Business community helps student entrepreneurs reach Rio

Posted on 7th March 2013

A group of enterprising students from the University of Chester has been given the exciting opportunity to travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2013 (GEC2013) thanks to the support of the local business community.

An original and unique initiative, ‘Destination Rio’ challenged teams of students to meet the mission of transforming an initial investment of just £10 into the profits necessary to fund travel to the GEC 2013 through a series of tasks designed to test their enterprise skills. T

wenty teams embarked upon the first stage, a 48 hour ‘£10 Challenge’ event, which has since received a ‘Badge of Honour’ and recognition as a ‘High Impact’ event by the organisers of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012.

Ten teams progressed and, supported by a business mentor, developed their business ideas and concepts in a bid to raise the funds.

Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC) staff behind the initiative, and the teams who reached the final stage, shared their entrepreneurial journey with people who have been particularly supportive of the project including both team mentors and partners.

In an exciting finale, ‘Funders of Last Resort’ pledged to support teams who had not quite reached the finish line. Funders including: Fran Hulbert, Chair of the RIC Steering Group; Neal Edwards, Wheatsheaf Investments; John-Newton Jones, Snowdonia Cheese; and David Pickering, Meadow Foods Ltd, provided a substantial amount of sponsorship, which was subsequently allocated to the teams who impressed the most.

The RIC is part-funded by the ERDF. Kirsty Badrock, Innovation and Enterprise Co-ordinator said: “We are extremely grateful for the overwhelming amount of support the project has received from local businesses. The list of people to thank is truly endless; all of whom have come together to provide this enriching experience for our students.”

Four teams will now travel to Rio de Janeiro to attend the main summit of the GEC2013, network with local entrepreneurs and business owners, meet with entrepreneurial students studying at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and experience the business culture of a city rising in stature with the backdrop of the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Michael Williams, a second year Business Management and Entrepreneurship student, said: "I am very excited to be travelling to Rio as part of Challenge 2013. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging experience. I look forward to meeting the international delegates at the GEC, the Brazilian business leaders and students studying in Rio.

“I am immensely appreciative of the support given by the funders to get us to Rio and thoroughly enjoyed talking about my company, MD Supplies Ltd and getting feedback and advice on how I can develop it further in the future.”

To log on to the Facebook and LinkedIn pages go to www.riversideinnovation.co.uk and follow @riversideinnov8 on Twitter.

Pictured above are the students taking part in Destination Rio, alongside funder and partner representatives including Meadow Foods Ltd, Santander, Wheatsheaf Group and RIC Steering Group.