Previous winners

Think BIG 2014

The quality of this year’s entrants was extremely high - deciding on our 15 finalists was really tough. With projects spanning education, health, retail, social enterprise and technology, the winners in each of the five categories were decided by Loughborough’s own Dragons’ Den. However, the overall Think BIG Champion was decided by public vote. Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners!

Allegro founder, Nia Roberts Allegro Costumes Nia Roberts

Allegro is set to become the international online marketplace for dancers to trade second-hand costumes. After a performance an expensive ensemble may never be worn again, but could well be of use to someone else. Initial market research has revealed a gap in the market and substantial interest in the concept.

Traders will buy and sell for free, with revenue coming from a percentage of the sale price and paid advertisements. Registered users of the site will receive regular newsletters and have access to the site’s blog full of news of interest to dance lovers.

Once established, Allegro will diversify into costume hire, making it even easier and cheaper for dancers to access a range of costumes.

BEE founder, Adam Dawson BEE Adam Dawson

BEE will be a multi-platform smartphone App, offering an alternative way to search the Internet – whilst raising money to support research into Colony Collapse Disorder which is decimating the bee population with far-reaching consequences for us all.

The target market of students and young professionals will search using eight categories and BEE-come Positive, Inspired, Healthy, Generous, Humoured, Successful, Stylish or Adventurous. Each category will provide events and suppliers local to the user. For example, those wishing to BEE-come healthy will receive a list of gyms, active activities and health shops close to their current location. Revenue will be generated via the BUZZ-inesses that advertise with BEE.

Breadfruit Kitchen founder, Seymour Lavine The Breadfruit Kitchen Seymour Lavine

Social enterprise The Breadfruit Kitchen will bring a new range of delicious, healthy meals to the UK market. Created from family recipes, using locally and West Indian grown produce, the Caribbean meals will be available for both retail and wholesale customers – and appeal to a wide market interested in savouring world cuisine.

The Breadfruit Kitchen’s profits will fund cookery training and employment for young people viewed as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) as well as a variety of valuable transferable skills and aspirational entrepreneurship activities.

Bumpkin Company founders - Lydia MacCormack, Jonathan Barker, Marco Kotterer, Harry Neicho and Jack Pickard The Bumpkin Company Lydia MacCormack and Jonathan Barker With Marco Kotterer, Harry Neicho, and Jack Pickard Winner

In 2013, The Bumpkin Company was granted Design Rights for a unique seating module that combines attractive space-saving design with a fun vibrant brand. Bumpkins are comfortable doughnut-shaped cushions that stack neatly on a pole. The components are constructed from colourful durable fabrics – all selected to conform with the stringent safety guidelines applicable to furniture.

The company’s initial target market is nurseries and primary schools, but plans are in place to expand the product range to suit the home, garden and office furniture sectors. Increased brand awareness and trading will be via a Bumpkins online store, social media, trade shows, printed catalogues and other online retailers.

Potter Clarkson Intellectual Property Development Award


Clothes Comparison founder, Rob Clifton Clothes Comparison Ltd Robert Clifton Winner

The online clothing market is growing rapidly, and consumers are keen to find ever quicker and easier ways to find the styles they want at competitive prices. The growing number of comparison sites indicates an appetite for this kind of retail experience, but as yet there are very few specialising in clothing.

Clothes Comparison – launched in 2013 – allows shoppers to search for similar items from a range of labels all in one place – with regular exclusive special offers. The site is free for consumers, revenue being raised via advertising and sales commission. Almost 20 well-known brands have already signed up to the site. Between them they offer more than 250 products via the site which have generated in excess of 2,000 clicks.

Ecommerce and Retail
Santander Universities Award

Event Catch founders, Peter Bailey and Ben Oddie  Event Catch Peter Bailey With Ben Oddie Winner

Event Catch is a piece of social media extraction software set to revolutionise the event experience for organisers and participants alike. The software selects Twitter feeds – based on specified hashtags – and re-presents them in a highly visual format for those engaged in the event as well as for post-event analysis.

Tweets and images are streamed in real-time, allowing organisers and attendees to spontaneously share the experience with each other and the wider public, promoting interest in the event and encouraging engagement even beyond the event venue.

Collecting event data in this way is invaluable for organisers who have a repository of comments, images and feedback to support future event planning.

Dragon's Innovation Award


Fail Forward founders, Peter Bailey, Marco Kotterer and Helen Ots Fail Forward Peter Bailey With Marco Kotterer and Helen Ots

Using events, an online platform and social media, Fail Forward encourages us to celebrate failure and change as important elements of development and success. By drawing on the experiences of inspirational individuals – who share their failure stories both online and as guest speakers – we are invited to re-evaluate the value of trial and error.

