Issue date: 29 November 2010
Bright ideas based on agriculture swept the board at this year's Universities South West Enterprise Awards (USWEA) in both the student and staff/alumni categories.
Winner of the Best Student Business plan was Charlie Hancock of the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) with Vermtek which provides scientifically-based, cost-effective solutions to pest problems. The idea offers a proactive approach to prevention, as well as estate maintenance and other outdoor services. Winner of the Best Staff / Alumni Business plan was Cotswold Gold Ltd, an idea from Charlie Beldam and Lawrence Millett-Satow also of the RAC for a high quality rapeseed oil for culinary use produced using 'zero waste' principles.
Student runner-up was Becky Barber from the University of Plymouth with BOO Enterprise, which engages with developing communities in Madagascar to provide market opportunities for a range of innovative, hand crafted products that utilise local materials.
An additional third prize award of £1000 was offered by last year's staff/alumni winners Sri Sharma and Michael Cornish to Rosanna Campbell of Bath Spa University to help to progress her business Musica, which aims to improve the quality of life of patients with dementia through musical activities.
Staff/alumni runner-up was Core & Grove, an enterprise set up by Jason Malone from Bath University offering technological advancements within the UK alcoholic drinks market, having developed a revolutionary distribution system for one of the fastest growing segments.
Professor David Coslett, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Plymouth said, “Enterprise and entrepreneurship have never been more important to our region and our economy. Entrepreneurs are willing to embrace risk, to try out new ideas and embrace innovative technologies. In today's economic climate this takes courage and good judgement, but often the best opportunities occur when you least expect them.
“Tonight's event involves students, alumni and staff from Higher Education Institutions in the South West who have ideas and plans to take forward into viable businesses. I would like to thank the finalists and their support teams who have travelled from all round the region to be with us tonight and I particularly thank the crucial input from the judges. They are all busy people in senior positions and we are grateful for their generous support in reading the plans, interviewing the entrants and giving invaluable feedback and advice to help these budding entrepreneurs move forward with their future plans.”
The judges this year included Nick Buckland OBE, board member of the South West RDA and Jeff Brown, Executive Director of Universities South West (two of the organisations funding the Awards); Ranulf Scarbrough, Chief Scientist for BT Martlesham; Dr Jane Guise, Chief Executive of the Royal Bath and West of England Society; Sandu Hellings, Director of riskHive Ltd, David Embleton, partner at Eden Ventures (UK) Ltd and Martin Coulthard, director of the Bath & Bristol Enterprise Network (BEN), the network for the technology business community in the region.
Keynote speaker Poppy Stephenson, of the Bristol Festival Community Group, was a runner-up with Andrew Smith (University of the West of England) in the Staff/Alumni category of the 2009 Awards. She came fresh from the success of the 2010 Brisfest to talk about taking this business forward from an initial idea developed with a group of friends who did not want to see the Bristol Community Festival disappear. The idea was formalised into a business plan with the help of competitions such as UWE's theBizidea and USWEA 09 and it has become a vibrant local business, involving hundreds of volunteers and supporters.
Organiser Iwona Tempowski of UWE said, “One interesting common factor of the two Staff / Alumni prize winners is that both their families have businesses – a farm in Charlie Beldam's case and R&D UK Ltd in Jason's case.”
The competition is part of the Knowledge Escalator South West (KE-SW) programme managed by Universities South West. KE-SW is supported by over £2.3 million of European Regional Development Funding investment through the South West RDA and aims to encourage collaboration and enterprise between universities and business in the region.
For more information on the competition visit http://www.universitiessouthwest.ac.uk
For films of interviews with the finalists visit http://rbi.uwe.ac.uk/SWEntAwards/2010finalists.asp"