April 8, 2021, by Susan Lim

Young Entrepreneurs Scheme 2020 (YES20)

A group of students from the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM), Nurul Syahirah Mat Aron, Muhammad Azamuddeen Mohammad Nasir, Aarvin Ratnam, Chen Hui Ling (Kitty), and Sharun Beream Nasir were shortlisted as one of the two teams to represent Malaysia in the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme 2020 (YES20). This is the first time teams from Malaysia have been selected to participate in this competition.

With a total of over 6000 competing participants, YES is a global competition hosted by the United Kingdom (UK). It is introduced to raise awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers on how ideas from science and engineering can be deployed to address societal challenges in a sustainable manner and at the same time be commercialisable.

Participating teams were required to develop a business plan as a start-up company, based on a hypothetical yet plausible idea.

Due to the global pandemic, YES20 was held via Microsoft Teams encompassing the competition day and three days of intense workshops with presentations and mentoring sessions from leading figures in industry and academics who have proven track records of professional success. The whole journey has been a very enlightening and eye-opening experience for them – “We are a group of Environmental Science students, we have never worked or explored the idea of entrepreneurship, and therefore we think this competition is a good opportunity for us to pick up new skills”.

The UNM team participated in the intense mentor-mentee sessions from March 10th – 12th,  2021 (5 PM – 2 AM), in preparation to pitch their ideas to investors. This year’s theme was on improving crop productivity, and they have come up with an advanced yet simple tool to measure soil macronutrients needed for plant growth, in the light of food production and security. Their developed business plan has been pitched during the competition for potential investments.

Coming from a scientific background, the UNM team managed to advance to the regionals despite it being challenging to grasp a great deal of business fundamentals in such a short amount of time. Along with the development of a scientific idea, the team had also established a start-up company for the competition where each of them learned the role and responsibility of a company’s board members (i.e. CEO, CFO, CSO, CMO, COO) – “Overall, we learned how to put science into action in the best way and had the opportunity to learn from some of the best people in the field.”

Dr Georgina Marsh, School of Pharmacy, acted as a pre-competition mentor, and would like to congratulate the team for their historic success of representing Malaysia for the first time in this competition, and would like to wish them all the best in the future.

Based on the success of this year’s competition, a Malaysian round of the competition will take place as part of YES2021, for more information about entering please visit https://www.asti.org.my/yes/

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