Aviaclean – a winning formula Biotechnology YES: Being ...

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Feb 12, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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Biotechnology YES:
Being entrepreneurial – Aviaclean –
hard work, but it can be fun a winning formula
John Peberdy Microbiology Today Editor Gavin Thomas interviewed the winners of
the 2002 Biotechnology YES scheme from the University of York.
PhD and post- of bioluminescence emitted from soil bacteria. He is now The imaginary company the team created, Aviaclean, head of BBSRC, Julia
Exploiting microbes
specialized in using bacteria to clean up bird waste from Goodfellow. The judges
doctoral scientists a stalwart of the Scheme and a frequent speaker, and says
can be highly
monuments, buildings and public spaces. The team were very critical and
can learn how to of YES ‘Research Institutes and Universities across the UK are
lucrative. John
comprised five second year PhD students in the Biologyuncompromising, and
make money out of simply oozing with creative, energetic young scientists and it only
Peberdy describes Department: Jemma Jowett, Julie Richards (JR), Graeme focused on weaknesses
microbes by participating takes a few of these to discover their hidden talents and awaken
Park (GP), Simon Chandler (SC) and Alex Venn. they thought existed in
a scheme to teach
in the Biotechnology their passion for entrepreneurship through the YES scheme’.
each team and how much
The members of the team had heard about the scheme
young scientists
Young Entrepreneur’s Other companies that participants have developed are in the team really believed in
from flyers and lab colleagues who had entered previous-
some of the
their idea. However, the
Scheme (YES). If you are the disease diagnostic field and in plant biotechnology.
ly. They decided it would be a good chance to experience
York students managed to
necessary skills
unaware of this Scheme, For many other participants, taking part in YES provides
what went on in a biotechnology company.
hold together as a team
to become an
then you are one of a awareness of career opportunities outside of the lab. It is
‘It looked like being fun – and will look good on our during the questioning.
entrepreneur. decreasing minority. It interesting to learn that many practitioners in intellectual
CVs! ’ GP
‘It was quite shocking
is in its seventh year property, venture capital, marketing, and business
The first thing the team needed to do was to come up with
quite how nasty some
and its popularity grows development have a background in the biosciences. Polly
an idea, which was inspired by working in York. The large of the questions
with ‘age’. So what Todd of Oakland Ventures told us ‘the competition not only
bird population living on the lake results in serious deposi-
were. Some totally
is Biotechnology YES? gave me a good grounding in a variety of skills that were necessary
tion of guano on the campus. undermined people’s
Simply it is a competition, for getting into the biotechnology business, such as an introduction
projects. ’ GP
‘There were products on the market to kill fungi and
but more importantly a to intellectual property and patents, but also the confidence to feel
also to clean up bird waste, and we were looking to
After surviving the panel,
learning experience, for that I could get out there and do something myself’.
combine the two. ’ JR the team was named
PhD students and post- You can learn more about Biotechnology YES and see
winner and collected the
Once they had the idea, they chose their roles within the
trophy and prize of £1,000.
doctoral bioscientists to gain an understanding of technologies, strategies for technology development some of the ideas that past teams have presented at our
team, which were managing director, marketing director,
the processes involved in the commercialization of the and commercialization, sources of and the staging of website (www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk). Registration
R&D director, strategy director and financial director. Reflecting on the scheme,
biosciences and biotechnology. It is of interest therefore finance to achieve commercialization, the operation of for the 2004 competition will open in April; however,
they were convinced that
The team attended the briefing workshop, which proved to
using a microbiologically
to microbiologists from all aspects of the subject. biotech companies and relevant case studies of biotech expressions of interest can be sent now to tracey@
be very useful, and then started developing their idea for
based project was impor-
Biotechnology YES was launched in 1996 and involves enterprises at different stages of development. biotechnologyyes.co.uk
the regional workshop. They researched on the internet
tant.
