“The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition gives students and researchers the opportunity to learn firsthand the skills necessary to successfully launching a start-up business. There are a number of competitions with varying themes, focusing on different sectors of the life and physical science; we entered the ‘Industrial Strategy Challenges’ competition. The competition consisted of a three day workshop with mixed talks on all major aspects of forming a business, along with mentoring sessions from a range of experts. This all culminated in a competition on the final day, where all eight teams pitched their ideas and business plan to a panel of judges.
Our team represented the University of Oxford, with our the solar catalyst company SolOx. Our business plan was to license a (theoretical, but vaguely plausible) catalyst that used sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to oil in a process resembling a kind of artificial photosynthesis. The general standard of the competition was high, and there was a wide variety of ideas pitched, showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of the other competitors. However, in the end the judged selected us, along with the University of Reading, to participate in the YES final, which takes place at the Royal Society on the 12th of December. They also provided us with extensive feedback that we will be able to use to develop our idea and skills even further.
The competition was hugely insightful and we would thoroughly recommend it to any students or researchers who are interested in spin outs and entrepreneurship. The mentors in particular were very supportive and invaluable in the process of taking our idea from a couple of scribbles on a piece of paper to a well developed business plan that we could present to investors.
More information can be found on their website: http://www.yescompetitions.co.uk. We would additionally like to thank our Doctoral training Centres, supervisors and the BBSRC, for funding us and all the support they offered, as well as Oxford University Innovation.”
Joseph Bluck (SABS 2015)
Picture (Left to right):
Natasha Rhys (PostDoc – McLain Group), Tom Dixon (DPhil-McLain group), Joe Bluck (SABS CDT), Sarah-Beth Amos (BBSRC CASE studentship), Alex Skates (SABS CDT)