What happens at the workshops?
The workshop starts on a Wednesday morning with presentations by leading figures in the biotech industry introducing the most important topics to be considered when starting up a biotech company. Thursday morning comprises biotech company case histories.
After lunch on the Wednesday and Thursday each team goes to their allocated boardroom to discuss the preparation of their own business plan based on their hypothetical company. Mentors, who are experienced individuals in the key issues important to start up biotech companies, will visit the teams in their boardrooms to answer particular questions, provide advice on strategy and discuss the presentation for the business plan.
The team from the University of Durham - Company name: ‘BEST’ (Bio-Environmental Solutions and Technologies) gathering ideas for their business plan on their flipchart and starting to prepare their presentation.
The team from the University of Leeds – Company name: ‘Faversham Proteins’, discussing their business plan as a group and noting a few details on the flipchart.
A team obviously working well together from the University of Aberdeen – Company name: ‘Plasmogen’. Staying on good terms with the rest of your team throughout the workshop can sometimes prove a challenge!
The management team of a company has a strong influence on the chances of a company’s success. Equity investors want to see a highly competent management team that can work with each other effectively.
With a little help from the mentors:
The team from the University of Dundee – Company name: ‘Epique’, discussing their business plan with a mentor, Chris Corden from Business Therapies Ltd.
Each mentor will visit each of the teams for approximately 30 minutes as requested (a booking system is set up each day). They often become highly enthusiastic about the novel scientific businesses that they hear about from the teams and offer invaluable advice regarding the business plans. The mentors are always extremely generous with their time (which they kindly donate to Biotechnology YES) and will often discuss business plans over coffee and dinner!
The teams from the University of York (upper photo) – Company name: ‘Chameleon Tech’ and the University of Manchester – Company name: ‘Cristae’ (lower photo).
Time is pressing on now and the teams are getting on with preparing for their presentations in smaller groups. The teams have to prepare a presentation that briefly explains the (hypothetical) science behind their idea for a business, the target market, the company’s (hypothetical) position regarding intellectual property protection and a summary of their finances including the finance requested from the (hypothetical) equity investors, in exchange for a share of the company.
At this stage of the workshop the teams often feel the pressure as they try to pull together all the information and advice that they have gained in the last couple of days to produce a clear, realistic, exciting business plan.
Each team is allocated 15 minutes for their presentation with a further 10 minutes for questions. The teams at each workshop will be divided into two groups who will deliver their presentations to a panel of judges (or would-be investors) who will chose one team from each group to go through to the final, to be held in London in December.