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Turning research into commercial reality

Launch of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Business Plan Competition (2007/08)

The search is on for ‘would be’ entrepreneurs who want to turn their research ideas into a successful business.

The third RCUK Business Plan Competition is launched this week (Friday 1st June 2007) and is open to researchers from across the breadth of activity supported by the Research Councils (ranging from science and technology to the arts).

The competition provides researchers who have commercially viable ideas with the skills, knowledge and support needed to develop a first-rate business plan.

Minister for Science and Innovation, Malcolm Wicks, said:

“It is discovery that provides the starting point for innovation, but it is in developing the foundations for a product or service through a sound business strategy that leads to commercial success.

“These awards will help promising researchers develop the skills needed to take their ideas to the shop floor.”

All competitors will get business training and mentoring along the way and the winning team will also receive a cash prize to further their business idea. The final will be held in November 2008.

Speaking on behalf of the Research Councils UK, Professor Philip Esler said, “UK research in science, technology and the arts ranks among the highest in the world. The RCUK Business Plan Competition is an exciting way to showcase some of the most innovative research and help commercialise some of the best projects.”

Last year’s winning team Warwick Warp, a spin-out company from the University of Warwick, scooped a prize of £25,000. They developed a highly accurate fingerprint identification technology for use in personal ID cards, passports and access control systems. They are now starting their second round of fund raising to further develop the company.

The other finalists have also benefited greatly from the mentoring received during the competition and all have enjoyed further success with their business plans. Dr Valerie Ferro, leading the Strathclyde University team, said: “The data obtained in constructing the business plan was extremely useful in putting proposals to companies. We are also about to file a new patent thanks to the mentoring received whilst working on the business plan.”

Julia Short | alfa
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