Reporter 428, 30 November 1998

Skinful of success for Geleca's wound healers

An entrepreneurial postgraduate spent her birthday locked in the imaginary boardroom of a fictional biotechnology company - and emerged a year older with a presentation judged among the best in the country.

PhD student Saira Kaneez was responsible for marketing Geleca, a company she formed with colleagues from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Geleca was dreamt up as part of the biotechnology young entrepreneurs scheme, which aims to teach students some of the business skills required to establish successful companies. These include preparing business plans, marketing, financing, and studying product case histories.

"We asked the students to step aside from the science behind their product and instead think about who would want to buy it," said Dr John Thompson of the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council. "They were given advice from business professionals and then prepared a presentation to venture capitalists to persuade them to invest in their companies."

Geleca's product is an artificial skin to speed up wound healing and the team's discussions nearly left them regretting its theoretical nature.

"We nearly killed each other," said Geleca 'managing director' Luke Stockwin. "After two days of seminars we spent 28 hours with no food or sleep preparing the presentation, so you can imagine the mood we were in by the end."

Geleca's board of directors were judged the winners of the northern regional final and are now preparing for the national final in London on December 15.

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