PhD students from the MRC PPU took part in the Biotechnology YES 2018 entrepreneurial competition last week. Luke Fulcher (Sapkota lab), Lambert Montava Garriga (Ganley lab), Maria Zachari (Ganley lab) and Marianna Longo (Ganley lab) formed the team “AllerTek” which sought to combat the presence of food allergens in meals.
The biotechnology YES competition allows PhD students from across the UK to compete against each other with their ideas in a “dragons den” style pitch to secure theoretical funding for their innovation.
Whilst the scientific concept behind the idea needs to be plausible and address an unmet need in the biomedical sector, the major focus is on the business plan and marketing strategy. During the course of the workshop held between GSK and the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst (SBC) competing teams learnt about intellectual property, managing finances, marketing and commercialisation. They also got to meet with mentors who work in these respective fields to discuss and build on their ideas. These activities ultimately lead to the pitching of the idea to a panel of experts, who judge it on several criteria including the business plan, numbers involved, feasibility of the idea, and the pitch itself.
Team member Luke Fulcher said, “We learned a lot during the workshop and it was very useful to get some insight into the work involved in launching a biomedical business. Our team “AllerTek” gave a pitch about an innovative fork, called the “AllerFork”, that flashes red if it comes into contact with the allergen of interest. We chose peanut allergens for the start of the business. Unfortunately, we did not win but we came third in the “elevator pitch” exercise which was a one minute pitch to summarise your idea at the start of the workshop, so that’s something to take away!”