Next business stars amongst Life Sciences community

Published on 1 March 2021

Scotland’s next wave of entrepreneurs have been unveiled as the University of Dundee crowned the winners of its annual competition for business concepts, some of whom come from the School.

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Thirteen enterprising students and staff members from across the University walked away with a share of a record £38,000 prize fund after the winners of Venture 2021 were announced. 

Finalists pitched their business plans to a panel of leading business innovators, watched on by a live audience that included potential investors. The showpiece event marked the culmination of the University’s annual Entrepreneurship Week, a series of workshops and lectures championing opportunities for small enterprise in Scotland. 

Brian McNicoll, Head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, said, “Once again, our Venture final has highlighted the extraordinary thriving entrepreneurial culture within the University and the dynamism of our students and staff. Our judges were incredibly impressed by the creativity and dynamism demonstrated by all of our finalists, and choosing our winners was an incredibly tough process. Our finalists can feel incredibly proud of what they have achieved, and this competition will undoubtedly help all of them in pursuing their career goals. 

“I congratulate all of our winners and look forward to seeing their exciting business concepts flourish.” 

As well as funding to help support their business proposals, all winners receive a place on Elevator’s summer business accelerator programme. The 12-week course allows start-up founders to fine tune their proposals. Winners also receive a membership for Entrepreneurial Scotland. 

The winners of Venture 2021 are: 

  • Student Award – Lauryn Pringle 
  • School of Art and Design Student Award – Glen Craig 
  • School of Life Sciences Award – Hanneke MacLaren* and Noelia Pelegrina-Hidalgo*
  • School of Medicine Award – Firas Bakri 
  • Postgraduate Researcher Award – Jordana Freemantle* and Michaela Omelkova*
  • Science and Engineering Student Award – Antonio Rodriguez 
  • Recent Graduate – Jennifer Rao-Williams and Lewis Kennedy (joint-winners) 
  • Staff Award – Dr John Foerster and Dr Helge Dorfmueller* (joint-winners) 

*School of Life Sciences winners.

School of Life Sciences Winners

The School had successes in three categories.

The School of Life Sciences Award was won by Hanneke MacLaren and Noelia Pelegrina-Hidalgo for 'Bless Your Brain'. A social media platform which translates complex neuroscientific research into comprehensible, educative and entertaining content to bridge the gap between science and the public. This category was sponsored by the School and offered a prize of £3000 to the winner. Other finalists in this category were Favoured Walter-Ugwuocha for ‘Calebize’ and Nnenna Ugwuocha for ‘SoCoolar’.

The Postgraduate Researcher Award was won by Jordana Freemantle and Michaela Omelkova for 'ExScite'. ExScite will provide a range of stimulating materials and interactive products grounded in health and science to advocate for positive behavioural change. They were awarded £2500 from the Dundee Doctoral Academy supported award. Jordana is a PhD student in Grahame Hardie's lab (CSI) while Michaela is a PhD student in Daan van Aalten's group (GRE).

The Staff Award was jointly awarded to Dr John Foerster and Dr Helge Dorfmueller. Helge is a Principal Investigator in the Division Molecular Microbiology and he won for 'RhaPSeda'. Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is killing annually more than 500,000 people and causes more than 700 Mio infections worldwide. GAS vaccines do not exist and have been made a priority by the WHO. Helge and his group have established an innovative GAS vaccine production platform that has the potential to revolutionise the production of affordable GAS vaccines globally.

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