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Plant scientists to train in entrepreneurial skills for food security

13 April 2011

The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) - a business plan competition for early career researchers - is pleased to announce a brand new workshop for plant, microbial and environmental scientists entering the scheme. These researchers will acquire the necessary skills to develop research in a commercial setting such that their science can be translated into products, processes and policies that will help avoid a future food security crisis and improve sustainability in the context of a changing environment.

The workshop will be run at Syngenta's Jealott's Hill International Research Centre near Bracknell and is a partnership between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Syngenta.

Applications close on 27 May 2011 and the workshop will be held in October.

Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said "This is the first time ever that a Biotechnology YES workshop has been held on a commercial campus that has a specific research theme. It is a unique opportunity for BBSRC-funded early career researchers in plant sciences to develop their commercial awareness, improve their industrial collaborations, and better understand how their research might make an impact.

"For researchers to ensure that their work contributes to securing our global food supply in the future, it is absolutely vital that they are able to seek, recognise and seize opportunities for commercial application. This workshop will support people at the earliest stage of their careers by developing their awareness and skills in marketing, finance, intellectual property and much more."

Dr Mike Bushell, Principal Scientific Advisor, Syngenta said "Partnerships between academic researchers and Syngenta's research and development staff are extremely important to us. Working with academic researchers who understand what it takes to bring an idea from the pre-commercial stage into development of a new product is really invaluable and so we are absolutely delighted to be supporting this workshop.

"We are also well aware that researchers who have undertaken an academic PhD are also equipped with complementary skills that can be a great advantage in an industrial environment and so we hope that some of the Biotechnology YES participants might consider a career in industry in the future - perhaps even here at Syngenta!"

Professor John Peberdy MBE, Emeritus Professor of Enterprise, UNIEI said "The involvement of Syngenta in the programme for 2011 marks an important development in the evolution of Biotechnology YES and we look forward to a more significant input of plant, microbial and environmental biotechnology in the business ideas that come forward. We hope that this initiative will promote similar interest and participation by companies in other areas of Biotechnology.

"Biotechnology YES was, and continues to be, a pioneering programme focussed on giving PhD students and early stage researchers, from all areas of the biosciences, an awareness of commercialisation processes and business relevant skills. In the fifteen years of its existence almost 3,000 young research bioscientists have taken part in the Scheme. For many it has provided the focus for their career planning and development. In the latter years, significantly more than half the participants have looked to industry and business for their career."

For more information see:


About Biotechnology YES

Biotechnology YES is annual business plan competition designed to raise awareness of commercialisation amongst bioscience postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers. It was developed and is delivered by a partnership between the University of Nottingham, Institute of Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Biotechnology YES has a strong history and 2011 marks its 16th anniversary.

The value of the scheme has been recognised by Newcastle University in particular and it has now been integrated into their postgraduate continuing professional development programme. For the fifth year, a spin-off competition called Environment YES has been run by the Natural Environment Research Council and also receives sponsorship from Indigo.

A recent independent review of the scheme shows that it gives early career researchers the edge in entrepreneurial skills and future career prospects. Having participated in the Biotechnology YES competition, early career scientists are well prepared to move into industry where their improved entrepreneurial skills are highly valued. There is some evidence to suggest that past participants perceive their earning potential as greater following the competition and the review indicates that the skills gained are exactly complementary to those acquired during a PhD.


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. For more information see:

About Syngenta

Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us please go to


BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299