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UEA students win Young Entrepreneurs Scheme competition

A team of Pharmacy PhD students from the UEA has won both the Biotechnology YES Prize and People’s Choice Award at the national Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition final hosted by 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, came up with a way to improve heart transplant procedures by cryopreserving them and then “reanimating” them back to a viable state. Cryopreserving is a way of freezing something without causing it damage so it can be restored and reused, a process that would allow for extended heart storage times and improved post-transplantation outcomes for patients.  

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 a financial strategy, IP strategy and marketing. They won £2,500, a trophy and invitations to the BioIndustry Association’s gala dinner.  

Lucka Bibic, CEO at CyroThaw, said: “I am so delighted for the whole team, the success of CyroThaw 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.”  

Another Norwich Research Park (NRP) team, Active Plant Protection, were also successful at the final as team member Sophie Harrington won the Best Presenter Award.    

Dr Karen Smith, Relationship Manager for Medical & Life Sciences at UEA said: “I really enjoyed working as the YES mentor this year for both UEA and the NRP. 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.”