UWE's theBizidea competition keeps on growing

Issue date: 11 May 2009


UWE Bizidea winners 2009 Now in its eighth year, theBizIdea Competition at the University of the West of England keeps on attracting brilliant entrepreneurial ideas. This year's winners were awarded their prizes at a special presentation evening on 7 May at Bristol's Mercure Holland House Hotel.

Representatives from various regional businesses and organisations attended the inspiring event, which was chaired by Director of Research, Business and Innovation (RBI) Professor Stephen Hagen, who has previously set up businesses himself, and featured speeches by established entrepreneurs with links to the University.

Jamie Murray-Wells, who set up his company Glasses Direct while still a student at UWE, discussed his experiences by taking part in a special guest interview. At 26 years old, he has just been made the youngest-ever recipient of the Queen's Award for Enterprise – one of the UK's most prestigious business-related awards.

He said, “Some of the biggest businesses today started in people's homes or garages. It is absolutely right that universities who have all this talent are using competitions like theBizIdea and business incubators to engender new entrepreneurs.”

Keynote speaker was UWE alumnus James Dunlop, whose company myhab provides recyclable festival dwellings for ecologically concerned music-lovers. After winning the New Designers Award in 2006 he decided to seek funding, successfully pitching to city firm MINT who offered him the investment required to realise his business.

Last year, Poppy Stephenson and her team won the Social Enterprise category in theBizIdea with the Bristol Community Festival Group. She spoke about her experiences of the competition and her first year in UWE Ventures Bristol, the University's new city-centre business incubation centre.

theBizIdea is run by RBI and aims to encourage and support students, staff and alumni to make their businesses become reality. This year's competition was hotter than ever, with an increased number of entrants vying for some fantastic prizes.

The winner of each category received £5000 and a year of rent-free space in UWE Ventures Bristol. In addition, all the winners can enrol on Bristol Business School's Sustainability Support for Small Business (S3) course free of charge. Runner-up awards, merit awards and a special Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) award were also up for grabs.

Fire Hand, the winners of the Business category with their idea for unique indicator gloves which use LEDs to make signalling easier for cyclists, were very pleased with their success. The team were made up of Tim Baxter, Ashley Moore and Alex King. Ashley said, “I was shocked and surprised because when I saw the other competitors' ideas I thought we would never win. It is remarkable to be in the company of Jamie, James and the previous winners.”

Other winners included Vashti Richards for her Social Enterprise entry Deki Development and Amy Butlin and Jonathan Pound for Lateral Effects in the Creative Design category.

Runners-up were Jason Sprague, Matt Studley and David McGoran with Social Walking (business category); Lorraine Gibbs and Adriene Layne with Layne Gibbs Communications (social enterprise category) and Laura Boyle and Louise Haswell with Sew That Jazz (creative design category). Grant Mercer and Craig Shirley picked up the CIM award for the business plan with the best marketing element for their idea OCD Informational Group.

Sponsorship is crucial to the continued success of the competition and thanks were extended to all the organisations which provided practical help and advice as well as financial support. This year's sponsors were Business Link, Lloyds TSB Commercial, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Book Check, Glasses Direct, Kinneir Dufort, SXS Events, Haseltine Lake, Bristol City Council and Bristol Business School (UWE).

Phil Comer, SW Regional Board Chairman of the CIM said, “Supporting new entrepreneurs is crucial to the future success of the economy and to generating employment and opportunities for growth. With the help of UWE it is great to see such interest in competitions like this, which can only bode well for the future.”

Other supporters of the competition were ISG Pearce, Jordans, Mature Marketing, Nomensa, Pressline Marketing Solutions, the Hub and Social Enterprise Works.

For more information on theBizidea visit thebizidea

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