Posted Wednesday 22 February 2017
An upcycling fashion brand, a nail-painting service for children's parties and an on-demand flexible work smartphone app for employers were just three of the innovative winning entries by students at this year's Bright Ideas event, a Dragon's Den-style competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Each year creative students aim to win up to £1,000 by pitching their business ideas to a judging panel of successful entrepreneurs and notable University alumni. This year saw 359 business ideas submitted by 665 entrants, underlining Kingston University's reputation as a leading national entrepreneurial institution.
Dr Martha Mador, Head of Enterprise Education for Kingston University and organiser of Bright Ideas was very impressed by this year's contestants. "The creativity and entrepreneurial flair of our students never ceases to amaze us," she said, "we have been running this competition for the last 12 years, and each year the range of entries gets better and better."
Winner of the Science category was third-year biological sciences student Nadja Howton-Cheney, with Allergenie - a smartphone app that would allow allergy sufferers to see which food they can eat at a restaurant based on up-to-date menu information. Nadja now wants to get the app developed and team up with a software specialist to take her idea forward.
"Being lactose intolerant, it would be great to know if something on a menu contains dairy without constantly having to ask, and I wanted to create a way of making this process easier", Nadja explained. "Now I'd like to use the experience of Bright Ideas and the funding I've received to turn this concept into a useable app for diners with allergies."
Runners-up included a baggage harness for motorcyclists and a mobile app for a smart Café ordering system. The Freelance and Creative category prize went to MSc International Business and Project Management student Shehabur Rahman, who designed Reve London - swimming shorts with a welded, air tight waterproof pocket for users to protect their valuables whilst participating in a water sport activity or at the beach. Shehabur said taking part in Bright Ideas had given him a new-found confidence and drive to pursue his novel business idea. "I'm not naturally the most confident speaker but the mentoring I received along the way really helped me for the pitch," he said. "Having Enterprise's expert guidance has inspired me to carry on developing the product and given me some invaluable contacts along the way."
Finalists were given three minutes to pitch their ideas to judges, with a further five minutes allocated for questions from the panel. Winners and runners-up were announced at a presentation in the Business School; with runners-up in each category receiving £250 towards developing their idea and winners awarded £1,000 each.
The audience voted on their favourite idea, with SIRO Rail - a robot that tracks railway maintenance and repair requirements - by embedded systems (IT) student Amin Rigi claiming £500 towards developing his business model. The judges also selected an overall Golden Ticket winner to receive £500 of professional market research from industry experts Marketest.
This unique prize was awarded to winners of the Social Enterprise category - third-year biological sciences student Fazai Muzambi and third-year biomedical sciences students Kennedy Gyebi and Rita Njoku, who are developing a smartphone app designed to help students handle the many demands of studying for a degree, called iCope.
Bright Ideas is part of the University's Enterprise programme, which is open to students and recent graduates and features a series of events featuring high-profile speakers, along with workshops, coaching and mentoring sessions.
Reflecting on the success of the event, Dr Mador said all contestants should take positive experiences from the competition. "It was a more competitive field than ever before and all entrants should be extremely proud of and encouraged by their work," she said. "Equally, those who have been awarded prizes know that the hard work starts here and that they must seek all the advice they can from as many different people as possible - Enterprise aims to make this possible for them."
Bright Ideas is just one of the many events that Enterprise organises for Kingston University students, with many opportunities to enter internal and external competitions throughout the year.
Find out more about Enterprise at Kingston University.