a partnership of the University of Nottingham and the The knowledge gained from these presentations and spoke to existing companies, academics within the
Biology Department and experts from the university ‘I think one of the
BBSRC, with the support of several other sponsors. provides the basis for the true YES learning experience. The author thanks Simon Mosey and Tracey Hassall-Jones
involved directly in bio-enterprise. At the regional work-
reasons we did so
Participants are required to develop an idea, based The serious work for the participants begins when for their advice and helpful comments. Other sponsors of the
shop they were glad they had their full complement of five well with microbiology
on real science and technology, for an imaginary they adjourn to their assigned syndicate rooms and start Scheme are MRC, NERC, Gatsby Foundation, Cancer
team members as there were specific talks for each
was that a lot of
business, and to show the start and development of the developing their plan. Help is on hand from expert Research UK, Syngenta, Eric Potter Clarkson and Cyberscience
aspect of the company and each person could focus on the teams chose to
business through the presentation of a business plan. mentors to see them through. The plan is very much the Systems.
their individual role. The expert help available was
market something
Working teams of four or five students are formed in work of the participants as mentors often raise questions
important in developing the product and influenced medical. The judges
their business plan.
schools, departments or laboratories in universities that require serious thought or suggest different Professor John Peberdy MBE was Professor liked the simplicity
of our idea and the
throughout the country, and there is competition for the approaches to a problem calling for difficult decisions to of Microbial Biotechnology in the School of Life
TOP RIGHT:
‘What we came up with before got completely
fact that it would
University of York – winners in
places for 36 teams. be made by the team. The learning is truly experiential! and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham
changed! ’ SC
deliver returns in a
2002.
This is reflected in a comment by one of the participants University. Since 1999 he was also Director of
Being realistic about the process was an important factor
few years rather than
Getting trained in the 2002 competition – ‘I still remembered it weeks later, Curriculum Development at the University of
and the group found themselves scaling down their ideas
having to wait for
BELOW:
So how is the learning experience delivered? The Scheme whereas after my exams the information was lost’. Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation
to a few key products.
Tim Hart awarding the best clinical trials. ’ GP
presenter prize. begins with a briefing session held several weeks in The climax of the workshop on the final day involves (UNIEI). He is now retired and is Emeritus
The competition was judged by the team’s presentation
The team was unanimous
advance of the workshops presentations by the participants to panels of hypothetical Professor in Residence at UNIEI.
on the final day and the team had done some extra prep-
that it was a worthwhile
where participants are investors – these panels are again made up of the range
aration for this even before coming to the workshop. With
and fun experience and
money from the Biology Graduate School they paid for a
advised of the initial of practitioners that one would meet in presentations to has changed the way they
short animation to be made illustrating how their products
think about bio-enterprise.
work required before the venture capitalists. Two winning teams emerge from
could be used in the marketplace and also designed a
They enjoyed the team-
competition starts. Three each workshop and go through to a final held in London
logo and produced company name badges. They split the
work aspect and having the
regional workshops follow in December. At this event the overall winning team
20-minute talk among the members of the team.
opportunity to speak to
at which practitioners receives a prize of £1,000.
people who had actually
‘The structure was that Simon started as the MD,
share their knowledge
started their own comp-
then Jemma talked about the research, Alex talked
and experience with the Success stories
anies. Also, the fact that
about marketing, Julie about strategy, Graham on
they did so well was a
participants. Each work- Whilst our mission is to provide the learning experience
finance and then finally Simon to summarize. ’ SC
bonus.
shop runs over 3 days described in this article, it is not surprising that
Presenting their ideas to the judges was quite daunting as
during October and participation in Biotechnology YES awakens the
‘Winning was my
they asked very difficult questions, but the team felt they
favourite part of the
November. On the first entrepreneurial spirit in some of the participants to the
had done well and were selected to go forward to the
process. ’ JR
day a programme of extent that they go ahead and start a business. Dr Tim
finals.
talks introduces the key Hart, the Managing Director of Cybersense Systems
They used the time before the finals to hone their
issues, intellectual property based in Oxford, is one such example. Tim’s business has
presentation and increase their background knowledge
rights, an understanding a microbiological connection in that the underlying
before heading down to the DTI in London to present
of the market(s) for new technology of the company involves the measurement their case to a panel of three venture capitalists and
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