Imperial College London

Student entrepreneurs win £25,000 to develop their innovative idea

New Business Challenge

Final of the New Business Challenge celebrates College’s entrepreneurial spirit - <em>News</em>

Monday 17 March 2008
By Naomi Weston

A group of budding student entrepreneurs won £25,000 last week at the final of the New Business Challenge at Imperial College London.

The College-wide business plan competition, organised by Tanaka Business School and held on Thursday 13 March, provides both undergraduates and postgraduates with an opportunity to develop and present business ideas in a realistic environment.

The winning interdisciplinary team won the prestigious prize for their device called Tap Sprinkler, which focuses on providing quick and easy fire protection in the kitchen. It is a sprinkler system that aims to reduce the number of domestic fires that start in the home.

Winners

The winning team

Yusuf Muhammad, a second year student from the Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) course, was part of the winning team. He said: “I’m in shock! We thought we had a good chance but there are so many other great ideas here, I can’t believe it! I think the key to our success is our interdisciplinary team. Between us we have a lot of great ideas.”

The other members of the winning team include Paul Thomas and Jeung Whoo-Choi, who are also studying on the IDE course and William Makant and Alan Hart, MBA students in Imperial’s Business School.

What will the team do next? “Our next step will be to develop the prototype we have put together and test it. Then we will look for further funding in the future to help with marketing and getting the product out there as soon as possible,” explains Yusuf.

Ten student teams reached the final and in a tense finish they each gave a last one minute pitch on their business plan. In total 41 business plans were submitted involving over 120 students.

Business ideas included a system to provide low energy cooling for indoor spaces, an interactive product to help you through the cooking process and a device for a bicycle enabling up to four full plastic carrier bags to be carried.

Rector of the College, Sir Richard Sykes, said, “This is a great event, because entrepreneurship is at the heart of what Imperial is all about, and what it has always been about. We carry out ground-breaking fundamental research, of course - but we also have our eye firmly on how our work can be applied to benefit people wherever they may be, improving quality of life in big or small ways.” He added: “Innovation is about seeing the opportunities which are often simple ideas.”

Sabrina Kiefer, Business Plan Manager at Imperial’s Entrepreneurship Centre, explains how they chose the winning team: “The panel of judges believed the finalists had the passion to succeed as a team, use the money to grow their business and develop a compelling product to solve a market need.”

The New Business Challenge forms half of the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge which consists of the Ideas Challenge in the Autumn term and the New Business Challenge in the Spring term. Students can enter both or either of the challenges.

The Ideas Challenge teaches students how to generate ideas and market them. Students need to submit a 1,200 word summary on their business opportunity. The New Business Challenge focuses on writing a ten page business plan and understanding the financial and intellectual property aspects of launching a new product.

A key part of the Challenge is the series of events and seminars the Entrepreneurship Centre run to help students develop their ideas. For example there were lectures on intellectual property, marketing and understanding the financial aspects of launching a product.

For more information please see: Entrepreneurs' Challenge