University of Bath students scoop entrepreneur awards

The entrepreneurial efforts of University of Bath students have been recognised with a share of a £15,000 business start-up fund.

Students Chris Hannaway and Laura Fedorciow have been awarded a Proof of Concept award and Knowledge Escalator South West Student Start Up award respectively, having taken part in an event during which they pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges at the University.

The event was organised by the Students’ Union enterprise department and BANTER, Bath’s student entrepreneur club, with students competing for funding to develop their business ideas.

Chris Hannaway, and his business partner Will Hammersley, won over judges with their pitch for ‘Arctic Farm’. The pair produce 100% British frozen yogurt and have had a number of successes in the last year including securing a contract to supply Sainsbury’s.

Chris said: “"Will and I are delighted to have won this award and the funding will allow us to develop and relaunch a better, brighter, bolder product in more places in 2011. We've had an eventful year, including a successful launch of Arctic Farm in Sainsbury's, and we're really confident that with the additional support from the competition we will now be able to step up a level."

The Knowledge Escalator South West Student Start Up award presented to Laura Fedorciow was as a result of her excellent pitch for Vertigo Ventures, a talent engagement consultancy she runs along with business partner Bokani Tshidzu. The company is a talent engagement consultancy which works closely with corporations to use events and corporate social responsibility activities to engage stakeholders.

Siobain Hone, Student Enterprise Coordinator for the Students' Union said: “This is the first time we’ve had a start-up fund for students and it’s a very exciting prospect. Students at Bath have a great track record in enterprise and entries to this competition were very strong. The event was a great opportunity to direct students to sources of support to help start and develop their business.”

Presenting the awards were Ron Humphreys of Bath Ventures and Alison Evans from the University’s Research Development and Support Office. Alison said: “Chris and Laura have both been actively engaged in Student Enterprise activity here at the University and this is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we are keen to support. We hope that these awards will help them achieve their business ambitions.”

Ron Humphreys adds: “Bath Ventures is pleased to help support Student Enterprise, and we are delighted with the quality and ingenuity of the ideas that were pitched to the panel of judges. We wish Chris and Laura all the best in developing their ideas further.”

Although there could only be a small number of winners, all students who pitched to the panel have been encouraged to enter the BANTER Business Plan competition, where they will be matched with a business mentor to help them develop their ideas. There will then be a second opportunity to pitch to judges in the spring, when the remaining funding will be allocated.

Winner Laura Fedorciow said: “The BANTER Business Plan competition is a fantastic opportunity to draw up the beginnings of a business idea and receive support from business mentors, as well as have the opportunity to showcase your ideas to a knowledgeable audience.”

Knowledge Escalator South West is part of the Knowledge Escalator Project, part-financed by the European Union with £2,334,000 from the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13, and £2m from the South West Regional Development Agency under the Competitiveness and Convergence Operating Programmes.

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