Friday, October 26, 2018

News: Rotherham plant science firm sees rapid growth

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A 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.

Founded by entrepreneurs Alexis Moschopoulos and Richard Banks, Swinton-based Grobotic Systems Ltd designed and manufactured a chamber which is engineered to streamline the process of growing plants under precise controlled environmental conditions for scientific experimentation.

The idea came to Alexis after struggling for many years with poor quality growth chambers while conducting research in plant science and the duo read about Y-Accelerator and saw the local intensive start up programme as an opportunity to make their business, Grobotic Systems, a reality.

Richard Banks, founder of Grobotic, said: "I had a phone call from Alexis and he said an opportunity to push our idea forward into a real thing, a real product had come along and we thought – why not?

"So we signed up for it and it helped turn an idea on the back of an envelope into an actual business."

Developed by RiDO, the Y-Accelerator programme offers the city region's next business leaders the opportunity to benefit from a three-month fast-track development programme featuring expert advice, mentor support and specialist workshops, as well as the chance to pitch to a panel of high-profile investors.

Alexis Moschopoulos, founder of Grobotic, said: "It really helped us focus on our ideas and confirm our beliefs about our product and our target customers. Also, the training on developing a pitch was very good and very helpful for us to concisely pitch for investment on such a niche and complicated subject."

The 12-week programme is back, running from November 2018 to February 2019, and includes 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.

Alexis added: "We would recommend the Y-Accelerator programme because it really helps people to improve their business idea and explain in a clear, concise way what their business is about and to look for funding."

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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 looking to beta-test soon, Richard and Alexis are looking to the future.

Alexis said: "We see our business in the future expanding. We want our business to expand into different markets, different sectors and around the world."

Richard added: "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.

Keith Williams, regional manager of UKSE, said: "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."

The Y-Accelerator 2018/19 is inviting applications until October 31 2018 through the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub portal.

Grobotic Systems website

Images: UKSE

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