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Battle of the graduate entrepreneurs at regional awards final

The region’s top emerging entrepreneurs gathered at York St John University on Friday to compete for a £1,500 prize at an enterprise awards show.

The Graduate Entrepreneurship (GE) Awards, which coincided with York Business Week and Global Entrepreneur Week, saw ten of the region’s most innovative graduates and students congregate at York St John to compete in a Dragons’ Den-style competition.  Their task was to impress an expert judging panel by delivering a business pitch and then successfully defending their business model and plan during a gruelling question and answer session. 

After a demanding contest the winner was announced as Lucy Nuttall from Sheffield Hallam University, who captivated the panel with her business model for her company, Frontline Forensics.

In addition to battling it out during the competition, the event gave competitors the opportunity to meet business experts from across the region, to receive advice, to network and to participate in the celebration of entrepreneurial talent in the region.

The GE awards hosted by York St John University are just part of an array of support initiatives available through the Graduate Entrepreneurship (GE) Project. This project, coordinated by the University of Huddersfield and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), brings together the ten higher education institutions (HEIs) in Yorkshire and Humber to support student and graduate entrepreneurship, in order to benefit the region’s economy.

The ten finalists, each representing one of the ten higher education institutions across Yorkshire and the Humber, had been put forward to represent their respective institutions, after being nominated or selected by their universities.  York St John University’s entrant was former BA (Hons) Product Design student Heather Alstead, who graduated from the University last year with a first class degree.  She was put forward to the awards after impressing University staff with her projections and plans for her design business based in York (Heather Alstead Design) which she established earlier this year.  Since its launch, her innovative designs have already garnered the interest of several independent and high street retailers.  Heather’s business plans have been supported by York St John’s business incubation initiative, DesignWorks, which provides professional services to start-up designers in the region.  She has also been backed by the Faculty of Arts’ Creative Business team which offers mentoring, assistance and advice on business development and enterprise in the creative industries.

Louise Bermingham, Graduate Entrepreneurship Project Manager commented:

“The standard of applications received for this competition was incredibly high.  The judges had a tough job choosing their winner but I have no doubt that all applicants will go on to create great businesses that will in turn benefit the Yorkshire and UK economy.

The GE Project was recently awarded the Enterprise Champions accolade at the third annual National Enterprise Educator Awards. Formerly supported by the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, the project is now supported financially by the EU through the 2007-2013 Yorkshire and The Humber ERDF programme.

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer, on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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