Tim Hart – Cybersense Biosystems
Cybersense Biosystems was incorporated in April 2001 and received its first seed capital investment from the University of Surrey Seed Fund in September 2001, which, together with a DTI Smart award, enabled the company to design its first prototype. Cybersense is currently located in Oxford and develops biosensors for industrial applications. The company’s first product is a portable system using bioluminescent bacteria for detection of the toxicity of contaminated land. This technology allows land owners/developers, environmental consultants and industrialists to rapidly assess the toxicity of contaminated land and relate this toxicity to pollutant trigger values.
Cybersense Biosystems was founded by Dr Tim Hart who is also Managing Director. Tim is joined by two non-executive Directors, Professors Stephan Jefferis and Chris Knowles from the Universities of Surrey and Oxford, respectively, together with a full-time researcher and associated scientific consultants. Tim has had a fairly long association with the YES Scheme, first participating in pilot competitions, then in 1997 as a competitor in the national scheme and now as a speaker and keen promoter of YES. Tim believes YES is crucial to the development of young scientists in academia today. The scheme provides them with a unique opportunity to become involved with science outside the laboratory and introduce new ideas for careers in different areas. Tim believes that research institutes and universities across the UK are simply oozing with creative, energetic young scientists. It only takes a few of these to discover their hidden talents and awaken their passion for entrepreneurship through the YES scheme, to significantly enhance the commercialisation of biotechnology for the UK economy. Tim adds ‘Wherever the high-flying biotech entrepreneurs are for the future, the YES scheme should be picking them up and giving them their first taste of biobusiness’.
Tim admits he is now well and truly hooked on entrepreneurship. ‘It’s a pretty stressful hand-to-mouth existence’. So much happens is so short a space of time, weeks seem like months, and years; a lifetime. It can be tougher than you think, but the rewards, satisfaction and enjoyment go beyond your expectations.
But, Tim stresses, to catch entrepreneurs of the future is not the only objective of YES. The overall training in the commercialisation of science, opportunities to explore careers outside academia and experiences gained in team-working are invaluable for everyone’s future career.
Cybersense is now in month nine from start-up funding and Tim believes the company has outperformed at least his expectations for this phase. But, this has to be the case in the current difficult investment market, where only the strongest and most advanced business propositions are likely to attract future financing. Tim summarises his experiences in entrepreneurship to date as ‘exhilarating and all-consuming. Its not so much of a job, more a lifestyle’.