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Bright sparks battle it out Dragons’ Den-style

8 October 2009

Forty students from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England fought to secure their share of a £5,000 prize fund in the University of Bristol’s annual ‘Spark’ entrepreneurial start-up course last month.

The four-day course, held at the end of September, was designed to help students develop their entrepreneurial skills and help turn their bright ideas into new businesses. During the course, students were given practical advice, seminars, information and a series of challenges. They then undertook the gruelling task of pitching their business plans to a panel of venture capitalists, industry experts (HP Labs), successful business owners (alumni) and business experts from the University.

The two winners, who shared the £5,000 between them, come from the University of the West of England. The prize money will be used to further develop their social enterprise – an enterprise which helps illiterate sections of society communicate more effectively.

The course was run in the ‘Bristol Hub’ business start-up space above the Arnolfini on Bristol’s Harbourside and featured guest speakers including Nick Sturge from the SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre, Michael Berger, co-founder of the Caffe Gusto, chain and the entrepreneurs behind the new Friska Food cafe in Bristol.

Dave Jarman, Enterprise Skills and Education Manager in Research and Enterprise Development, said: ‘My colleague George Mills and I wanted to develop a course for students that would really test their entrepreneurial skills. Spark09 is the fifth consecutive course run by the University of Bristol and each year the standard of business ideas goes from strength to strength.’

Jon Slinn, owner of Rockshore and an alumnus of the University, commented: ‘Spark09 is light years ahead of the support I received as a student wanting to run my own business – it is an excellent programme.’

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