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Quantum technology and blood analysis idea wins young Cambridge scientists best young biotech entrepreneur title

4 December 2007

A team of bioscientists from the University of Cambridge were last night named as the best young biotech entrepreneurs in a national competition run by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI). The team scooped top prize in the annual Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) by impressing a panel of judges with their proposal for a hypothetical company called Cambridge Quantum Technologies and its revolutionary approach to analysing blood chemistry with a hand-held device that harnesses fluorescing quantum dots.

The Cambridge team beat 64 other teams in regional heats to make it to the final where they overcame stiff opposition from other young bioscientists, with ideas for businesses including year round truffle growing and anti-hayfever nasal inserts, to walk away with the Biotechnology YES 2007 title and prizes including £1,000 and a trip to the US.

Biotechnology YES is an annual competition, now in its 12th year, that aims to help the UK’s young bioscientists gain the skills and contacts needed to turn lab research into commercial reality. Through regional heats across the UK, young scientists competed for places in the final, mentored by a team of advisors which included financiers, intellectual property experts and spin-out company heads.

Dr Peter Ringrose, Chairman of BBSRC and head of the final judging panel, said: “The UK’s bioscience sector is world-class but to turn the laboratory science into benefits for the UK economy and society we need scientists with well-honed entrepreneurial skills. The Cambridge team showed an excellent grasp of the principles of finance, marketing and intellectual property needed to be named as the best budding biotechnology entrepreneurs of 2007.

“Biotechnology YES has now been running for 12 years and the quality of all the teams in the final has been exceptional. All the teams that made it through this year impressed the whole judging panel with their ideas and entrepreneurial understanding. I am particularly pleased that this year saw the involvement of a team of researchers from India, the winners of the first ever parallel India YES competition.”

Anne Lo, who took on the role of Managing Director for the Cambridge Quantum Technologies team, said: “This has been an amazing experience for all of us. We have learnt an enormous amount about both business strategy and team work. We would like to thank everyone who helped us to arrive at this point.”

Photographs of the final and the winning team are available from the BBSRC media office

ENDS

Notes to editors

The winners of the other prizes are as follows:

  • Best consideration of IP strategy sponsored by Eric Potter Clarkson - Algatech, University Of Cambridge
  • Best healthcare business plan sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline - Chemelon Biotech, University of Bradford
  • Best medical technology by Smith & Nephew Prize - Optdermis, University of Manchester
  • Best plant science business plan sponsored by Syngenta - Algatech, University Of Cambridge
  • Best presenter sponsored by Cybersense BioSystems - Aseem Mishra, Probiovision, International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, Delhi
  • Pfizer Prize for Innovation - MycelTech, University of York

Biotechnology YES has been running since 1995. Research has found that young scientists participating in the competition are more likely to enter business roles than other young scientists.

The competition is sponsored by 20 different organisations – BBSRC; BIA; The University of Manchester Incubator Company (UMIC); The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP); Manchester Science Park (msp); Manchester Investment Agency (MIDAS); AstraZeneca; The North West Development Agency (NWDA); BioNow; Cancer Research UK; Eric Potter Clarkson; Gatsby Charitable Foundation; GlaxoSmithKline; the Medical Research Council (MRC); the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Nestle; Pfizer; Smith & Nephew; Syngenta; UK Trade and Investment; The Foreign Commonwealth Office; University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and Yorkshire Forward.

For the first time Biotechnology YES hosted the winners of India YES - a parallel competition sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment – which saw teams from India participated in the Edinburgh and Oxford regional heats in a separate contest. The associated "feeder" competition in India attracted 69 teams, 14 of which were shortlisted before deciding on the four to be represented in the UK competition. The winning India team, ProBioVision, pitched their plan for the world’s first probiotic deodorant.

2007 also saw the involvement of the North West Development Agency and the University of Manchester Incubator Company who hosted the regional workshop in Manchester, sponsored by The University of Manchester Incubator Company (UMIC); The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP); Manchester Science Park (msp); Manchester Investment Agency (MIDAS); AstraZeneca; The North West Development Agency (NWDA); and BioNow.

Bioscience YES Yorkshire and Humber for teams in the North East was funded for the fifth year by Yorkshire Forward. Bioscience YES is aimed solely at universities within the Yorkshire and Humber region.

For the second time a parallel Environment YES was run at the Oxford workshop, sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council. This was won by a team called Iliofarm, from the University of Lancaster & Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The teams and hypothetical company profiles:

Iliofarm (Lancaster University), Winners of Environment YES
Iliofarm is a photovoltaic technology company specialising in the manufacture of a new generation of solar cell technology that will revolutionise the photovoltaic industry.  Patented polymer technology has been developed to dramatically increase the efficiency of cells that are significantly cheaper to produce that the best currently available models.

ProBioTech (Institute of Food Research)
ProBioTech developed a novel method of tackling the devastating fungal plant pathogen Grey Mould.  Plant/soil derived microbes were grown for use in agricultural sprays.  These microbes inhabit the plant and its environment and prevent grey mould growth, therefore saving farmers millions of pounds in crop losses.

CHEMeleon Biotech (University of Bradford)
CHEMeleon Biotech developed a photosensitive compound that will fluoresce when exposed to a set level of UVA and UVB which will then be incorporated into a sun cream.

Optdermis (University of Manchester)
Optdermis have developed a discrete nasal device to prevent the symptoms of air-borne allergies.

Phytometrix (University of Cambridge)
Phytometrix developed a colour indicator system in GM plants to determine nitrate levels in soil, changing colour when nitrate was low thereby assisting farmers in feeding regimes.

Cambridge Quantum Technologies (University of Cambridge)
Cambridge Quantum Technologies (CQT) has developed binding-sensitive quantum dots that only fluoresce light when bound to target molecules.  This platform technology has been incorporated into the Haemalyzer, a hand-held blood biochemistry analyser. This enables faster, cheaper and more convenient point-of-care blood biochemistry testing in a growing market.

Futurzyme (University Of Manchester)
Futurzyme developed a cost effective method for screening bio-transformations.

MycelTech (University of York)
MycelTech has developed an innovative growing system based on a novel compound that allows the indoor farming of truffles ('black diamonds') all year round.

Algatech (University Of Cambridge)
Algatech developed the algal-based GreenFoot™ filter which absorbs carbon dioxide emitted in car exhaust resulting in a carbon neutral vehicle.

Probiovision (International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, Delhi), Winners of India YES
ProBioVision revolutionises the realm of aroma by launching the world's first probiotic deodorant "Olor™".  This magical amalgamation of microbes restricts malodor generation, produces fragrance and keeps your skin feeling fresh and healthy for hours.

About BBSRC

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

About UNIEI

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/

Images

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Winning Cambridge bioscientists: (from left to right) Eliot Read, Tobias Pawliczek, Anne Lo, Zhaoru Lin and Shohta Ueno. (728KB)

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Winning team with BBSRC Chair, Dr Peter Ringrose (43KB)

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Note that these images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

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