Postgraduate student entrepreneurs win national business plan competition

Posted by ap507 at Dec 10, 2014 10:50 AM |
Top prize for ‘uncaffeinated coffee’ pitch devised by University team
Postgraduate student entrepreneurs win national business plan competition

BiotechYES 2014 winners SenzaSeeds Leicester: (L-R) Zoe Stephenson (CEO), Joana Dos Santos (Marketing Manager), Usha Aryal (Chief Financial Officer), Munisha Devi (Operations Director) and Ricky Trigg (Chief Scientific Officer). Credit: Max Alexander

A team of five PhD students from the University has claimed top spot in the national Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs’ Scheme competition (Biotechnology YES).

The team impressed a panel of industry experts with their plan to launch SenzaSeeds, a new business based around technology that enables the world’s first wholly uncaffeinated coffee - naturally uncaffeinated beans that replace the need for any decaffeination process.

SenzaSeeds overcame fierce competition from 11 other finalists, each of which were winners of their regional heats.

The team consisted of Zoe Stephenson from the MRC Toxicology Unit, as SenzaSeeds’s CEO; Munisha Devi from the MRC Toxicology Unit, as Operations Director; Joana Dos Santos from the Department of Genetics, as Marketing Manager; Usha Aryal from the Department of Genetics, as Chief Financial Officer; and Ricky Trigg from the Department of Cancer Studies, as Chief Scientific Officer.

Biotechnology YES is an innovative national competition designed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among early career researchers. Teams of scientists come together to develop and present a 'Dragons’ Den'-style business pitch for start-up company investment, based around an 'imaginary' scientific discovery.

The team will go on to compete with representatives from over 40 other countries at the 2015 Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, Texas.