Plant science firm grows after boost from Y-Accelerator

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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.

Entrepreneurs Alexis Moschopoulos and Richard Banks have designed new smart plant growth chambers for plant science research. 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 Y-Accelerator 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. 
Alexis 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.” 
Delivered through one-to-one and group sessions, tailored to meet the needs of every candidate, the Y-Accelerator programme’s network of advisors, mentors and businesses will provide insight and expertise.
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 and 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.”
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.”
Also, Design futures, a commercially focused product and packaging design consultancy group based within Sheffield Hallam University, is offering consultancy services worth £2,000. This will be broken down into seven, two-hour sessions. 
The Y-Accelerator programme is currently open to applicants from all industry sectors, although logistics, manufacturing, and automation are especially of interest.
Y-Accelerator is a collaboration between private and public organisations, including Sheffield Hallam University, RiDO and entrepreneur in residence from Gripple Ltd.