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SETsquared awards showcase UK entrepreneurial talent

SETsquared awards showcase UK entrepreneurial talent

They are young, fearless and able to spot a business opportunity from a mile away.

While their peers are writing dissertations and visiting the SU bar, they are developing business plans and liaising with suppliers worldwide.

They are the UK’s growing army of student entrepreneurs and on Thursday (June 6) they came together to celebrate the best of the best.

The SETsquared student enterprise awards showcased the achievements of student entrepreneurs from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, as well as the mentors, champions and initiatives that have helped them thrive.

Among the success stories heard at the event were:

  • James Munro-Boon (winner of Social Enterprise Project Award) – an architecture graduate from the University of Bath. After working in Africa and Asia, James was shocked by the basic lack of school equipment. Inspired to make a change he set up Elephant Branded, which works with local villagers to make hand-made products from recycled materials, giving them a way out of poverty. For every item sold a school kit is donated back to a child in the community. Elephant Branded now sells online, across 24 universities, in Germany through FAB as well as nationwide in John Lewis. It has supplied to Google and is a winner of Google’s world competition for enterprise, one of SMARTA’s “Top 3 UK social Business” and one of Start Up UK’s “Top 20 UK Start Up business of 2012”
  • ModMyPi (winner of Graduate Start-Up Award) – ModMyPi was launched by University of Exeter graduate Jacob Marsh in March 2012 in response to the high levels of interest and demand for the Raspberry Pi minicomputer. The company produces case solutions for the Raspberry Pi and turned over almost £1M in year one with £100,000 profit.
  • The Young Ones (winner of Student Start-Up Award) – a business founded by University of Exeter students Tom Carson and Chris Rea in response to the ‘onesie’ craze which took off in 2010. The duo spotted a gap in the market and now supplies custom onesies to over 20 universities in the UK, with end users ranging from individuals to sporting groups and societies. The core of the Young Ones business model is the ability to quickly spot trending fashions and source high quality but lower priced alternatives. This has led to the company turning over £120k with a profit of £50k to date and making headway in the American university market.

The SETsquared Student Enterprise Awards followed news last week suggesting young people are becoming more inclined to follow in the footsteps of entrepreneurs such as Sir Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne. According to research, more than one in four unemployed young people would rather set up their own business than search for a job* and the number of self-employed young people has risen by 71,000 since the start of the financial crisis**.

SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, runs a number of initiatives and events to help foster entrepreneurialism in university students, regularly teaming up with some of the UK’s biggest companies and most successful entrepreneurs to deliver workshops and training.

Partnership director, Graham Harrison, said: “These awards rightly celebrate those who are working at the coalface to embody and support the Government’s agenda for entrepreneurship and growth. There are some incredible success stories from the nominees and winners and I hope their tales will inspire others across the country.”

Special guest at the awards, Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts and non-executive director of The White Company, added: “With the UK showing signs of a stagnated economy, it has never been more important to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Fast, flexible and lean start-ups will be the lifeblood of UK business in years to come and it is therefore vital that businesses, Government and organisations such as SETsquared work together to make it happen.”

Other winners at the event included:

  • The Basecamp Project (Best Student Enterprise Experience Award winner). Basecamp is run by students for students (supported by the Research, Enterprise & Development Division) at the University of Bristol. It has provided support to almost 100 student businesses at the University of Bristol.
  • Ray Crispin (Bristol), David Solomides (Exeter), Janet Preston (Surrey), John Hall (Southampton) and Nick Laing (Bath), who all received Business Mentor of the Year awards.
  • Charlotte Pearce (University of Southampton), Edward Noel (University of Exeter), Gemma-Josiane Smith (University of Bristol), Jian Yi Oh (University of Bath) and Kevin Patrick (University of Surrey), who were all named Student Enterprise Champions.
  • AmpiSolutions (People’s Choice – voted for by attendees at the awards) is a new and innovative company researching and developing ways of improving pre-hospital care in the UK and worldwide. 

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton logo
  • University of Surrey