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Students in the running for once in a lifetime entrepreneurial trip to USA

Some of the UK’s most entrepreneurial university students and graduates are set to be honoured this week (June 4) as SETsquared holds its annual Student Enterprise Awards at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton.

As part of the event student and graduate businesses from Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey are in the running to win a fully funded trip to America to help them develop their ideas for market in the USA.

The awards evening is hosted this year by the University of Southampton and run annually by SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey which helps entrepreneurs and start-ups to grow.

Awards will be given on the night for ‘Best Student Enterprise’, ‘Best Graduate Enterprise’ and ‘Game Changer Social Enterprise’. In addition, one lucky entrepreneur or business will win the chance of a lifetime in the form of the Grant Thornton Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. The winning business, selected by Grant Thornton in Southampton, will get a trip to the US for up to two of its team to gain insight into developing a business for the stateside market.

Among the companies in the running for the Grant Thornton award and set to be honoured on the night are:

From The University of Bath

  • Pasta Pit-Stop – a restaurant aimed at ‘Generation Z street food’ diners, fusing a lively, themed bar with a self-service eating area.
  • Office Pantry – a graduate start-up that delivers super foods to offices.
  • Ordo – the company has developed an app called Ordable which allows you to browse, order and pay for food and drinks at restaurants using your smartphone. The iBeacon technology behind it means the app can micro-locate smartphone users indoors and even assign them to a table.

From The University of Bristol

  • Filthy Banana – a food business selling hot banana desserts. The business is the brainchild of students Sam and Amin, who have combined their experience in working in top restaurants and market stalls. The company has gone from strength to strength throughout the year and the pair is now looking for a permanent physical location to start pushing the company further forward.
  • Idea Skateboards – a graduate business set up by Rob Owen out of his passion for skating and art. The company provides the skate community with originally designed clothing and art through working with as many artists as possible.
  • The Bristol Bicycle Company – the company offers cheap and affordable bike rentals to students in Bristol who otherwise may not have the money to cycle. The company has already received funding from the Students’ Union, Bristol Hubs and Bristol City Council.

From The University of Exeter

  • Siymb – a company that uses inexpensive wearable technology to transform the way people interact with each other at conferences and exhibitions. With a simple handshake, participants will be able to exchange details about one another, abolishing the need for printed business cards and leaflets.
  • Pulsenotes – an online medical revision service that gives undergraduate medical students presentations, notes and MCQs to help them in their studies. The graduate business was formed by three medical students and they have the financial and business backing of seasoned entrepreneur Phillip Cameron of No.1 Traveller.
  • TickBox – this company has made a decision-making platform that helps voters and candidates in elections. In its first year the company connected over 250,000 voters to potential candidates, using a new technology that lists profiles on every candidate standing in the election, regardless of popularity, funding or belief.

From The University of Southampton

  • SanEco is a social enterprise business that empowers communities using sanitation and empowers entrepreneurs to change their own lives and their communities forever.
  • DividaBill – The graduate business was set up by Jon and Saumeel, who had trouble with dealing with their bills while studying at The University of Southampton. They decided to solve the problem by setting up a business where customers can sign up once and all their bills are set up and managed. The system saves over £100 a year compared to leading providers.
  • Metix Ltd – a medical technology company that is developing a robust handheld vital signs monitor called COREMED® Aid.

From The University of Surrey

  • Red Gap – an ethical company that sources handmade artwork from artists in China, providing them with work. So far the company’s branding model has enabled them to provide 68 artworks and help eight craftsmen. By the end of the year it hopes to provide opportunities for at least 50 in need artists, many of whom are affected by disabilities, mental illness or poverty.
  • Team Tops Ltd – a graduate business from the University of Surrey which produces printed, embroidered and bespoke company. Already the start-up’s clients include the likes of Microsoft, Mercedes and even Brian May from Queen.
  • TrueInvivo – a company that has developed an innovative method of measuring radiation dosage and spread in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. The TrueInvivo device is so small that it can be placed into the patient’s body to provide immediate data on dosages, enabling treatment to be monitored more effectively and accurately.

A ‘People’s Choice’ award will also be presented on the night, as voted for by audience members.

Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, said: “The number of young people going on to set up their own businesses straight from our five partner universities is increasing year on year and it’s refreshing to see so many young people being fearless and taking the leap. While the entrepreneurialism route is often perceived as a risky one, there is more help out there now for budding entrepreneurs than ever. With the right support, mentoring and access to funding there is no reason that students and graduates can’t develop their start-ups into national and international businesses.”

Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton’s Southampton office, added: “Entrepreneurship has a huge part to play in the growth of the UK economy over the coming years and is directly related to creating sustainable and dynamic communities. It’s important that all stakeholders and not just the government do all they can to help support entrepreneurship at a local and regional level. That’s why we are incredibly supportive of the work of SETsquared and why we are delighted to provide this fantastic opportunity for one of the shortlisted businesses to win a trip to the USA to further their market research.”

Max Toti, managing director and chief technology officer of Captec Ltd, will be the guest speaker at Thursday night’s event. An alumni of The University of Southampton, he is a visiting lecturer for UK technology universities on innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth creation.

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