UEA students win Young Entrepreneurs Scheme competition
Pictured: Winning team CryoThaw, from left Oliver Cartwright, Lucka Bibic, Mahmoud Abdelhamid and Sam Walpole.
A team of PhD students from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) School of Pharmacy has won both the Biotechnology YES Prize and People’s Choice Award at the national Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition final hosted at the Royal Society on Tuesday 12 December.
YES is designed to develop business awareness and an understanding of entrepreneurship in UK postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. This goal is achieved through a competition where the participants prepare a business plan for a hypothetical company in one of three categories, Biotechnology, Engineering and Environment.
The UEA winning team CryoThaw, made up of NRP Bioscience DTP students Lučka Bibič, Mahmoud Abdelhamid, Oliver Cartwright and Samuel Walpole, came up with a solution which allows a donated heart to be cryopreserved, stored/transported and then reanimated back to a fully functional state. Cryopreservation is a technique which involves rapidly freezing the organ, without damage to the tissue, hence extending the time it remains viable outside of the body. This would allow for more heart transplants to be carried out and also improved post-transplantation outcomes.
At the final, CyroThaw had to pitch their idea and the business plan to a panel of investors. The pitch had to address all areas of the business including financial strategy, IP strategy and marketing. They won £2,500, trophies and invitations to the BioIndustry Association’s gala dinner. For the people’s choice award they will receive corporate training provided by Indigo Business solutions.
Lucka Bibic, CEO at CryoThaw, said: “I am so delighted for the whole team, the success of CryoThaw was definitely down to our team effort. YES17 was a fantastic chance to network and a great opportunity to learn how to think like an entrepreneur. Now we can hopefully apply and further develop these skills in our future career paths.”
The Norwich Research Park Doctoral Training Partnership contributed to the financial costs, which enabled the students to participate.
Another UEA team, Active Plant Protection, were also successful at the final as team member Sophie Harrington won the Best Presenter Award. Sophie Harrington is a John Innes Centre (JIC) student who was funded through the Rotation Programme.
Karen Smith, Relationship Manager for Research and Innovation Services at UEA said: “I really enjoyed working as a YES17 mentor this year for both the UEA and Norwich Research Park teams. I am extremely proud of both the teams for making it to the final and winning prizes on the night. It is a reflection of their entrepreneurial spirit and all their hard work and enthusiasm. It is also a result of the strong focus on innovation at UEA.”