Contest nurses scientist tycoons

July 4, 1997

Teams from 25 universities have entered a competition to develop the entrepreneurial spirit of young scientists.

The competition is part of an initiative led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Nottingham University. Students will attend three regional weekend workshops where senior executives of pharmaceutical firms will outline the financial, legal and commercial issues involved in setting up and running a successful biotechnology venture.

In teams of five, they will apply their knowledge to develop a business plan for an imaginary biotechnology company which will then be judged by a panel of experts from industry.

The winning teams from the workshops will go forward to national finals in London in January 1998, one for undergraduates and another for postgraduates.

Universities putting forward teams include Birmingham, Cambridge, Glasgow and Leeds. Pharmaceutical firms Zeneca and Zenova, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and accountants Coopers and Lybrand are among firms sponsoring the competition.

Doug Yarrow, BBSRC's director of business and innovation, says the competition, a pilot of which was held last year, has been established to address the shortage of business skills in young scientists - a particular difficulty facing Britain's rapidly developing small and medium sized enterprises in the bioscience sector.

"The UK's research base in the biosciences is exceptionally strong and this scheme provides some of our best young scientists with training to exploit it," he says.

John Peberdy, head of life sciences at Nottingham University, says the scheme helps young scientists to become aware of the link between academia and industry, arming them with skills needed to commercialise potential scientific discoveries and technologies.

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