UWE'S ENTERPRISING ENGINEERS WIN TOP BUSINESS PRIZE

Issue date: 06 May 2004


ISSUE DATE: 06/05/04

Staff and student teams from the same faculty at the University of the West of England both won top prizes at the Business Plan Competition final on 5 May. The overall winners - who won £12,500 in cash - were a team of staff from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences led by Alan Jocelyn. Their plan is to use laser induced superplasticity to create the lightest and strongest structures ever built, potentially revolutionising manufacturing techniques in aerospace and other industries.

For the first time in the competition, a prize of £2,500 was also awarded for the best student business plan. This was won by final year student Bruce Griffin from the same Faculty for his timesaving idea for automatic staff rostering for the health industry.

Both sets of winners also receive a year’s rent-free space in the University’s city centre business incubators so their plans can become reality. The prizes, worth a total of £20,000 in value, were awarded by Juliet Williams, Chairman of the South West Regional Development Association, at an event to celebrate enterprise and innovation at UWE. Presenting certificates to all the eight teams of finalists, she praised their inventive and exciting ideas for businesses of the future, saying:

“New enterprises are important to the region’s economic growth. The South West RDA is both proud and supportive of its universities. It has partnered UWE through small grants for early stage ideas and through support for business incubator facilities.”

Alan Jocelyn said the winning team, LISTech, was elated at their win, commenting:

“Our business proposal is to develop the lightest, strongest, most corrosion and fatigue resistant structures yet – which could also produce an energy saving of 60%. The prize money will be used to help bid for additional funding necessary to get the business off the ground.”

Student prizewinner Bruce Griffin of PhoenixNET said: “Winning the competition for the best student plan is still sinking in - but I am really looking forward to taking the plan and turning it into reality.”

Other shortlisted ideas from budding entrepreneurs ranged from the creation of an environmentally friendly sustainable ‘Bristol Mountain Board Park’ to the setting up of a new UWE student radio station ‘The Hub 1449 AM’.

Fifteen teams entered the competition, which is organised by UWE’s Centre for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies. Nick Markovits, Enterprise Manager from the Centre said:

“These ideas celebrate the best ideas for new business but all entrants receive excellent advice from our sponsors.”

The sponsors of the UWE Business Plan Competition are: Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants, Business West, ICON Corporate Finance, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Osborne Clarke, Solicitors and the University of the West of England.

Jim Brown of Baker Tilly said: “The sponsors were pleased with the quality of entries and choosing a winner was especially hard this year.”

One year on, Jim Scanlan of last year’s prizewinning team Plexus Manager endorsed the competition saying:

“I found UWE’s business plan competition to be extremely helpful. It forced us to put together a coherent, credible plan against a deadline. It allowed us to get friendly business and legal advice and the prize allowed us to set up the business on a sound footing and our business has now achieved a number of important milestones."

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes

1. UWE’s Business Plan Competition is run by the Centre for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies. For more information and explanations of the type of businesses that could be included contact Nick Markovits, Enterprise Manager, email: nick.markovits@uwe.ac.uk or tel: 0117 328 2763.
2. Full list of finalists and their projects is available from the press office. A JPEG of the winners is also available.

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