“No-mow” grass wins top prize in young entrepreneurs competition - (2001 competition)
John Innes Centre, Norwich (above)
Overall Winners Biotechnology YES 2001
Four Norwich scientists have picked up £1,000 in prize money by winning a national competition to find the best future biotechnology entrepreneurs from UK universities and research institutes.
The scientists, all from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, beat 28 other teams to win the final of the Biotechnology YES competition, held in London yesterday (18th December, 2001).
"This is a very prestigious competition for these young entrepreneurs to win," says Professor Ray Baker, Chief Executive of the Government's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) who sponsor the competition. "They have demonstrated a flair for combining business with science, and will all be great assets to their future employers."
To win the competition, organised by the BBSRC and University of Nottingham, the team had to come up with an imaginary company based on the biology they study.
James Hadfield, Jiahui Zhu, Rachel Carol and Matthew Perry, all from John Innes, came up with the idea of a business that developed "no-mow" grass (a genetically modified grass that never needs cutting) for use on golf courses.
In their 20 minute presentation to the final judging panel, the team said they would be able to cut into a multibillion dollar world-wide market, and impressed the judges enough to win first prize against stiff competition from 5 other finalists.
Other prizes were also announced by competition sponsors. The Eric Potter Clarkson award went to the University of Edinburgh team for demonstrating the most effective strategy for defending their patent rights.
University of Edinburgh
Best Intellectual Property Strategy from Eric Potter Clarkson
Legal company Martineau Johnson also made an award for best global marketing perspective to the University of York.
University of York
Best global marketing perspective from Martineau Johnson
Tim Hart, a previous winner of the competition who now runs his own biotech company, Cybersense Biosystems Ltd., presented an additional award for the best presentation to Steve Aljawhiri from the University of Brighton.
Steve Aljawhiri, University of Brighton
Best presentation from Cybersense Biosystems Ltd
Pictures of the final are available from Andrew McLaughlin or Simon Wilde, tel: 01793 413 000, email Public.Affairs@bbsrc.ac.uk.
For team details contact Mrs Tracey Hassall-Jones, Competition Organiser, on 07956 156 629.
For background to the competition contact Professor John Peberdy, Competition Developer, University of Nottingham, on 0115 8466193 or Jamie Elliot, BBSRC, on 01793 413000.
The teams taking part in the 2001 finals were:
- BIOAIMS (University of Brighton) - a novel biodegradable soybean-based structure to support bone and skin re-growth.
- GREEN REVOLUTIONS (John Innes Centre) - a safe genetically modified grass which never needs cutting.
- STORK PHARMA (University of Leeds) - development of a bifunctional acid-sensitive target specific drug delivery system.
- BIOMINORAL (University of Edinburgh) - a signalling protein which stimulates enamel production in human teeth.
- INDITEX UK (University of York) - surgical gloves that indicate damage or latex fatigue alerting user that protection has been compromised.
- ARRAYSCREEN (University of Cambridge) - a unique genome-side analysis tool for evaluating individual genetics susceptibility to atherosclerosis.
- As well as the prize money, and the prestige of winning a national competition, the winning team have been invited to attend the Annual Gala Dinner of the BioIndustry Association, the UK's leading Association for the biotech industry.
- The ideas developed by the teams participating in Biotechnology YES build on existing technology which is in the public domain or are based on hypothetical scenarios.
Sponsors of the competition include: BBSRC, Gatsby Charitable Foundation, MRC, GlaxoWellcome, Scottish Enterprise, Apax Partners, Eric Potter Clarkson and the University of Nottingham.
The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is an innovative competition to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among undergraduate students and postgraduate students/postdoctoral scientists. The competition aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in the UK bioscience base for the benefit of the UK economy.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) channels public funds to scientists at universities and research institutes in the UK. Each year, BBSRC spends more than £220 million on research in the non-medical life sciences. BBSRC research underpins user industries including the agricultural, bioprocessing, chemical, food, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk