Healthy living, fair-trade and robotics workshops win top prizes at UWE's theBizIdea competition

Issue date: 12 July 2011

European Regional Development Fund

An inspiring opening to this year's theBizIdea awards ceremony by keynote speaker Fraser Doherty set the tone for this celebration of the enterprising achievements of a record number of graduates, students and staff who took part in this year's newly formatted competition. It's never too soon to set up your own business, according to Fraser, who at the age of 21 already has many years of experience behind him with his successful company SuperJam. Fraser continues to grow his business and profits from his recipe book, which includes his grandmother's famous recipes, are funding a charity providing tea dances for pensioners.

Winner of the £5000 top prize for an existing venture was Sam Kotadia of Mindsport Ltd. He said, “Taking part in the BizIdea has supported our efforts to digitise our positive psychology publications. The process of completing an updated business-plan and pitching our business has also reminded me that we are on course to become a well-established global publication house. Over the years the team at UWE Ventures have given my business the space to evolve and mature into a sustainable and lean enterprise. Winning theBizIdea pays testament to this!”

The £5000 best plan prize went to third-year robotics student Zobia Nadeem, with her plan to provide robotics clubs and workshops to primary and secondary schools in Bristol. Presenting her with the prize, Ted Fowler, of Bristol City Council's Enterprise Development department said, “These enterprising entrants are part of the intangible assets of what makes Bristol great. I recommend sponsoring theBizIdea.”

The runners up in the Ventures and Plan stages are early stage businesses, Ed Cheney of Mabboo and Jodie Campbell of Belle Care. They both feel that they benefited from the competition process, perfecting their business plans and honing their pitching skills and the cash price is a welcome boost in this early stage of trading.

Rita Madeira and Nuno Alves, third year creative enterprise students, won one of four Ideas stage awards, receiving £1000 and a place in UWE's Ventures incubator for AYMO, a fashion business taking artisan designs from developing countries to trendy urban markets in Europe. Their products include beautiful leather shoes from Morocco.

Other winning ideas were SPLAT, a device to help children make rapid progress in literacy and Pet Patch, which offers small pet owners a chance to custom design their pet's new home.

Dr Dave Brennand, Head of UWE Ventures, said, “We are delighted with the increasing level of participation in enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship amongst students, staff and alumni throughout this academic year. Nurturing new companies is vital for economic recovery and all BizIdea participants benefit from the opportunity to practise and develop a range of skills and competencies that will help them compete in the future.”

This year, a record 110 staff, students and graduates started by responding to the online challenge of answering ten questions about their idea, plan or venture. These questions were designed to help them develop their idea, decide if the business opportunity was worth pursuing, and if so, develop a complete 'go-to-market' plan.

In the Venture stage, those already running businesses or enterprising projects were encouraged to reflect on their achievements and to develop their next set of goals.

Jill Burnett, Enterprise Manager, said, “We have designed theBizIdea to provide realistic but supported opportunities for everyone to practice innovation skills, make mistakes, think about managing risk and engage in meaningful discussion with business professionals.”

Kim Jones, Enterprise Manager, added, “We would like to thank the many volunteer assessors from the local business community who provided marks and confidential feedback to the entrants. We very much appreciate their diligence, fabulous range of insights and wealth of commercial common sense. Their written feedback has been invaluable.”

The judges commented on the exceptional quality of the presentations and the strength of the entries over previous years. Jon Pennell, from Lloyds TSB said, “Congratulations to all the winners, we are particularly pleased to be supporting the great city of Bristol and its future entrepreneurs.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve West, said, “We are an enterprising university and it is excellent to see the investment we have made to support budding entrepreneurs from ideas conception through to business growth being realised. Universities have a crucial role to play in stimulating business development, job creation, learning, and prosperity in these challenging times.”

theBizIdea Competition is supported by the Knowledge Escalator project, which is in part financed by the European Union's ERDF Competitiveness and Employment Programme 2007-13, securing £1,833,000 of ERDF investment through the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA).


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