Enterprising students win prizes


An innovative new take on a photography business has helped a University of Sheffield student win a £2,000 prize to turn his idea into a reality, at the University´s annual Enterprising Ideas Business Planning Competition.

Steven Pugh, aged 26, who is studying for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, devised the winning plan for a Sheffield-based photography business, which provides an innovative new approach to the industry. Earlier in the year, Steven also created the idea of the `Blueprint Foundation,´ a social enterprise business and education scheme which looked at improving life skills, written English, maths general employability and confidence in troubled youngsters in South Yorkshire.

The Enterprising Ideas Business Planning Competition, which was funded by Yorkshire Forward and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), via the Economic Challenge Investment Fund, gives students and graduates of the University of Sheffield support in planning their business ideas and getting them off the ground. In addition, the competition aims to improve the skills and employability of those who are entering the job market during the economic downturn.

This year´s entrants were required to attend a business planning workshop before submitting a business plan, financial forecast and action plan, which were then reviewed by a panel of judges, to determine the winner for each of the following categories: Best Social Enterprise, Best Graduating Student and Overall Winner.

The £1,000 prize for Best Social Enterprise was won by student Adam Tomkins, aged 21, for his idea entitled `Project Artse.´ The talented student, who is studying for a degree in Artificial Intelligence with Computer Science, described `Project Artse´ as a worldwide collaborative community of socially conscious, artistic individuals, submitting original copyright-free works of art to a website. This artwork would then be used to create merchandise such as artistic books and clothing. `Project Artse´ would also work with local communities to develop products to sell, such as child-illustrated education books for children, in turn raising funds to build and improve schools in third world communities.

Aerospace Engineering student Adam Mason, aged 29, was awarded the £1,000 title of Best Graduating Student for his business `Uptime.´ Adam pitched the idea of a business which would use internet and mobile phone technology to place University students on shifts in local bars and restaurants on a sporadic, ad-hoc basis.

All of the winners also scooped free business mentoring time from RC Business Support and free student membership to the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Entrants were judged by a panel made up of local entrepreneurs, business support providers and academics, who were impressed with the quality of the unique ideas presented, which ranged from specialist food businesses to innovative educational programmes.

An awards ceremony was held yesterday (Thursday 13 May 2010) at the Enterprise Zone to celebrate the success of the entrants, who were awarded their prizes by Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield. The ceremony was followed by a networking event to allow applicants of the competition, as well as students and graduates of the University, the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and like minded people.

Overall winner Steven Pugh, said: "I am elated to have won. It´s really fantastic that all of the hard work over the past nine months has paid off. The cash and business support will help develop the social enterprise aspect of our work in the local area."

Helen Parrott, Enterprise Business Manager said: "The 2010 competition was an exciting opportunity for our enterprising students to develop their business planning skills and innovative thinking. We received even more entries this year with some outstanding plans, making choosing the winners a real challenge."