PhD students win award at YES competition

A team of University of Liverpool PhD students has won an award at University of Nottingham’s Young Entrepreneur Scheme (YES) for their pitch on commercialising a new pest control which would lower crop losses in the coffee industry.

The award ceremony, which took place in December at the Royal Society in London, saw the students win in the category of ‘Best consideration of IP strategy, sponsored by Potter Clarkson’. Grace Loxley, Iris Wagner and Rosie Maher study at the Centre for Proteome Research under the supervision of Professor Rob Beynon.

Rosie Maher said: “I really enjoyed the experience – we weren’t expecting to reach the finals so to win the prize for best consideration of IP strategy was fantastic. We learned so much in such a short space of time, I would recommend the competition to anyone.”

The YES competition involves participants preparing and pitching a business plan for a hypothetical company based on real markets and financial data. YES aims to develop business awareness, understanding of entrepreneurship and encourages students to come up with innovative solutions to challenges.

The team pitched for a hypothetical £500,000 investment which would be put towards the commercialisation of an environmentally-friendly and highly specific crop pest control. The pest control combined the specific targeting power of pheromones with a slow releasing polymer technology. The pest they were targeting was one of the $100 billion coffee industry crop, Hypothenemus hampei, or the coffee berry borer, a species that causes an annual crop loss of 33%, a figure which is set to increase exponentially with climate change.

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