I had the privilege of spending yesterday afternoon as a mentor for part of the annual Plant, microbial & environment YES competition. The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is designed to develop business awareness and an understanding of entrepreneurship in UK environmental postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists, and this is achieved through a competition where teams prepare an oral business plan for a company based on a hypothetical but plausible idea, based on real markets. The teams then pitch their plan to a a panel comprised of business, financial and academic representatives taking the role of equity investors.
I worked with 5 fantastic teams from Manchester, Reading, Warwick and Heriot-Watt on ideas as diverse as a diagnostic for bovine TB, bacterial seed coatings, novel uses for coffee production waste, animal therapeutics derived from waste blood and thermal insulated paper products and I was really impressed with both their enthusiasm and how well they'd applied the training they'd been given during the workshop in areas including:
- the requirements of a business plan;
- intellectual property and patenting strategy;
- raising and managing finance;
- commercial and marketing strategies;
- regulatory affairs; and
- company case histories.
Today the teams will be delivering their pitches, so good luck to all my teams, and I hope their hard work is rewarded and they progress to the finals. More importantly, I hope all the participants enjoyed the experience, and learned that commercialisation is interesting, challenging but above all fun and rewarding.