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6 June 2007 PR 07/76

Enterprising students rewarded for innovative business plans

Nine budding entrepreneurs from Loughborough University have been awarded cash prizes to develop their business ideas after winning a student business plan competition.

Loughborough University’s annual student business plan competition, now in its sixth year, aims to encourage and support students in the area of small business planning. From over 30 entries, the most commercially-promising and innovative business plans were selected and the winners announced at a special awards night at Holywell Park, Loughborough.

A team of four students scooped the first prize of £1500 for developing http://www.RateMyPlacement.co.uk, the UK’s first website solely dedicated to placement years. Alastair Lindsay, Ben Smith and Chris Wickson, all final year Business School students, and Oliver Sidwell, a final year Geography student, created RateMyPlacement to provide a structured online forum where students who have completed a placement year as part of their university degree course can leave a review about their experience for the benefit of future students about to embark on their placement. The site also offers advertising opportunities for employers involved in student placements.

Second prize of £1000 was awarded to Designers in Residence, a new initiative started by PhD research students Alister Fraser and Rebecca Lawson. The scheme places young motivated designers into UK schools to run design workshops. By providing role models, Designers in Residence aims to enthuse students and raise awareness of design and technology. It also provides teachers with an invaluable teaching resource linking the curricular subject and the creative industries.

Third prize of £500 was awarded to a team of three Business School students, James Blackwell, Patrick Horsington and Ed Sloane, for developing www.campusxchange.co.uk, an online student market place.

Mayor of Charnwood, Councillor Joe Tormey, joined representatives from local businesses and regional development organisations at the awards night celebrations, demonstrating continued local support for student enterprise and innovation.

“We were delighted to host this important awards night to celebrate the achievements of all of the students who took part in the competition,” says Marina Pickles, Student Enterprise Manager at Loughborough University. “All of the finalists developed plans that show real potential for a successful new enterprise that may ultimately aid regional wealth creation.”

The first prize winners will now be put forward to the national competition organised by UKSEC, the national network for enterprise educators.

“This business plan competition has been an amazing learning process for all of us,” comments Alastair Lindsay of first prize winner, RateMyPlacement. “We’re passionate about this business opportunity and excited about the challenges that lie ahead.”

The awards night audience enjoyed an interesting talk by guest speaker Ross Haddow, winner of last year’s regional student business plan competition, who shared his story of how winning the prize money has helped him to set up his environmentally-friendly power shower company, About DT Ltd.

Previous winners of Loughborough University’s student business plan competition have gone on to develop valuable business skills and build successful companies. Last year’s winner, Dan Currin, will shortly complete a prestigious fellowship, which has enabled him to learn from top business entrepreneurs in the USA, build his own entrepreneurial skills, and understand the start-up company process and how to move ideas and innovations into the market place.

“Loughborough University is extraordinarily proud of its success in enterprise as well as its teaching and research”, says Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice-Chancellor at Loughborough University. “This competition helps to raise the profile of innovation and increases the incentive for innovation amongst our students.”


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Notes for editors:

  1. High resolution images of prize winning students are available. Please contact Gemma Pendleton, G.L.Pendleton@lboro.ac.uk
  2. The competition was open to all students (undergraduates and postgraduates) at Loughborough University
  3. The Awards Night was sponsored by imago, Loughborough University’s premier location for conferences and events.
  4. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.
    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of

    Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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