Students reach finals of national business competition

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The Glasgow University team will be in the December 5 final in London (Picture by Diliff)

A TEAM of University of Glasgow PhD students are in the running to win a national biotechnology entrepreneurship competition.

The students, from the University’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, will attend the final of the Biotechnology YES competition in London on Monday 5 December.

Biotechnology YES invites teams from universities across the UK to develop and present plans for hypothetical biotechnology businesses. The competition, now in its 16th year, helps researchers gain an understanding of business and aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture for the benefit of the UK economy.

Postgraduate students Jacob Griffin, Faye McLeod, Rhiannon Thompson and Miranda Willis, trading under the name ‘Cyan’, will attend the event and present their business plan in competition against 11 other teams.

Their business plan involves an innovative product called SpirulFeeder which provides a cheaper, healthier food additive for use in livestock farming.

Rhiannon said: “Until recently, farmers relied largely on an antibiotic additive to promote their animals’ growth and boost disease resistance. That substance is now banned and the additives which have replaced it have proved to be much less effective. Reduced growth rates and increased animal mortality rates have had a negative effect on the profitability of many farms.

“Our patented Spirul Feeder is a novel strain of blue-green algae which can be added to feed to improve animals’ immune systems. It has a similar effect to the banned substance but is totally natural. It will also help to save farmers money by eliminating the need for them to buy additional protein supplements because it has a high protein content in its own right.

“We’re really pleased to have made it to the finals of the Biotechnology YES competition. We have worked really hard and though the competition is of a high standard, hopefully we have a good chance of taking the top prize.

“Participating in the competition has been intense, particularly considering the workload we already have as postgraduate students, but it’s really been worth it. We’ve all gained an insight into how successful businesses are organised and operated, which will be invaluable once our PhDs are completed and we move into full-time research work.”

Biotechnology YES is organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and theUniversityofNottinghamInstitute forEnterpriseand Innovation (UNIEI). The final of the competition will be held on Monday 5 December at the London Marriott County Hall.

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