The organisation held its successful inaugural event at Loughborough Students' Union in March 2014, and is now developing a series of annual UK events. Long term, they intend to inspire, educate and give us the confidence to try a new skill, opportunity or complete change of direction both personally and professionally.

Kelly Medical founder, Ben Kelly Kelly Medical Ben Kelly Winner

More than 2.8 million people in the UK live with Type 2 Diabetes, and more than 275,000 suffer a suspected heart attack each year. Not all of these people take up or complete the exercise programme prescribed for their recovery – in many cases because they see no improvement in their condition.

Kelly Medical will provide bespoke exercise rehabilitation packages for those living with and recovering from chronic diseases. Using patented DNA technology in collaboration with experts in the field of genetics, Ben is able to predict how an individual will respond to different types of exercise. Using this genetic profile, Kelly Medical will prescribe personalised rehabilitation packages that best suit the patients’ physiological needs.

Consultancy or Service

Noux founder, Susan Shelley Noux Susan Shelley Winner

Noux is a high-end design house producing premium pet products and accessories which are technologically innovative, aesthetically enhance the consumer’s living space and are easy to use.

The company’s first product Avo – a self-maintaining fish tank – is scheduled to be market-ready within the coming two years with other items for cats, dogs and small animals added to the range in due course. Sales will be direct to customers via an online store as well as through selected online and high street retailers.

Susan received a Special Recognition Award at the EUWIIN International Awards 2013.

The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity Award for Manufacturing and Technology
Marketest Award

Progress Poll founder, David Tingle Progress Poll Web Applications David Tingle Winner

Educational App Progress Poll will provide teachers with an excellent tool for monitoring and progressing student learning, providing valuable information about students’ understanding of the subjects and concepts covered.

Initially, the App will assess learning in Mathematics with the sciences and other subjects added to the platform as the product’s market share grows. Although similar tools are available, Progress Poll will be quicker and easier to use – and competitively priced – making it an attractive proposition within the education market.

Dragon's Innovation Award

Public Exercise Research founder, Maurice Dungey Public Exercise Research Maurice Dungey

Public Exercise Research will be an on-line library of articles written by exercise researchers for a general readership rather than fellow academics. Access to information written specifically for non-experts will help health and lifestyle journalists to provide accurate information to their readership, whilst exercise professionals will have the latest thinking in their field literally at their fingertips.

The site’s forum will also provide users with opportunities to engage with academics, posing questions and entering into discussions – helping to inform future research.

The not-for-profit will be financed by a minimal submission fee with income reinvested in the business to help improve the service for end-users.

Regime Francais founder, Amoo Abiola Atinuke Régime Français Amoo Abiola Atinuke

Régime Français provides children aged 8-14 years with a fun-filled way to develop French language skills. Established in Nigeria in 2010, RF is now looking to launch in the UK, starting with a Saturday Club.

The relaxed ethos of Régime Français is popular with children and parents alike. Learning is encouraged through a vibrant combination of music, drama and dance supplemented with games, art activities and talk. Lots of talk.

As the brand grows, a Régime Français Centre will be opened – offering a wide range of learning activities for children and adults spanning weekly classes, branded audio-visual materials and immersive holidays.

Apprends en jouant!

South Africa Challenge founders South Africa Challenge Matt Pradhan With Peter Bailey and Ben Oddie Winner

South Africa Challenge provides two-week experiential learning programmes for young people aged 18-25 years, helping them to develop a range of leadership and team skills by tackling real-world business and social problems. To this end, the Durban-based programme allows participants to work on projects that have real impacts on local communities.

Working in partnership with a variety of NGOs, South Africa Challenge has already supported 12 young people to make a major contribution to a range of health, welfare and educational projects.

This year, the team will deliver its third South Africa Challenge and, as the programme grows, the plan is to establish similar initiatives elsewhere across the globe.

Social Enterprise


South Element founder, Alessandro Del Vecchio The South Element Alessandro Del Vecchio With Niharika Kashyap Winner

Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases. The World Health Organisation estimated 207 million cases in 2012. A new clothing brand hopes to help reduce this grim statistic.

The South Element plans to become the sartorial brand of choice for those living and travelling in hot climates. The company will develop a range of light-weight clothing that will provide protection against both heat and the fatal attention of mosquitos. Profit generated by sales will be invested in further fabric technologies research.

