Last week saw the first EnergYES competition held within the rather surprisingly sunny city of Edinburgh. The EnergYES competition is based upon similar YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) competitions where postgraduate students/researchers raise their awareness of the process involved in commercialisation of research ideas by putting together a business plan for a novel research idea/service and compete against others. The Energy YES competition was specifically aimed at researchers within the Network of Energy Centres for Doctoral Training and offered teams to compete for the chance to win a cash prize of £1,000 plus the opportunity to compete in the Engineering YES final later this year.
Ten teams made up of various students from the Energy CDT network stepped up to the challenge including our very own LoLo team consisting of Alexandros Adam (UCL), James Hedger (Loughborough), Arash Beizaee (Loughborough), Ashley Morton (Loughborough) and honorary LoLo member Mark Lawson from Durham University CDT who is carrying out a PhD looking into energy demand side management with regards to distribution networks.
The event ran over three days with the first two being filled with presentations aimed at improving knowledge regarding various entrepreneurial skills before allowing time to work in individual teams for the business plan presentations. The last and final day consisted of teams presenting their business plan to a panel of judges with up to ten minutes for the judges to quiz teams relentlessly about all aspects of their proposal. The presentations given during the first two days covered the following areas;
- Business plan requirements
- Intellectual property and Patenting
- Commercial and marketing strategies
- Managing finance
These presentations were further supported with various case studies of ideas from research which had then been commercialised and the issues involved during the process. Case studies came from Aquamarine Power, Richard Irvine Sustainable Energy Ltd, MTEM Ltd, NGenTec and Phlorum. This gave teams the opportunity to relate to real life examples and identify possible pitfalls for their own ideas. This was further supported by many of the case study presenters acting as mentors during the individual team working time. Each team received 30 minute mentor sessions with three different mentors each day to give teams the opportunity to ask questions regarding their own business presentations and get some valuable feedback regarding the feasibility, the financial aspects and often the mentors picked up on areas in which the teams business plan may have overlooked.
After the first day of presentations and mentor sessions each team was asked to pick one representative to give an elevator pitch where they had to sum up their teams business idea in less than one minute. The pitches were then put up for an audience vote to decide on the overall winner. Team LoLo came out on top of the vote which helped raise the team’s determination to keep up the stellar performance for the final presentations. The last days presentations were split into two streams where a winner would be selected from each stream (both of which will go on to compete in the Engineering YES final) before a final head to head would finish the afternoon off. Although mentioned as one of the two clear favourites in stream two sadly team LoLo was pipped at the post by the Fusion CDT team who then went on to challenge the Midlands Energy Graduate school team in the head to head. After two more brilliant presentations from each team and facing another round of daunting questions from the judging panel the final winner of the first Energy YES competition was announced as the Midlands Energy Graduate school team. Well done MEGS!
Ashley Morton and the EnergYES team