University of Dundee

PhD students reach the finals of the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme 2021

06 Dec 2021

Three PhD students from the MRC PPU have successfully made It through to the final round of the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES). Ailsa Black (Rousseau lab), Bill Carton (Sapkota lab) and Lee Armstrong (Kulathu lab) took part as team “Affinitas Biosciences Ltd” with their idea to supplement a chewing gum with a nanobody that specifically targets and inhibits tooth decaying bacteria.

The biotechnology YES competition allows PhD students from across the UK to compete against each other with their ideas in a “Dragons’ Den” style pitch to secure theoretical funding for their innovation.

Whilst the scientific concept behind the idea needs to be feasible and address an unmet need in the biomedical sector, the major focus is on the business plan and marketing strategy. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition took place remotely this year. During the online workshop, competing teams learnt about intellectual property, managing finances, marketing and commercialisation. They also got to meet with mentors who work in these respective fields to discuss and build on their ideas. These activities ultimately lead to the pitching of the idea to a panel of experts, who judge it on several criteria including the business plan, numbers involved, feasibility of the idea, and the pitch itself.

Team member Lee said “We’re absolutely delighted to get through to the finals! We got such great insights into the commercialisation of science from some really passionate mentors.” and Bill added “It’s been a fantastic experience so far and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into the next stages”. Ailsa said, “The judges really grilled us, and we were up against some stiff competition, so we are thrilled to make it through”.

The team will now progress to the finals in January 2022 in which they have to prepare a written business plan followed by another presentation to a panel of judges.

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