Four teams gave a business plan presentation for a hypothetical bioscience start-up company seeking equity investment. They thought creatively and impressively pitched innovative solutions to major challenges. The companies taking part were:
Enviromelt a film to be applied to road surfaces in which microbes, when it snows, start melting the snow instantly. The team claimed it reduces the costs of salt-spraying and snow removal, is faster than conventional methods and durable.
BuildAlive a recycling of green waste which is separated to produce compost and insulation bricks. Bricks and compost can be applied to roofs to insulate and produce a green cover. They claimed it is environmentally friendly, reduces costs such as heating and provides a useful and visible way to reuse our waste.
Fresh X a device to test the freshness of meat. A membrane with specific antibodies is inserted into meat and gives a reading, much like a pregnancy test, informing the user whether the meat is still edible or not. They claimed it reduces food waste and prevents illnesses due to meat that has gone off.
Joule-bio a novel battery for phones based on a microbe modified to produce joules/energy. They claimed the technology solves the problem of running out of phone power as it does not require recharging.
The students then faced tough questions on the science, IP and patenting, raising finance and commercial and marketing strategies.
And the winner by just a small margin, was Enviromelt
The competition was a mock BioTech YES, an innovative national competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among early career researchers.
The students came from universities in the UK, USA, Canada, Romania, Italy, Bulgaria, Ireland, India, Sweden, Malaysia and the Ukraine. Lucy was the only non-scientist on the panel. She was joined by Dr Kenny Lang, Norwich Research Park, Prof Alison Smith, John Innes Centre and Dr Martin Stocks, Plant Biosciences Ltd.