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Biotechnology YES hosted at Syngenta
2 November 2011
The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is an annual business plan competition for PhD students and early career postdocs. Now in its 16th year, the highly successful programme continues to evolve and this year, for the first time, one of the regional heats was hosted by an industrial sponsor, the agri-business Syngenta at their Jealott's Hill site.
Biotechnology YES is organised by BBSRC and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and was developed to raise awareness among researchers of the commercialisation of ideas from bioscience. Each team develops a business plan for a product or service that is imaginary (but may be based on actual research) and they pitch 'Dragon's Den' style as though seeking investment.
The competition always gives the researchers involved the opportunity to develop their skills in marketing, finance and intellectual property. However, the workshop held at Jealott's Hill in late October also gave participants an opportunity to access the extensive expertise at Syngenta and to learn about business from the perspective of a large agri-business company. The participants also valued the chance to see and hear for themselves what it is like to work for Syngenta giving them an insight into career options outside of academia.
"At Syngenta we were really excited to be hosting one of the Biotechnology YES workshops." said Dr Mike Bushell, Principal Scientific Advisor, Syngenta "We've been sponsoring the competition for a number of years, recognising the value of helping young researchers gain a better understanding of how business works. It is an exciting competition for the people taking part and a really valuable activity for companies like Syngenta to be involved with."
The participants were given a theme for the Syngenta workshop so all the businesses were focussed on using plant biotechnologies to meet the challenges of food security. Professor Stuart John Dunbar, Senior Syngenta Fellow and team mentor said "Biotechnology YES is an important event for Syngenta as it enables young scientists to engage in the challenges facing world agriculture and the real-world decisions we have to make."
The two winning teams from this workshop were HortiSense from the John Innes Centre and Soil Solutions from the University of Cambridge. The regional heats will be completed during November in time for the final, to be held in London on 5 December. "The experience of the competition has taught us a lot and we're really looking forward to the final in December. We felt particularly privileged to be part of the Syngenta workshop." said Philippa Borrill, Managing Director of HortiSense.
Syngenta workshop Biotechnology YES, group photo with teams and mentors. Credit: Syngenta
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