Between October 7th and 9th, 2 NERC GW4 DTP teams – BPS (BioPhosphate Solutions) and RubberRecover competed in the first Environment YES heat in Nottingham and BPS managed to win a spot in the London final. The two teams conmprised of 2nd year students from across the GW4+ DTP (BPS – Moya MacDonald, James Crosby, Michael Cooper, Emily White and Serginio Remmelzwall and RubberRecover – Erik Mackie, Sara Mynott, James Duffy and Bethany Clarke) who were encouraged to enter following GW4+ DTP-organised Innovation training in January. Environment YES is a competition (run by NERC and the University of Nottingham) where early career environmental science researchers develop a business plan based on a hypothetical, but feasible, scientific idea that they pitch to a panel, including real life investors and other business experts. BPS pitched a mechanism for removing phosphate-fixing algae from water treatment tanks with the resulting algae sold as a sustainable source of high nutrient fertiliser, and RubberRecover pitched a new technology to turn waste tyres back into liquid rubber, which could then be used to make new tyres.
The team that managed to convince the panel – BPS – consisted of Moya MacDonald as Managing Director, James Crosby as Finance Director, Michael Cooper as Operations Director, Emily White as Marketing and Sales Director and Serginio Remmelzwaal as Research and Development Director. The team researched various environmental problems before deciding to propose an inexpensive method for removing polluting phosphate from waste water. The real challenge of the competition was to develop a detailed and realistic business plan, which included market analysis, cash flow forecasting, patent applications amongst other things. In two days they received a vast amount of training to understand business terminology and the complex issues that can arise when trying to develop a scientific idea for real-life use. The team said they were surprised to have won but that their late nights at the competition paid off and they now have a few months to perfect their pitch before the final in December. The competition was of a very high quality and it was unfortunate that RubberRecover got knocked out in the heat. However, we would like to wish BPS good luck in the final and good luck to our final team comprised of Rob Yarlett, Rose Willoughby, Tom Jenkins and Rebecca Perkins representing the NERC GW4+ DTP at the Bracknell heat on the 11-13 November. Good luck!!!