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A Cambridge-based team has won the top prize at Biotechnology YES, an innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of ideas among early career researchers.
The team behind the ‘Calvitium Solutions’ business idea was awarded top prize in the annual national contest, co-organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI). The event was held earlier this week in London.
Team members Ajoeb Baridi, Alap Chavda, Anastasiia Kamenska, Liam Hurst and Linsey Porter, all Cambridge PhD students, won the competition with their idea for a hypothetical hair loss prevention product.
The participants in this competition have shown that there is a bright future ahead for biological science. They are developing the skills needed to translate world class research into wider economic and social benefits.David Willetts
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said, “The participants in this competition have shown that there is a bright future ahead for biological science. This is one of the most vibrant and increasingly important sectors of the UK. They are developing the skills needed to translate world class research into wider economic and social benefits.”
The competition, now in its 17th year, sees postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in the life sciences develop business plans for plausible biotechnology companies. They receive help and advice from speakers, mentors and judges in areas such as intellectual property, financial planning and marketing.
The team members assume the roles of directors of their company and seek funding for their business plan from a group of “equity investors” – drawn from science and industry. The hypothetical companies compete against each other and during the process participants gain valuable knowledge and skills about entrepreneurship, the world of business and commercialisation, in addition to transferable skills such as team working and time management.
“To win feels quite amazing, we certainly worked hard,” said team member Alap Chavda. “We knew it would be a tough competition.
“The main purpose was to experience the commercialisation process. We tend to just think about science really and not about money, it was quite a different world we actually experienced. It’s given us a real knowledge about how it works.
“The experience is absolutely worth it, not only for those who want to go into business but having experienced that different world people can make a better choice for future careers.”
The five members of Calvitium Solutions came top of the 377 competitors across 82 teams in five regional workshops held in October and November. Past entrants of the competition have gone on to form successful companies, develop business ideas and work in industry, as well as pursue research careers.
Competition judge Dr Andy Richards, a Cambridge serial biotechnology entrepreneur and investor, said, “We have already seen that the programme is generating some of our biotechnology leaders of the future, and looking at the teams here today, that will continue.”
Photo credit: Tim Gander