BioTech YES competition: DiMeN team in the final
Thanks to flexible funding, we were able to enter the YES21 competition as the Sheffield/Newcastle YES team. Flexible funding covered our entry fees, and also allowed us to travel for the competition – Becky came to Sheffield for the 3-day workshop, and Jess and Holly travelled to Newcastle for the competition final. Despite the competition itself being online, our team were able to meet up and book a room to work together – which hugely aided teamwork and made the experience super enjoyable! Being able to work together was really beneficial in allowing us to put together our pitch. The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES!) competition is a competition to teach awareness of commercialising ideas in science, where teams come up with an idea and pitch a business plan to a panel of experts, ultimately with the chance to win cash prizes. YES21 consisted of 3 stages – the pre-workshop phase, the 3-day workshop, and (since we were lucky enough to get through) – the competition final.
We started out by getting our team together over summer, and secured funding to enter the competition. After our application was sent, we met online to discuss ideas. Interspersed in the first few months were “stepping out” talks – seminars from experts giving background on a range of topics, such as gaining funding, finance, patenting and business models. None of us has done anything like this before, so we learnt a lot about how businesses work. It was really refreshing to learn about something different, that we hadn’t paid much attention to before.
The 3 day workshop consisted of two intense days filled with informative talks, fast-ball tasks (in the form of an elevator pitch), and a lot of pitch preparation for the competition itself. Thanks to flexible funding, we were able to do the workshop all together in Sheffield. Being able to brainstorm, and work together in person was really beneficial to us as a team, as it helped us to further build on our pitch idea, and really helped cement the team bonds we had formed during our zoom meetings prior.
Over the course of the workshop, the team transformed our scientific idea - a probiotic to combat vaginal dysbiosis - into a detailed business plan: from investments and funding, through to marketing and sales. As scientists, it was challenging to step outside of our comfort zone to think about the commercialisation of our research - however, once over the initial hurdle, we were amazed at how in depth our knowledge had become.
After delivering our pitch, we were delighted to be announced as the winners of our stream and receive an invite to the YES21 final - bringing together select teams from the Biotechnology, Environmental and Engineering streams. With over a month to prepare, we were able to brush up on the areas of our business plan we had not been able to cover in detail during the first workshop - completing more market research, meeting with financial advisors and extending the forecasting of our company. Our challenge was to condense our presentation even further - making sure to maintain the impact of our business strategy - while delving into the details of our commercial plans to prepare for the questioning of the judges.
And, finally, after all of our hard work, the final arrived. We were once again able to meet to work on our final pitch together (this time in Newcastle) and share our presentation with the YES21 community - and, thanks to the support of our peers, the DiMeN community too. As a team, we were truly, incredibly proud of how much we had learned during this experience - we had gone from having very little business awareness, to talking about the details of market analysis and forecasting over lunch! Although we weren’t lucky enough to be acknowledged in the prizes, we received excellent feedback from judges and mentors - as well as having a truly great experience together as a team!
Thank you to all at DiMeN for making our YES21 experience what it was. Without flexible funding we would not have been able to participate in this prestigious competition. Flexible funding allowed us to come together as a team, and enriched our experience so much more. After the last two years of online sessions, the DiMeN flexible funding allowed us to regain a sense of normality. ,
Type: Flexible Funding award