To keep the body cool, the brand will make use of proven fabric technologies and, to deter invertebrate attack, be designed in colours that deter and repel insects.

Given the global tourist industry’s continued growth and diversification, the potential market for clothing that offers this unique combination of protection is huge. The South Element – don’t pack your bags without it!

Think BIG Champion


U-NO founders, Ben Rawls and William Hunter U-NO Ben Rawls With William Hunter

U-NO – due to launch in early autumn 2014 in time for Freshers’ Week – is a free App for Loughborough students which compares the themes and prices of events in local bars, clubs and pubs as well as LSU, helping users make a more informed choice about where to spend a night out.

Interest in the App will be generated via social media and campus channels, and capital to pay for future development will be raised via advertising revenue. Following a successful launch in Loughborough, the U-NO team plan to expand to other UK universities – eventually becoming an essential social planning tool for students nationwide.


Studio finalists

The Studio – the University’s bespoke business support programme for graduates – welcomed its first cohort of tenants in October 2011. Tenants receive two years' business mentoring support as well as office space and access to the University’s specialist facilities and expertise – everything they need to get their business off the ground. Our three finalists for the title of Studio Champion 2014 were chosen by the Studio tenants themselves, and the winner was decided by public vote.

Version 22 founder, Simon Lyons Version 22 Simon Lyons

Simon graduated in 2013 – with a First in Product Design Engineering – and decided to devote his attention to design company Version 22 which he launched in 2012.

Since then, he has been developing a number of products including Geco Hub – a wall-mounted grab-and-go storage unit for the home and office – and Nimble – an easy packaging opener.

Geco Hub – which started life as Simon’s third year project – is the ideal way to ensure that necessities like keys, wallets and phones are always handy and not buried under a pile of clutter when you need to leave the house in a hurry.

What’s more, the unique flexible matrix can be customised on a whim to suit the user’s changing needs – without the use of tools.

The design has already won a number of accolades including success in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Innovation Hothouse Competition as well as the University’s Think BIG! Business Plan Competition. In 2011, Simon secured a James Dyson Foundation Bursary to support Geco Hub’s development.

Nimble is an inclusively designed packaging opener that allows everyone, including those with hand-related disabilities, to open stubborn food and drink packaging easily. The design was a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award Winner and If Only competition winner.

Noux founder, Suzy Shelley Noux Susan Shelley

When she graduated in 2011 with a First in Industrial Design, Susan had already started work on Noux’s beautiful flagship product Avo – a 15-litre self-maintaining fish tank.

The tank features automated lighting, heating and filter systems as well as a modular planting framework all of which ensure that Avo is easy to set up, maintain and use.

After two years – gaining valuable industry experience with packaging specialists Path Design – she returned to Loughborough to embark on a PhD and join the Studio which gave her the chance to develop Avo and her company Noux.

A high-end design house, Noux produces premium pet products which are technologically innovative, easy to use, and attractive.

Avo is scheduled to be market-ready within the next two years with other items for cats, dogs and small animals added to the range in due course.

Sales will be direct to customers via an online store as well as through selected online and high street retailers including pet shops, garden centres and department stores.

Once established as a luxury pet brand, Noux will expand into the lucrative pet food market.

Suzy received a Special Recognition Award at the EUWIIN International Awards 2013.

Artist and sculptor, Ian Tricker Ian Tricker Artist and sculptor Winner

Ian Tricker – who graduated in 2013 with First Class Honours in Fine Art – is deservedly earning a place in the art world with a string of prestigious exhibitions and commissions in his rapidly expanding portfolio.

His sculptures explore the ambiguous forces of nature and the language of sculpture in terms of form and balance – often playfully seeming to defy gravity and time. His choice of found materials gives his work a visceral and surreal quality, inviting viewers to experience the decay of man-made structures as nature slowly reclaims her own.

During the past 12 months his work has shown at 11 exhibitions including FBA Futures at Mall Galleries, London; China’s Made in England (2013-4); and the Free Range Graduate Exhibition 2013 – at which he was one of only 10 graduates (from an initial 3,000) to receive the Emerging Artist Award. He has just been selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014.

To date, he has undertaken two commissions: The Sound of Time – created for Charnwood Borough Council which celebrates Loughborough’s musical and industrial heritage – and a new piece for the University.

His work has won several awards including the University’s Glendonbrook Enterprise and Innovation Award 2013; the Edward Sharpe Award and Commission 2013; the Emerging Artist Award at Free Range 2013; and, most recently, the Verve Open Sculpture Competition 2014.

Studio Champion