Chester teams show their entrepreneurial flair in regional competition.

Posted on 13th February 2017

The University of Chester’s Business School will host the regional international Young Enterprise Start Up competition for the first time on Wednesday, February 22.

The three University of Chester Start-Ups going through to the regional Young Enterprise finals on February 22: Innovia, BB Cozy and Embrace, with their lecturer and Head of Department Connie Hancock (top right) and Alex Clarke, nominated as student of year (bottom left).
The three University of Chester Start-Ups going through to the regional Young Enterprise finals on February 22: Innovia, BB Cozy and Embrace, with their lecturer and Head of Department Connie Hancock (top right) and Alex Clarke, nominated as student of year (bottom left).

The event also sees three teams from the University make it through to this stage of the competition which is being held at the Queen’s Park Campus. 

Up to 15 undergraduate student companies have been whittled down from 180, representing nine North West universities and colleges. These will be vying for a host of awards and the two places to represent the region at the UK Final in Liverpool, after taking part in a Young Enterprise scheme to set up and run their own businesses for a year, with the help of business mentors.

Young Enterprise is the UK’s leading charity that empowers young people to harness their personal and business skills. It makes the connection between school, college and university and the world of work, enabling young people to develop the knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed, building on eight key skills: communication; confidence; financial capability; initiative; organisation; problem-solving; teamwork and resilience.

The three teams representing Chester are Innovia, BBCozy and Embrace.  

  • Innovia are Jonny Monro, Edward Moia, Louise Harper, Louise Trueman, Elisha Nicholls, Daria Borkowska, Pamela Baczkowska and Managing Director Alex Clarke. Together, they make bespoke photographic gifts. 

Alex, 20, from Leicester, who has also been nominated for Entrepreneurial Student of the Year in the competition, said: “We use photographs to capture letters in the world around us and turn them into beautiful, personalised photo gifts, perhaps of someone’s name or a place or a significant word. It has proved really popular. We’ve sold a few already and have orders in now to produce more.

“It’s really fun to do and helps us to learn about roles in the business that we might want to do – and at the end of it we could pursue this as a business and we are looking into this as a possibility. 

“Being in the finals definitely carries weight, as it is on our home territory!  It is an honour to be put forward and to take part here in Chester – there is a lot of pressure riding on us! 

“We’ve had an offer from a local firm in Wrexham to design our logo, as they liked our product idea so much.” 

  • Embrace is making a fashion statement with leather bracelets which double up as USB pen drives. The team is Jeremy Griffiths, Luke Pearson, Matt Smith, Josh Johnson, Jack Boswell and Managing Director Ben Summers.

Ben, 19, from Newport in Shropshire, said: “We all came up with an idea and then we voted on two before Jeremy’s idea for the bracelet was chosen, back in October last year. It has been hard work but enjoyable and definitely worthwhile.” 

  • BBCozy has created traditional baby slings. The group includes Managing Director, Hannah Kennedy-Haynes with four international students – Vincent Granados from France, Fernando Rojos from Spain and Jeremy Lee from Brunei.

Hannah, 24, from Chester, said: “We wanted to do something different and we thought a baby product would not be a stereotypical student choice. I think our group is really interesting because we’re from all over the world and we’d never met before we started working together. 

“I’m quite nervous about the pitching but I’m really looking forward it.” 

Andy Firr, Young Enterprise Start Up Manager, said: “The NW Start Up Final is a response to the phenomenal growth and demand from students and universities looking to integrate a hands on, real life business experience alongside academic studies, increasing graduate employment prospects. 

“The students will showcase the products and services they’ve developed over the past year and will be grilled by our expert panel of judges, who will be scrutinising their business reports and profit margins. 

“Young Enterprise believes in young people ‘learn by doing.’ We’re proud to be working with partners to support over 200 undergraduate businesses in the North West this year. 

“Young Enterprise couldn’t exist without the vital support from our local business volunteers and I’d like to thank them all for their hard work this year, as well as Department for International Trade, DWF LLP, English Speaking Board, O2, John Lewis and Home Bargains for their support of this event.” 

Connie Hancock, Head of Department for Business and Management at the University’s Business School and who teaches the Entrepreneurship students, said: “The Business School’s partnership with Young Enterprise allows our students to showcase their outstanding entrepreneurial endeavour, honed by the course sessions. 

“I’m so proud of all of our students, as they’ve worked really hard to get their new ventures up and running. To have reached the Regional Final is testament indeed to their efforts. At the University of Chester, we endeavour to provide all of our students with opportunities that are not just simply targeting employability enhancement, but also equip them to become job creators and business leaders in their own right.” 

Professor Clare Schofield, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University added: “I am absolutely delighted that three of our high calibre student start-ups are through to the regional final and that we are hosting the competition here in Chester Business School for the first time.  It is absolutely in keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit we foster here at the Business School and we are proud to be nurturing the business leaders of the future.”