A team of PhD students from the Institute have won the national BioTechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) competition, a life sciences innovation competition with similarities to the popular entrepreneurial TV show ‘Dragon’s Den’. The competition aims to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience among early career researchers.
The members of Team BeEco – Lina Dobnikar, Natasha Morgan, Michiel Thiecke and Rachael Huntly (shown left-right above) – used their combined innovation skills to develop a hypothetical but feasible commercial proposal to overcome a parasite that has been identified as a major cause of colony collapse disorder. Infection of a colony by this mite represents a major threat to the honey bee population and industries such as honey production and agricultural pollination services. Recognising challenges to current treatments against the parasitic mite, the team developed the idea of using a chemoattractant to lure the mites away from the bees, allowing their removal from the hive.
Recounting their experience as a group, Lina, Natasha, Michiel and Rachael shared their experiences of developing their proposal, what they’d learnt at the residential workshop and finally, about winning. They said: “We learnt a lot about what needs to be undertaken to develop an idea to create a viable commercial opportunity. There was a lot we didn’t know about the patenting process and what investors are looking for. As a team, we found that meeting the mentors at the October workshop was a key highlight as they had so many interesting and valuable insights. Also, our meetings with previous Biotechnology YES participants from the Institute were very useful and we would like to thank everyone who helped us.”
Focusing on their experience of taking part in the final, the team said: “We are extremely happy to win against such a high standard of other teams. It was an honour to just present at the event at the Royal Society. The win was an unexpected shock and wonderful surprise but even without winning, we feel really privileged just to have taken part.”
Congratulating the team, Professor Michael Wakelam, Institute Director, said: “The Institute is dedicated to providing an environment that fosters innovation. The achievement of Lina, Natasha, Michiel and Rachael shows that this entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our researchers from the earliest stages of their careers. The team showed exceptional dedication to developing their BioTechnology YES proposal and their success is richly deserved. I’m sure that this bodes well for each of their futures and the Institute looks forward to supporting them in reaching their full potential as they complete their PhD studies in the next few years.”
The 2016 BioTechnology YES winners, Team BeECO, at the competition final held at the Royal Society.
09 December 2016