Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I'm not triskaidekaphobic!

Today's session was a lively one with thirteen new committees working towards the development of ideas that could form the basis of a set of new enterprises. This is the first time that M2M has been tried out at Level 2 and I was delighted with the bustling atmosphere and the engagement shown by everyone I spoke with. There were a number of ideas proposed, ranging from Phage Therapy to Synthetic Burgers, which made it immediately apparent that you were beginning to draw on the diversity of subject matter  from your varous degree courses, together with an awareness of what's in the News. This all goes to reinforce my view that by setting you the challenge of developing a business application of an area of Life Science, you not only improve your understanding of that Science, but you also acquire a wide range of transferable skills.

Here are some of the questions and issues that came up today. 

 "Do we need to invent something completely new?" Of course not, the aim is to explore an area of Science that interests you and then to explore its potential for making money, or for developing a social enterprise. Someone asked if student IP was the property of the University. I am delighted to say no. Any IP you develop alone (apart from any formulated in conjunction with a University member of staff) is yours. The ideas I discussed with you all were, without exception, appropriate for starting a business. The challenge your committees face, is to offer something new, something competitive and something either sustainable, or a business with a clear and attractive exit strategy.

What about the differences in Business planning in respect of a high quality, low volume product, versus a low cost-high volume product? Again, you have to work through the likely pricing structure that would be attractive to your customer base. In fact think about your complete offering and then begin to consider your customer base and refine your Business strategy accordingly. Think about the following types of product and how you might structure the business to deliver them. Aspirin or paracetamol, both as off patent drugs (think how much a pack of 32 costs in a supermarket). Anti-breast cancer drugs such as tamoxifen, or the challenges associated with the successful re-branding of thalidomide for anti-cancer therapy, after its disastrous launch for the relief of morning sickness in pregnant mothers in the late '50s and early '60s. Or maybe you could think of the marketing of Coca Cola, where no patents exist, or the business models of RedX Pharma and Concertpharma.

Most of you had settled on a single idea, but some of you were still toying with more than one idea. Since I didn't get round to everyone, I thought I would reiterate that each committee, with more than one idea, should draw up a list of about 5 criteria that you all agree would be required to make a successful business idea that interests you. Each member should then consider and rate each of these ideas. Then, re-group and try and see whether the best idea emerges. You should do this as soon as you can between now and the next session, in order to firm up your Business and present your preliminary business pitch at the next session.

In this respect, for the next session, you should give a 2 minute pitch of your business idea, using a single power point or prezi slide. Emma will provide more details on the MOLE site. I am looking forward to seeing how you get on with the planning and committee meetings: good luck and let me know if you have any questions. Finally, look at the M2M Google Site and if you find some useful internet resources, please share them!

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