A team of PhD students from the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences are on their way to the final of a national enterprise competition.
Postgraduate research students Stephen Hicks, Laura Roberts-Artal, Megan Thomas and Lidong Bie won plaudits in the regional heat for their business, TERGEO. It offers a method for cleaning up soil contaminated by fuel, by using the straw from pea crops.
The students were competing in the Environment Young Entrepreneurs’ Scheme (YES) against teams from other English and Welsh universities and research institutions. The competition, a blend of the formats made popular by television shows, The Apprentice and Dragons Den, is organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to increase entrepreneurial awareness in the environmental science community.
Team member, Lidong Bie said: “I really appreciated the chance to work with our excellent team members, learning how to transform new technology into business”
Dr Heywood said: “I thoroughly enjoyed working with our Environment YES Team. They have had to take some tough decisions over the past few months determining which of their numerous business ideas was most commercially feasible. They have managed this with a high level of professionalism, camaraderie and outstanding teamwork.”
Professor George Wolff is Head of the School of the Environmental Sciences. He said: “We are really proud of the team. It just goes to show how resourceful our students are. What is most impressive is that they seem to have discovered entrepreneurial talents that they may not even have known that they have.”
High standard of business plans
Environment YES was started in 2007, based on the now well-established Biotechnology YES scheme aimed at bioscience researchers. The judges in this year’s competition described the high standard of business plans presented, some of which were of a quality expected of full-time business students.
TERGEO CEO, Stephen Hicks added: “Prior to this competition, I didn’t know about enterprise in research institutions and university spin-off businesses but the hard work was truly worth it. I think we all got a real buzz from having to think on our feet during the judges’ questions. I would really recommend the YES scheme to any early career scientists.”
The group will now compete against two other teams to become overall winners at the national final in London, on Monday 2 December.