January 3, 2022, by Communications

UNM team makes it to the finals of the Young Entrepreneur Scheme competition

Team SCIONEO from the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) made it to the finals of the Malaysian Young Entrepreneur Scheme (YES) 2021, in its inaugural year running in Malaysia, this innovative global competition was developed to raise awareness among early career researchers (ECRs) about how ideas can be commercialised.

The team comprised Hina Kamal, PhD Bioscience; Aiman Syahmi Bin Mansol, PhD Bioscience; Lamia Noushin Sadeque Chowdhury, MPhil Pharmacy; Tan Guang Heng, PhD Bioscience; and Maisarah Mohd Mazlan, UNM alumna and current master’s student at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

For the past 26 years, YES has truly impacted global entrepreneurship not only by conducting and innovating learning activities across borders but also through over 6,000 alumni going on to share know-how and develop new ventures worldwide. In 2021 the Association of Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI), and the University of Nottingham Malaysia organised and conducted the inaugral YES competition run in Malaysia.

Teams are made up of ECRs who deploy novel science and engineering ideas to address societal challenges such as the ageing population, sustainable food production, global warming and driverless cars. They then develop a business plan for a start-up company based on a hypothetical but plausible idea during an intense three-day workshop.

Team SCIONEO proposed an eco-friendly desiccant (anti-humidifier) from eggshells – an initiative that is in reference to Malaysia’s COP26 agenda of reducing methane emissions.

Food waste is a global phenomenon, which has a chain impact. For instance, in Malaysia, an average 17,000 tonnes of food waste is generated on a daily basis with only 20 percent being composted leaving 80 percent in the landfills.

The overfilling of the landfills has impacted the environment negatively with high emissions of methane.

On average 850,000 tonnes of eggs are produced annually in Malaysia, which correlates directly to the generation of egg shell waste. Egg shells contain calcium carbonate which can be converted into calcium chloride (a desiccant/dehumidifier).

Although the idea of desiccant is not unknown but according to the team’s market research,  the global dehumidifier market size values at USD3.5 billion with a projected growth of 7 percent in the coming five to six years. This highlights the demand in a tropical country like Malaysia.

“For this competition, we had to step outside our comfort zones and learn the commercial aspects of the same scientific concepts. At the start, it was overwhelming to view the science of a mere idea from finance, marketing and commercial standpoints, but soon we understood that the execution of the idea is the real game changer. We participated alongside 12 teams during the finals on 3 December 2021 and were selected as among the top 4 finalists. Although we did not win the finals, there were so many positives to take from this competition for both personal and professional growth,” said Hina.

Dr Georgina Marsh, from the University of Nottingham (YES21 programme manager and UNM YES representative) said, “I was extremely proud of the accomplishments of SCIONEO, as one of the first Malaysian teams to be chosen as YES finalists and whose idea was testament to the forward-thinking nature of our ECRs at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. I really feel that SCIONEO and all the other teams involved really embraced the ethos of the competition learning a lot from the experience regarding commercialisation, but also making the most of the chance to meet like-minded students from a range of different Universities, as well as professional mentors and experienced entrepreneurs, even when conducted virtually. Well done SCIONEO and all the teams of YES21MY!”

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