Issue date: 11 April 2003

ISSUE DATE: 11/04/03

Revolutionary new software that could dramatically cut project costs in the aero industry has won first prize in the University of the West of England’s Business Plan Competition. The winning plan - called Plexus Manager - is the brainchild of a team of software scientists and engineers. They were presented with their prize – worth a total of £20,000 - at a special prizegiving evening at the University on 10 April.

Eleven finalists entered plans in the hope of scooping the top prize of £15,000 in cash and a year’s place in the University’s business incubator in Bristol’s city centre. Plexus Manager was judged as the plan most likely to succeed by the competition’s sponsors.

Nick Markovits, Enterprise Manager at UWE’s Centre for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies, who organised the competition, said: “The range of ideas was huge, but all the finalists had in common a commitment to win, and choosing the winner was not an easy task for our panel of external sponsors. We were delighted to have Sir Martin Wood, founder Oxford Instruments, as guest speaker and to present the prizes.”

The winning team consisted of James Scanlan, Philip Lawrence and Robert E Smith, of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, and Ian Poccachard of Rolls-Royce. They described their successful plan in this way:

“This is a business proposal based upon the commercial exploitation of a fundamentally new and powerful planning tool that will revolutionise the way major projects are managed. For large companies engaged in the development of new products, the ability to systematically manage the flow of information and schedule activities and decision points is a core competence.

“Most importantly the tool can manage design iterations and feedback loops which characterise major projects. Trials have demonstrated savings of over 50% in terms of resources or project timescales.”

Two other business plans received special commendations by the judges. These were:
 SmartSpecs, a venture based on the production of inexpensive spectacles whose lenses have focal lengths that can be adjusted by the wearer

 l’Entreprise Européenne a project aiming to provide an alternative and cost-saving solution for French entrepreneurs to create their own companies

This is the UWE Business Plan Competition’s second year and again staff and students with bright business ideas were given advice and support to help turn them into reality. Twenty-one teams entered originally and received financial advice and mentoring on producing marketable business plans.


Editor’s notes

The eleven finalists were:

Buster-Jones Clothing
Creative Markets Ltd
Expeditions @ Ventures
L’Entreprise Européenne Ltd
The Mill
Plexus Manager

Four of the eleven teams who reached the final were student teams, and seven consisted of staff members. Teams were multi-disciplinary, with members from the Bristol Business School and the Faculties of Sciences; Law; Education; Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences; and Built Environment, as well as from external organisations.

The competition is supported by sponsorship from Business Link West, Burges Salmon, ICON Corporate Finance, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Solomon Hare.

Jpeg visual available from Jayne.Andrews@uwe.ac.uk, caption: Ian Poccachard (Rolls Royce), James Scanlan (UWE), Philip Lawrence (UWE) and Sir Martin Wood.

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