Posted Monday 10 April 2017
Budding entrepreneurs from Kingston University pitched their business plans to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan after reaching the final of a prestigious London universities business contest.
The annual Mayor's Entrepreneur competition invites the capital's students and graduates to come up with smart ideas to improve their city, with sustainable products and processes that are financially viable. Design engineering postgraduate Nidhin Jayaprakash, manufacturing systems alumnus Josue Vivas Hernandez and communication design & creative economy alumna Irene Canuti made up two of the ten teams, selected from more than 300 entries across 37 universities and colleges.
They pitched their ideas to a panel of illustrious entrepreneurs and investors at City Hall, making Kingston University just one of two institutions to be represented by more than one team in the final round.
Nidhin, an MSc Advanced Product Design Engineering Masters student in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, designed Activated ceramic membrane (ACM) – a device that can be used with combustion equipment like engines, gas boilers that use air as their source of oxygen. ACM removes nitrogen from the air and supplies pure oxygen into the system, eliminating harmful pollutants that cause lung and heart disease.
Born in United Arab Emirates and raised in Dubai, Nidhin had been developing his idea for four years and believes the experience of competing in the final will give him the knowledge, confidence and contacts to make a success of his product as a business model. "The two fantastic things I will take from this experience are the mentoring and pitching lessons that I've learnt from the Enterprise team at Kingston University and the network of investors that I was able to meet," he said.
Students entered the competition with the assistance of Enterprise – Kingston University's service for aspiring student entrepreneurs. Enterprise offers a series of events featuring high-profile speakers, along with workshops, coaching and mentoring sessions, and is available to all students and recent graduates.
"Support I've received from the University has been brilliant and exactly what I was looking for when I chose to study here. I would like to take my idea forward, along with several others, and experience of the competition will act as a tremendous catalyst for this," Nidhin added.
Masters graduates Josue Vivas Hernandez and Irene Canuti paired up to create Ex3D – a design that turns the traditional desktop 3D printer into a multi-material device. Josue discovered potential for the idea during his Advanced Industrial and Manufacturing Systems MSc course and is now trying to grow a business. "Since handing in our dissertations we have been pitching our plan to investors, while taking advantage of the excellent opportunities we have through Enterprise," he explained.
"I chose to study at the University because I knew the course would open doors to becoming a chartered engineer, but the unique support available for student entrepreneurs before and after graduating – with chances to enter competitions such as the Mayor's Entrepreneur – really added value to my time there and has given me the desire to take this concept further," he added.
Although another team was ultimately victorious, Kingston University had the second highest volume of entries – thirty-eight – out of every university or college and the joint highest number of finalists. Head of Enterprise education Dr Martha Mador said the success of Kingston University's entrants underlined the entrepreneurial nature of its students. "This year was the most competitive field we've ever seen in the Mayor's Entrepreneur in terms of volume of entries," she said. "For Kingston University to provide two of the ten finalists is testament to the outstanding creative spirit that our students possess, as well as the brilliant support that is available to them from Enterprise," she added.
Dr Mador said the University would continue to work closely with Nidhin, Josue and Irene to support them in turning their ideas into a viable business.