Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship Support Alauna Diagnostics to Win the GSK Best Healthcare Prize

19 December 2017

Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship Support Alauna Diagnostics to Win the GSK Best Healthcare Prize

A team of University of Reading scientists mentored by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Knowledge Transfer Centre have won a GSK-sponsored award for Best Healthcare Business Plan at the recent Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition.

The YES competition, held on 12 December 2017 at the Royal Society in London, was entered by Stephanie Bull, Sophie Jégouic, James Hall, Kane McQuaid and Blessing Nwokocha, a group of postgraduate and postdoctoral scientists from the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy at the University of Reading. For their entry they created a fictional company, Alauna Diagnostics, and devised a product - a rapid diagnostic test for endometriosis, a condition affecting 10% of women globally. In addition to winning the Best Healthcare Business Plan, the Alauna Diagnostics team were also one of the runners up in the Biotechnology YES prize.

The award, sponsored by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was given to the Reading team for their impressive understanding of the healthcare industry. Dr Fiona Marston, Chief Executive Absynth Biologics and a member of the judging panel, said: “The judges were really impressed with the business proposal and its presentation by the University of Reading team. This is testament to the bright stars emanating from the University but also highlights the impact of the professional support students and researchers can receive from the University’s Knowledge Transfer Centre and Henley Business School, starting them on the road to develop good business skills alongside their scientific expertise.”

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Upon winning the award, Alauna Diagnostics team member Stephanie Bull said, “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Best Healthcare Business Plan. We have learned so much over the last few months, and this opportunity has given us an insight into how to commercialise research in our future careers, both in academia and industry. We have received so much support from the University of Reading, helping us to develop a solid business plan from our initial idea, and further refining it to become something we’re all proud of.” 

Jurek Sikorski, the Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, was glowing in his praise of the Alauna Diagnostics team. “The students worked exceptionally hard on their entry, attending several of my Business Idea Clinic sessions to fine-tune their business plan, and I’m delighted that HCfE have been able to help them on their way to this prestigious award.”

Dr Simon Cutler, Senior Business Relationship Manager at the Knowledge Transfer Centre, echoed Jurek’s sentiments. “The KTC and HCfE are proud to have mentored this team and two others and we look forward to the launch of the next YES Competition in 2018. Next time it would be great to enter not only teams into the Biotech category but also the Environment category. With sponsors such as GSK, Syngenta and Unilever lined up to host workshops, this is a great opportunity to start sowing the early seeds of the benefits of collaboration amongst our early career researchers.”

The YES scheme, now in its 22nd year of competition, sees teams composed of postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers compete to create a viable business plan for a hypothetical product that is based on real markets and financial data. The aim is to equip researchers with the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge needed to take innovative research concepts to market and to understand the benefits of collaborative partnerships.

The YES is organised by the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The University of Nottingham, sponsored by the BBSRC, NERC and MRC with significant support from industry such as GSK, P&G, Syngenta and Unilever.

For further information about the YES Competition you can visit their website here.

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If you have any questions, please contact Jurek Sikorski by email at jurek.sikorski@henley.ac.uk or by phone on +44 (0)118 378 8188.