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New Enterprise finalists announced

2 June 2014

Eleven of the most exciting new business ideas generated by University of Bristol students, staff and recent alumni have been selected to progress to the final round of the annual New Enterprise Competition (NEC) in October and a chance to win grant funds of up to £35,000.

In this round, the judges selected the 11 finalists from 43 applications and the successful applicants included two members of staff, two postgraduate, three undergraduates and four recent alumni. The shortlist included two entries from the same individual for the first time ever: Engineering student Oliver Spragg.

The shortlisted entries were as follows:

SMALprint alumnus Muzz Lakhani (BSc 2010, MSc 2013): a new assistive technology for visually impaired people to use smartphones to read labels on everyday consumer products.

Cancer Detection RS Dr John Day, Research Fellow in the Interface Analysis Centre: novel technology for better identification of cancer of the oesophagus.

Inductosense NDT Cheng-Huan Zhong, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering: a device using passive scanning technology infrastructure to conduct non-destructive testing of major infrastructure quickly and inexpensively.

MB Cleats Oliver Spragg, an undergraduate in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Aidan Wickham, an undergraduate in the Department of Engineering Mathematics: new cycling safety technology.

Fidelis Technology Oliver Spragg: novel smartphone technology enabling secure point-of-sale retail transactions.

Options Nigel Newton, a PhD student in the Graduate School of Education: a research-informed web service helping school-age students better choose their A-level courses, saving schools and colleges money in drop-outs from poorly chosen courses.

Balance Stationery alumnus Jon Lewis (2011-2014): stationery sold in the UK to fund educational equipment in the developing world on a social enterprise basis, already selling to Bristol schools and supporting schools in Nicaragua.

Create Hub alumnus Sam Fry (MA 2013): a website aggregating the fast-expanding overlap of arts/culture and digital technology research projects, providing resources for both the arts and commercial sectors.

Contolo Theo Ricketts, an undergraduate in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering: a technology-backed brokerage service transforming the advertising market around the small screens seen in shops, bars, cafes and other public places.

Qumet Dr Richard Nock, Research Assistant in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering: a low-cost, high-resolution timing instrument for the quantum information and medical imaging markets.

EatEase alumnus Mark Gibbons (MSci 2012): a restaurant review and information tool for people suffering from allergies or with special dietary requirements.

The finalists will now write up a detailed business plan, to be presented to the judging panel in October. In the two previous rounds of the New Enterprise Competition, the judges distributed over £14,000 in small grants to 26 business ventures.

Dave Jarman, Head of Enterprise Education and chair of the judging panel, was delighted with the NEC entries this year: ‘What really impressed me was the scale and quality of the research behind some of these plans. There was real evidence of people testing and evidencing their ideas to prove they had something. Fundamentally over three-quarters of the ideas we saw were probably viable but not quite as exciting or well proven as those of the finalists. We provide ever more support for would-be entrepreneurs through services like Basecamp and Spark and quality is rising as a result. This year we’ve had 119 entries in the competition – 43 more than our previous high.’

The New Enterprise Competition is generously funded and judged by a number of external sponsors: Deloitte, Wyvern, SETsquared, Santander, IP Group, Airbus, Motorola, UnLtd, Watertight Marketing, Social Enterprise Works, Marketest and Veale Wasbrough Vizards.

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