Success in competition for aspiring entrepreneurs
A team of first and second year PhD students from the John Innes Centre has won the first round of the prestigious Biotechnology YES competition. They fought off stiff competition from 8 other teams including groups from Oxford University and Imperial College London to win the South of England workshop with their hypothetical business “Immuno-Peptech”.
Biotechnology YES, organised jointly by the Business and Innovation Unit at BBSRC and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation, is designed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among postgraduate students/postdoctoral scientists.
Their idea for a core product, Relicitin, is a novel anti-inflammatory to prevent the onset of hay fever. The idea is based around reports from the WHO that removing gut parasites including hookworm and tapeworm leads to an increase in hay fever in populations across the developing world.
The team used a protein in hookworm that is recognised by the human gut, and which mounts a defence response that also confers protection against hay fever. Using the protein as the basis of a product would provide all the benefits of hay fever prevention without the involvement of the pathogenic hookworm.
The judges were very impressed with the idea and the clear level of teamwork displayed during the final presentations to a panel of three top venture capitalists, a biotechnology equivalent of ‘Dragons Den’.
The team of Simon Lloyd (Managing Director), Stuart King (Head of Research and Development), Katharina Bulling (Marketing Manager), Sarah Shailes (Finance director) and Ruth Bryant (Director of Operations) are now set to enter the final in London on the 13th of December to compete against the best teams nationwide in front of key figures within the UKs biotechnology sector.