Richard Banks - Grobotic (left), Allan Wood - UKSE (middle/back), Alexis Moschopoulos - Grobotic (middle/front) and Eric Cheok - Grobotic (right)
Rotherham start-up specialising in scientific apparatus for plant science research has turned their ‘idea on the back of an envelope’ into an actual business after accessing a regional business support programme.
Entrepreneurs Alexis Moschopoulos and Richard Banks have designed new smart plant growth chambers for plant science research, enabling scientists to more reliably and precisely control their experiments. The idea came to Alexis after struggling for many years with poor quality growth chambers while conducting research in plant science.
The duo read about the Y-Accelerator programme and saw it as an opportunity to make their business, Grobotic Systems, a reality.
The Y-Accelerator programme offers the city region’s next business leaders the opportunity to benefit from a three-month intensive development programme featuring expert advice, mentor support and specialist workshops, as well as the chance to pitch to a panel of high-profile investors including Mercia Technologies, Angels Group, Jenton Group and UK Steel Enterprise.
The programme is delivered by a partnership of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO) and Sheffield Hallam University, and run by a team of highly experienced business specialists from across the private sector.
Alexis said: “It really helped us focus on our ideas and confirm our beliefs about our product and our target customers. Also, the training around developing a pitch was very good and helpful for us to concisely pitch for investment on such a niche and complicated subject.”
The 12-week programme will run from November 2018 to February 2019 and include business modelling techniques, expert advice, mentors, specialist workshops, market research and individual support to help the ten chosen projects build a strong customer proposition and financial model as well as learn to effectively communicate the business value to customers and investors.
Amanda Parris, business growth manager for RiDO, said: “This is a programme like no other available. We want people who think differently, who we can work with to create a viable, scalable business and this is certainly the case with Alexis and Richard’s business.
“We have a highly experienced team, part of Rotherham’s network of business incubators, to support entrepreneurs. The Y-Accelerator programme is open to all industry sectors, although logistics, manufacturing, and automation are especially of interest.”
While still in the process of prototyping and planning to beta-test soon, Richard and Alexis are looking to the future. Alexis said: “We see our business in the future expanding into different markets, different sectors and around the world.”
Richard said: “I have a very modest ambition - that ours should be the first plant growth chambers on Mars!”
Having been involved with the Y-Accelerator for a number of years UK Steel Enterprise, a subsidiary of Tata Steel, tasked with helping the economic regeneration of communities affected by changes in the steel industry, is offering a £1,000 prize for the winner of this year’s programme.
Regional Manager of UKSE, Keith Williams, added: “This year, we’re offering a cash prize for the winner which will allow them to kick-start their business model that will have been developed and nurtured throughout the 12-week programme. In addition, they will have the opportunity to pitch for investment.”
Additionally, Design futures, a product and packaging design consultancy group based within Sheffield Hallam University, is offering consultancy services worth £2,000.
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