amino acids as the basis for drugs with greater safety and efficacy in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly process . The team competed against seven other teams in the final

Last night’s final marked a decade of success for Biotechnology YES, which is organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI). It helps young scientists develop business awareness and an understanding of the skills needed to become a successful biotechnology entrepreneurs. The teams were selected for the final in regional heats and had to present a business plan for an imaginary biotech company to a panel of expert judges acting as venture capitalists.

Dr Peter Ringrose, Chairman of BBSRC and head of the judging panel said, “Over the last 10 years the quality of entries for Biotechnology YES has never failed to impress me. This year continued this excellent trend and the judges were hugely impressed with all the teams’ presentations, preparations and business plans. In particular the Biochiral team showed a first-rate grasp of the principles of finance, marketing and intellectual property and demonstrated the attributes needed to be a success should the\y decide to set up their own biotech company.”

Adrienne Edkins, Managing Director of the winning team said: “We are tremendously happy to have won. We are very grateful to Biotechnology YES for the opportunity to be part of such a valuable experience. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow. The team is looking forward to representing Biotechnology YES in the United States next year.”

Runners-up in the main competition were Spidex ICT from the Royal Veterinary College who presented their concept of a highly effective insecticide based on spider venom. Other prizes presented included:

Best intellectual property strategy, sponsored by Eric Potter Clarkson – Metallogica

Best plant science plan, sponsored by Syngenta – Spidex ICT

Best healthcare prize, sponsored by GSK – Surgiclean

Best individual presentation, sponsored by Cybersense Biosystems – Eoin Ryan, Spidex ICT

Best Environmental Science, sponsored by Natural Environment Research Council - Metallogica

(‘Company’ profiles are listed in the Notes to Editors).

Professor Martin Binks, Director of UNIEI, said, “Biotechnology YES was one of the earliest examples of what is now recognized as ‘classic’ entrepreneurship education. Students work in teams with their own ‘discoveries’ and inventions to develop new concepts and solutions. They are taught and mentored by practitioners who provide much of the knowledge and understanding and, most critically, the tacit information which only comes from experience. The results of this year’s competition reflect the effectiveness of this approach and help to explain its growing popularity across the university sector.”

One of the key features of Biotechnology YES is the introduction to Intellectual Property and patents that participants receive. Stephen Smith, Senior Associate at patent attorneys Eric Potter Clarkson, said, “Many early career researchers are not familiar with the need for start-up biotech companies to protect the ideas that they will be basing their growth on. All the teams presenting at the final demonstrated an understanding of patenting strategies and issues that would not be out of place in a real company. It is a tribute to the mentoring and training the teams receive at Biotechnology YES.”


Notes to editors

Pictures of the winners are available from the BBSRC Media Office, please see above for contact details.

Profiles of the hypothetical ‘companies’:

  • Klentech (University of Leeds) have developed an innovative product for the containment and eradication of C. difficile, a major hospital super bug
  • The Designer Milk Company Limited (Institute for Animal Health) has developed a 99.9% lactose-free fresh Milk: NoLac™. This product is targeted at lactose intolerant consumers which make up between 80-90% of the total world population
  • Metalogica (University of Birmingham) have developed a technology to produce high purity Platinum using a more efficient and cost effective biological process to address market deficit and environmental concerns
  • Nutrabacta (University of Sheffield) is based on a novel strain of bacteria that we have isolated and modified so that it is capable of breaking down a third of the currently wasted un-digestable protein within animal feeds
  • Spidex ICT TM (Royal Vet College) has developed a novel insecticide, Spidex Blue TM, derived from spider venom. The active component is a peptide which is biodegradable and also insect specific
  • Surgiclean (University of Edinburgh) have developed an easy and efficient enzymatic wash for instruments and apparatus to remove endotoxins - contaminants that cause sepsis and cost the NHS £500M per year in extended hospital stays and treatment
  • Biochiral Ltd (University of Glasgow) is dependent on the enzymatic degradation of hydantoins to provide chiral amino acids as a basis to synthesis drugs with greater safety and efficacy in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly process
  • Fagio Therapeutics (University of Edinburgh) uses bacteriophages together with a surfactant molecule to target specific host pathogens to cure bovine mastitis

For more information on the Biotechnology YES competition go to: http://www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk/


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk


The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) is a world class centre committed to the development of entrepreneurial skills and the commercial innovation of new technologies and ideas. Our purpose is to engage staff and students in the acquisition of enterprise skills so that they are better able to realize the opportunities generated in a rapidly developing entrepreneurial culture. UNIEI aims to be at the forefront of international thinking and best practice in engaging universities and businesses in the process of wealth creation. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/enterprise/

External contact

Tracey Hassall-Jones, University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation

tel: 07956 156629


Simon Cutler

tel: 01793 413243
fax: 01793 414674

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382