Top student entrepreneurs named for Enterprise Challenge award

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Students and graduates of Sheffield Hallam are an enterprising bunch - they have set up 75 businesses and created 105 jobs in the last year alone.

Now the top six will be pitting their fledgeling companies in a battle to be the best entrepreneur.

The university’s Enterprise Challenge Awards, now in their 14th year, will be staged in October 2 and the half dozen in the running for a £5,000 prize and the support and experience of key industry players have just been announced.

This year’s finalists range from budding restaurateurs and online party planners to a former radiographer who hopes to make finding online holiday bargains easier, a circus skills performer aiming to rebalance disadvantaged young people and a woman whose tandem cycle could change the horizons of disabled people.

Over £15,000 worth of external sponsorship prizes are on offer this year and for the first time, a prize of £2,000 will be awarded to the best social enterprise business that reaches the finals.

The competition itself provides a business learning curve; entrants develop and pitch their idea while receiving one to one business advice and mentoring.

Sheila Quairney, Head of Enterprise at Sheffield Hallam University and vice chair of Enterprise Educators UK, commented: “We have hundreds of enterprising students developing all sorts of amazing business ideas across the university.

“This competition gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of some of the most innovative students and recent graduates, and to give them the essential publicity and contacts to help them make a success of their fledgling businesses.”

The contest is just one of the ways in which Sheffield Hallam, a member of Enterprise Educators UK and a founding sponsor of the National Enterprise Educator Awards, supports students and graduates who want to start their own business.

In the last year it hosted the NACUE Student Enterprise Conference and provided budding start-ups with £24,500 in grants and funding, 661 hours of one-to-one specialist advice, plus business workshops and networking events. The Hatchery, its business incubator which since 2005 has been providing free 24/7 office facilities, was used by 45 student and graduate entrepreneurs.

This year’s trophy has been designed by up-and-coming Sheffield designer and recent Hallam University Industrial Design MA graduate, Christopher Barr. He won the task in a competition open exclusively to recent Sheffield Hallam graduates who are currently self-employed and based in the Sheffield Region.

It will be presented to the winner in front of an audience of 200 at the Enterprise Challenge Awards Dinner in the university’s Hallam Hall on October 2.