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1 July 2009 | PR 09/82

Student entrepreneurs reveal winning business ideas

Chloe Hampson of the Barn Door Theatre Company collects her award.

Chloe Hampson of the Barn Door Theatre Company collects her award.

Four fledgling business ideas from enterprising students have been awarded cash prizes, after winning Loughborough University’s student business plan competition.

The annual competition organised by Loughborough University’s Student Enterprise Manager aims to encourage and support students in the area of small business planning.  Now in its eighth year, the competition attracted 55 entries, from which the most commercially-promising and innovative business ideas were selected by a panel of one internal judge and six external judges.  The winners were announced at a special awards night at the Henry Ford College, Loughborough University.

Chloe Hampson, 2008 Drama Graduate, scooped this year’s first prize of £1500.  Her business idea is to create The Barn Door Theatre Company, providing theatre experiences for any age, ability, background or location, delivering workshops for all groups within the community, using drama as a tool for learning, developing confidence, building team work and enabling participants to express themselves.

Jonathan Fenton, a Design and Technology 2008 graduate, and Dr Geoff Wilkins received the second prize of £1000 for Biopod, a multi award winning kitchen top food waste storage bin.  Its unique and patentable sealing mechanism means food waste can be kept in the home longer without the need to empty on a daily basis.

The third prize of £500 was awarded to Jordan Fleary, a final year Economics student, and Dominic Girdler his business partner, who is a Loughborough Graduate for CardShark.  CardShark will be the first UK company to bring premium quality poker products, the like of which are normally reserved for exclusive casinos and poker halls, to the home market. 

This year an additional prize was created on the recommendation of the panel of judges for Ecoshiki, the business idea of Tomoko Fujimura a Finalist from Multi Media Textiles Art and Design and Aya Sadayuki, a first year student of International Business.  Tomoko and Aya were awarded “Highly Commended” and after the award ceremony demonstrated to the audience how to use their unique fabric wrapping technique.

“All of the finalists developed plans that show real potential for a successful new enterprise that may ultimately aid regional wealth creation,” says Marina Pickles, Student Enterprise Manager at Loughborough University.

Gill Cooke Personnel Ltd, one of the largest single branch recruitment agencies in the East Midlands, generously sponsored an additional prize of £1000.  This was awarded to Jordan Fleary for his CardShark business idea.

"We at Gill Cooke Personnel Ltd are very proud of our association with Loughborough University and this is the 2nd year we have supported the Student Business Plan Competition,” says Caroline Nash, General Manager.  “It’s a great showcase for young entrepreneurial spirit and I was again encouraged by the range of ideas submitted for consideration.  We selected Jordan Fleary and Dominic Girdler as  worthy winners of the Gill Cooke Award, and hope that they can use it to help them develop CardShark.  Jordan and Dominic have spotted a gap in the market and come up with a smart branding idea for a product with great commercial potential, capitalising on a rising trend.  They submitted a worthy and credible business plan - which was the basis of the competition, and are great “front men” for the business - knowledgeable, confident and driven to make the business work.”

Two Creative Leicestershire bursaries of £1000 each were also awarded to Chloe Hampson and Jonathan Fleary.  Creative Leicestershire was set up in 2005 to support small arts, design and media businesses in Leicestershire and Rutland.  The bursaries come with additional business support.

Clare Hudson, Creative Industries Manager said “We were really pleased with the variety and quality of ideas coming from the students and have selected 2 who we know will go far”.

The final prize of the night was another newly created award from Potter Clarkson LLP, European Patent and Trademark Attorneys who awarded the “Potter Clarkson prize for Innovation and Intellectual Property Potential” this will consist of a tailor made package of IP and commercialisation support to the 2009 winner, Jonathan Fenton.  Phil Morris, Practice Manager at Potter Clarkson says “The Potter Clarkson prize recognises the finalist that presents a business plan with the greatest level of potential for commercialisation where Intellectual Property is key to the development of the product. This year the standard of the entries has been exceptionally high and we are delighted to be further involved with the competition”.

Deputy Mayor of Charnwood, Councillor, Stephen Campbell and Deputy Mayoress, Councillor, Brenda Seaton joined representatives from local businesses and regional development organisations at the awards night celebrations, demonstrating continued local support for student enterprise and innovation.  The evening featured an inspiring talk by guest speaker, Raef Bjayou, from the 2008 series of the Apprentice.  Raef spoke about being an entrepreneur, his involvement in projects in Ethiopia, Gambia and Senegal, and also about being part of the television series The Apprentice.

“This competition helps to raise the profile of innovation and increases the incentive for enterprise amongst our students,” says Professor Phill Dickens, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise at Loughborough University.  “We’re delighted to celebrate the students’ achievements and reward them with cash prizes to support the development of these excellent business ideas.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager, Enterprise Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk

Louise Smith
Marketing Officer, Enterprise Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228684
E: L.A.Smith@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

  • The competition was open to all Loughborough University students (undergraduates and postgraduates) and those who graduated from Loughborough University in 2008
  • High resolution images of the winning students are available from Marina Pickles, Student Enterprise Manager, m.pickles@lboro.ac.uk
  • The competition was sponsored by Gill Cooke Personnel Ltd, Creative Leicestershire, Potter Clarkson and Loughborough University Enterprise Office 
  • The Awards Night was sponsored by Loughborough University Enterprise Office
  • www.gill-cooke.co.uk
  • Creative Leicestershire http://www.creativeleicestershire.org.uk/index.htm
  • Potter Clarkson www.potterclarkson.com
  • 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 was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

    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.

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