On 21-23 May 2014, a team of PhD students from the CSCT took part in Energy YES, a national competition giving students the opportunity to learn about business and entrepreneurship through mentoring, workshops and pitching a business idea to a panel of "Dragons Den" style judges. PhD student Emily Hayward brings us this description of how she and the rest of Team CSCT won the top prize.
Stephen Wood, Heather Parker, Jon Wagner, Will Mahy and myself took part in the Energy YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) competition based at Alstom’s site in Rugby. The event lasted 3 days and over this time we had the opportunity to meet students from other energy related DTCs, hear from entrepreneurs about their experience setting up an SME (small and medium enterprises) and receive mentoring from a range of business experts.
Before the event we researched areas of technology where there is a gap in the market but research to fill it is still ongoing. After looking at a number of different options we decided we would look at composite materials to make lightweight shipping containers allowing a huge reduction in fuel requirements. We got the idea from the sustainable development course we did during the MRes year and looked at plausible technologies which could be used for this.
While at the event we conducted more in depth research business plan, with the help of various mentors and came up with our company “Absol Composites” based on this. There were a lot of things we had to consider, including the scientific theory of our design, financing, marketing strategies, risk analysis and IP. Each of the presenters and mentors were very helpful and we were able to gain an insight as to how to be successful, as well as hearing of businesses which have struggled to go from the R&D to full scale production. Over the 3 days our idea began to take shape with issues we needed to consider being highlighted to us.
The competition was tough with other groups presenting very strong ideas and business cases, therefore it was a real surprise to win! It was really interesting to hear the ideas other groups had and see how they had taken on board the training we were given. Along with winning a very nice trophy, we now have the opportunity to compete in the Engineering YES final in mid-June.