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18 September 2012 | PR 12/163

Design graduate selected for £1 million entrepreneur challenge on national TV

Ross Kemp

(image copyright: Leo Cinicolo)

Industrial Design and Technology graduate Ross Kemp has been selected to take part in the high stakes entrepreneurial show, Be Your Own Boss.  The show features Innocent Drinks co-founder, Richard Reed, in his quest to find the cream of young British talent.  Reed has £1 million to invest in the right ideas and Ross hopes to impress him with the lifesaving invention he developed at Loughborough University.

Ross had the idea for power assisted watercraft for beach lifeguards during lifesaving practice at Loughborough.  He devoted his final year project to developing a prototype for an electronic power assisted watercraft, to help lifeguards get out fast whilst conserving their energy to save lives at sea.  A cheaper alternative to a jet ski and easier to launch than a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), Asap is a one-person craft that can be solar charged.

Ross graduated from Loughborough in 2011 and began work as a product designer for leading floor-care brand Vax, but was eager to see if he could turn his idea into a commercial reality.  He was chosen as one of the first graduates to be supported by The Studio, the University’s initiative to help recent graduates’ business ventures.

Through the Studio, Ross has been able to refine his prototype with help from his former tutors in Loughborough Design School, using its workshops and design facilities.  The Studio has also teamed Ross up with experienced mentors who are helping him get his business plan in the best shape for investment.

“Being part of Be Your Own Boss has been a life-changing experience which has really accelerated my business,” said Ross.  “It’s been exciting to get a new prototype built at the National Composites Centre and I’ve learned so much that will help me.”  Whilst on the show, Ross received unexpected support for Asap from Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, who offered to fly the craft out to Bondi in Australia to be tested in some of the world’s most punishing surf.  Asap has received global interest from lifeguard directors, including the Port Elizabeth region which witnessed South Africa’s worst ever drowning tragedy in which six rugby players were swept out to sea in March 2012. 

Professor Steve Rothberg, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, said: “At Loughborough, we are committed to doing all we can to support graduates who are taking their first steps in business.  Ross is an outstanding ambassador for graduate enterprise.  He achieved a first class degree, has embarked on a career in product design and is now building a successful business venture.  We recognised the merits of his business through our recruitment into the Studio and he fully deserves the recognition he is now receiving. I wish him every success for the future.”

Ross appears on Be Your Own Boss on BBC 3 at 9pm on Wednesday 19 September.


For all media enquiries contact:

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

Notes for editors:

1. About Ross Kemp and Asap
Ross’ passion for design began in his parents’ garage in St Albans, where he made a large scale model of The Thunderbirds Tracy Island.  His current design obsession, Asap is an electric power assisted water craft for beach lifeguards. Light enough for one person to carry and launch, the craft’s small electric motor (which can be solar charged) enables lifeguards to get out to sea quicker and saves their energy to help casualties.  Asap is currently being developed to manufacture. A short film about Ross and the development of Asap is available.

2. About The Studio
Part of Loughborough University’s continued investment in Enterprise, the Studio provides a dynamic and highly supportive environment for graduates taking their first steps in business.  They benefit from professional office space, access to the University’s resources and expertise and mentoring to accelerate their business venture.  The Studio invests financially in each graduate member through a royalty agreement with the graduate paying a percentage of sales turnover of the new venture, once they start trading.

3. About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

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 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

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.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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