Entrepreneurial students win national award with ingenious business plans
Two teams of researchers and technicians who were mentored by the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) have swept the board at the final of the annual Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition.
The teams, made up of students and technicians from the University of Reading’s Pharmacy and Food & Nutritional Sciences departments, developed ideas for ground-breaking products and were mentored in ways to present and pitch their ideas.
The two teams – AlgaeMino and MindX Lab – ultimately swept the board at the competition, picking up best finance, best intellectual property and the People’s Choice award, with AlgaeMino winning the overall competition.
Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, said:
“AlgaeMino and MindX Lab performed superbly, and we are so proud of their achievements. It was a real pleasure to be part of their journey, guiding them to build their businesses and ultimately success in the final winning the best overall and peoples’ choice categories.
“Congratulations to the two teams and a massive thank you to all who supported them.”
AlgaeMino team leader, Pradeep Vijaya Kumar said:
“YES turned out to be a remarkable adventure and winning the finals was the happiest moment for all of us.
“We brainstormed ideas to find one we were excited to work with, and then implemented advice received from our brilliant mentors, all in a short time.
“This has given us confidence in handling the presentation of ideas to any audience. We’ve gained valuable skills applicable for any career path we might take in the future.”
MindX Lab worked on the idea that medications could be delivered via a film patch that is absorbed in the mouth. They explained that this offers both an improvement in the side effects from medications and is more environmentally sustainable than traditional tablets and capsules.
Team leader, Saumya Sood said:
“YES has been an exceptional experience! We stepped out of our comfort zones to achieve something that was out of reach until we received mentoring, as part of the competition. It was a great learning opportunity on how we might translate research into marketable products.
“Ultimately, we have opened paths for our futures, through the amazing networks we’ve built. We are proud to have come this far, to deliver a winning pitch at the National Finals.”
YES has been running for 27 years, training more than 6,000 researchers, with the aim of preparing scientists and engineers for future business endeavours. Teams are encouraged to take novel science and engineering ideas to address the big challenges we face, such as healthy ageing, food security, and climate change. From their idea, they are mentored – including, in the case of University of Reading, by the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and the University of Reading’s Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence – to develop a business plan for their imagined start-up company.
Team AlgaeMino are: Ross Wilson (Technical Services) and PhD students Pradeep Vijaya Kumar (Pharmacy) and Hannah Thomas, Roisin McCarron and Patricia Sanz (Food & Nutritional Sciences).
Team MindX Lab are: PhD students from the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Saumya Sood, Dimitra Zannidi, Choshani Dalukdeniya, Nick Giannoulis and Chara Tsagkaropolou