Countdown to riches

March 19, 1999

UK bioscientists have ten more days to come up with the beginnings of the business idea of the decade - and win Pounds 20,000 to boot.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council have joined forces for the UK's first business plan competition. With technology transfer and commercialising research on everyone's lips, the councils have dreamt up the world's first purely biosciences competition.

On offer for everyone who registers for the competition are free overnight courses on business plan writing and commercialisation. People need to register by the end of the month, and initial plans must be submitted by the end of May.

Twenty winning teams will then be offered individual mentoring as they build their business case. The overall winners should be announced by the end of the year. There is Pounds 20,000 for the top team, and two Pounds 10,000 prizes for the runners-up.

"People were telling us they had ideas for new businesses, but needed help to take them forward," said Karen Lewis, who is co-ordinating the scheme for the BBSRC.

She said the aim of the competition was to offer assistance through courses and mentoring, but also to find new exciting ideas that can be transformed into businesses.

With ten days to go until registration closes, there have been 12 confirmed entries, but 300 requests for information. "The reaction we are getting is huge," Dr Lewis said. The competition is open to anyone at universities or BBSRC institutes working in the biosciences. Entries can come from everyone, from students to professors, and team entries are being encouraged.

As for confidentiality, the organisers say this is one of their key considerations and everyone involved will sign a non-disclosure agreement.

* Anyone interested in registering before the March 31 deadline can download a registration form from www. bbsrc.ac.uk/opennet/bpc.html, or ring the Business and Innovation Unit at the BBSRC on 01793 4135.

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