Veterinary team through to finals of Biotech YES competition

The Augean Technologies team

Photo credit: Tracey Hassall-Jones

A team of postgraduate students from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health have made it through to the finals of a national enterprise competition, with an idea for a novel antimicrobial product that could reduce bacterial contamination in pig farms by 45%.

The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotech YES), now in its 20th year, is an innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of science ideas among early career researchers and is a blend of the formats made popular by television shows, Dragons Den and The Apprentice.

Residential workshop

The Augean Technologies team, made up of Alexandra Royden, Emma Ormandy, Gabrielle Laing, Maria Afonso and Marisol Collins, took part in a three day residential workshop which took place from 21-23 October in Manchester.

The workshop included presentations and mentoring sessions from leading figures in industry and culminated in the presentation of a hypothetical business plan to a panel of judges from industry and academia.

Augean Technologies made a pitch for £500,000 to develop a new antimicrobial coating technology for pig farms, which could offer a self-applicable and durable alternative to repeated disinfection and washing down of pig houses.

They were chosen as finalists, alongside a team from the University of Newcastle, out of 17 groups from universities across the UK.

Eye-opening experience

Maria Afonso, a veterinarian PhD student, said: “A combination of factors were involved in our successful pitch – the fact that we are all qualified veterinary surgeons, and therefore have a good knowledge of the pig farming industry, certainly helped! But, most importantly, we worked well as a team and our skills and roles in the whole process complemented one another.

“The competition has also opened our eyes to the potential of entrepreneurship as a career option for our futures.”

The researchers received support from the University of Liverpool Biology Postgraduate Society, who organised training sessions that offered advice from the University’s Intellectual Property team, finance experts from Brabners Stuart LLP and venture capitalist Penny Attridge, as well as previous University finalists.

Augean Technologies will now go on to represent the North West at the national finals of the Biotech YES competition in London on 10 December, where they will compete for a first prize worth £10,000, including the opportunity to present their business plan to the Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas, USA.

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