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Bright ideas shine at the CitySpark 2013 final

A dozen teams submit business ideas to Dragon’s Den-style judging panel.
by John Stevenson

The 2013 CitySpark Big Ideas Competition, part of the year-round CitySpark student innovation and enterprise programme, culminated on the 21st February in a pitching event and prize giving ceremony.

Over 100 guests and finalists gathered in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Curran, opened this celebration of creativity and enterprise by emphasising the importance of entrepreneurship at City. Ben Southworth, Deputy CEO of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), delivered a talk and invited everyone to come and explore the digital technology hub on City's doorstep which offers possibilities for students interested in start-up companies.

Aurore Hochard, a City Law graduate who recently started her own business, shared her insights into being a student entrepreneur and the importance of spotting opportunities.

nullOver 300 City students registered with the CitySpark programme this year and 21 teams submitted their ideas for the competition. After an intense selection process, twelve teams were invited to pitch to a Dragon's Den-style judging panel consisting of successful entrepreneurs, business owners, funders and City academics. The winners of the Big Ideas competition were Adam-Lucas Pettit and Jeremy Evans from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, with Travelroulette, an innovative travel booking system. They won The City Future Fund first prize of £4,000.

Two second prizes of £2,000 went to Henry Balme and Arun Frey of the School of Arts and Social Sciences for Orfeo, a media player for classical music; and Laura Secorun Palet and Michele Teodori (also from the School of Arts and Social Sciences) for Newsfreed, a crowdfunding platform for Investigative Journalists.

nullThree third prizes of £1,000 each were awarded to Alborz Bozorgi and Constantinos Giannopoulos, School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (SEMS), for IDraw3D, a mobile app for kids; Andrew Whelan, Anuj Agarwal, Lydia Eades and Subal Charla, Cass Business School, for ProperTea, a high quality non-alcoholic beverage; and Yevgeniy Sidorov, Ingvild Steen Peersen, Mikhail Shomesov, Sophie Dennison, Eric Garcia and Joseph Akl, SEMS, for Thunderstruck, a toy truck with pull back and re-build functions.

Peter Roberts, Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Teaching Fellow, said:

"The idea for students in the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to enter the competition only came about after they completed a business project assignment to 'rescue' a UK traditional toy manufacturer by designing new products. Their ideas were very impressive. We made contact with the Enterprise Office who kindly assisted us. With encouragement, the teams worked very hard on engineering principles, marketing and presentation skills made Finals Day and delivered an impressive pitch in front of hard-nosed dragons. I'm really proud of these young SEMS entrepreneurs, the competition process taught them much about teamwork, communication, design, commercial viability of course, but perhaps more importantly embracing success and not being afraid of failure - the true hallmarks of entrepreneurship!"

According to engineering student, Alborz Bozorgi:

"The CitySpark programme as a whole is something truly amazing. It is not offered in other universities. CitySpark's mentorship scheme gave us the use of a business guru to help us throughout our project. His advice has really helped us a lot - not just in this project but also with business advice that we can use in the future too. We are very surprised at getting the Third Prize as, honestly, we are just as proud to have even made the final. Having won £1,000 we will actually invest that in the business and hopefully you will see our product on the market very soon!"

To view photographs from this event click here.

Please contact Lotta Olsson in the Enterprise Office for further information.

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