Glasgow students make waves to win top awards for young entrepreneurs

A joint team of students from Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art has seen off stiff competition to walk off with the £10,000 top prize in the undergraduate section of the National Business Plan Competition today, Wednesday 1 March. The award was announced in the Caird Hall, Dundee, at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise's Student Enterprise Summit - the largest national gathering of student entrepreneurs in the world - which boasts speakers including YO! Sushi founder and Dragons' Den star, Simon Woodroffe, and serial entrepreneur, Chris Gorman.

The team's innovative business, entitled 'Paper Filament' is a speculative design house, that has developed three concepts - a collapsible swimming pool lane divider that sees a 25m divider compressed down to 1m; a door hinge that is safe, durable and fire rated, as well as being impossible for the user to trap their fingers; and the first portable epilepsy alarm in the world.

The team, comprising Philip Ross, Martin Izod and Padraig Murphy was up against 16 other universities of 40 teams for the award. Strathclyde University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) were also front-runners for this award.

The Glasgow University win comes on top of the University triumphing in the UK Science Enterprise Centres' National Business Plan competition in November with Michael Bowes invention, Barhand. This is an automated vending machine that will transform the drinks industry by cutting costs, queues and increasing revenue. Michael also won the award in the postgraduate category of the National Business Plan competition last year.

The Dragons' Den style competition, divided into both Undergraduate and Postgraduate categories is organised by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), which aims to stimulate entrepreneurship in higher education institutions. The competition aims to encourage young people to show entrepreneurial spirit by coming up with cutting edge ideas and developing these into workable business plans. 'Paper Filament's' first prize of £10,000 is composed of a £5,000 cash prize plus up to £5,000 in-kind business start up support, with the opportunity to patent their idea. A total prize fund of £40,000 is on offer.

The final comes as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows Scotland climbing to the head of the first division of UK regions by new business activity, and the impact of enterprise training on levels of entrepreneurial activity - doubling the likelihood of setting up a business.

Guest speakers at the Summit include Simon Woodroffe, the driving force behind YO! Sushi and one of the starts of BBC2's Dragons Den; Dan Germain, co-founder of Innocent Drinks; Chris Gorman, serial entrepreneur and founder of mobile phone retailer DX Communications and star of Channel 4's 'Make me a Million'; and Tim Smit, spearhead of the campaign behind the creation of the Eden Project.

Simon Woodroffe said: 'I never met the person who went out to follow their dream and regretted it regardless of whether they later succeeded or failed, but I met many who looked back and said 'I wish I'd grasped that opportunity when it was there.

The Scottish Institute for Enterprise is enabling and encouraging those dreams and building a culture of enterprise to match that spirit of enterprise when the traders brought riches back to Scotland two centuries ago'.

Chris Gorman said: ''These winning students, as well as all the other student entrepreneurs, demonstrate the commitment, energy and drive needed to become successful and is only to be expected from the next generation of entrepreneurs. The variety of ideas on display is truly inspiring and demonstrates the excellent work going on in institutions across Scotland. I wish all the students the best for the future'.

Sharon Bamford, chief executive of SIE said: 'The winners and runners up exemplify the diverse range of business ideas on offer from these enterprising individuals who, in addition to undertaking their studies are also developing businesses start ups of great potential. What we are seeing today are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow who are set to make such a vital contribution to the Scottish economy.'

SIE is advising universities in Slovenia on setting up a national business plan competition, and has also advised Kenya and Jordan. It is also running workshops with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on setting up and running business plan competitions and recently returned from Harvard Business School running a session on creating a national infrastructure to encourage and support youth enterprise.

Currently in its fifth year, 2006 sees an increase in entries of 5% in the National Business Plan Competition, with 41 teams of students from 17 of Scotland's higher education institutions taking part.

Media Relations Office (media@gla.ac.uk)


Media contact: Alex Orr on 0131 240 6426, Mobile: 0771 891 3299; Gillian Woolsey on 0131 240 6424, Mobile: 07787 572779 to set up interviews and/or confirm attendance.

First published: 1 March 2006

<< March