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Design graduate is named Best Start up of the Year

Photo credit: Ali Foroughi, The Creative Circle

Asap Water Crafts, an innovative lifesaving product developed by a Loughborough Design graduate, has just been named Best Start-up Business of the Year in the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards, scooping the top prize of £10,000.

Ross Kemp developed the electric powered, one-person water craft during his final year degree project as a more financially viable and sustainable option for lifeguards and the leisure market. Since graduating from Loughborough in 2011 with First Class Honours, he has combined a full-time career in product design at Vax with the development of Asap, which is now investment ready.

Cheaper and more economical to maintain than a jet ski, the Asap water craft can be launched immediately by one person as well as being charged using solar energy. In 2012, Ross reached the finals of The BBC 3 show Be Your Own Boss, enabling him to produce a full-scale prototype which has attracted the attention of lifeguard directors from some of the world’s most challenging coastlines.

Ross has developed Asap with the support of The Studio, the University’s business development programme.  As well as professional office space, the initiative enables Ross to access the University’s specialist resources and external network of experts to maximise his commercial prospects.

As well as the cash prize from the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards, Ross has won a two-year mentoring package from senior Lloyds Banking Group representatives, and free legal advice from a specialist law firm.

"Winning the prize money and the mentoring is fantastic," Ross said. "Together with the fantastic support I’ve received through The Studio, this mentoring will add further value to the Asap proposition and enhance my business acumen."

David Oldfield, managing director SME and mid markets banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: "Asap water crafts really impressed the judges with its determination and achievements in meeting a real commercial need. The award is richly-deserved and we have no doubt that this will be a platform for further success in the future.”

Professor Steve Rothberg, Loughborough’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise) said:  “Ross is an outstanding ambassador for graduate enterprise.  We’re delighted to have been able to support his business in its early stages through The Studio and to promote him as part of our new Inspiring, Enterprising Graduates campaign.”

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