Show of hands for student winners

David Grey  MBE presents prizes to Enterprise Challenge winners Paul Stanton and Belinda Noda of Cyle In Company.
David Grey MBE presents prizes to Enterprise Challenge winners Paul Stanton and Belinda Noda of Cyle In Company.
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Sheffield Hallam University’s Enterprise Challenge awards dinner almost descended into farce after electronic keypads used to record audience votes failed to work.

All 184 guests at the prestigious event were asked to punch in a corresponding number after listening to a two-minute pitch from the six finalists,

But host Sheila Quairney, head of enterprise, asked them to vote again after none of the wireless devices worked.

The event was thrown into confusion when they failed to work a second time.

Finalists were then asked to leave the room and the audience was asked for a show of hands to decide whether to split the £2,000 prize six ways - or decide the outcome with a manual vote.

A clear majority wanted a single winner and six rounds of voting followed, with senior staff on stage counting upraised hands.

Fortunately there was a clear victor - and the prospect of a recount disappeared.

Cycle In Company set up by husband and wife Paul Stanton and Belinda Noda won the audience vote - as well as the £5,000 top prize and the award for ‘best manufacturable product’.

The couple created the Daisy Bell bicycle - with the help of Gripple - that can be linked to a wheelchair so they can ride travel side-by-side.

They were so delighted they burst into song - and were joined by the audience in a version of music hall standard ‘Daisy Daisy’.

Lloyd Snellgrove, director of the university’s Research and Innovation Office, said: “In 14 years we have never had an evening like it - especially the things that didn’t go to plan!”

And he heaped praise on Sheila Quairney for keeping her cool throughout the technical mishap.

Charlie Ledger’s circus skills education company, Serendipity Circus, won the social enterprise award and Matt Parks’ 1Plus2Travel.com was main award runner up.

The awards are the longest running student enterprise contest in the region.

Entrants must not have launched their business before February.