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Students pitch in to show off their business ideas

Enterprising students earned a major boost for their business ideas, thanks to a Swansea University competition.

The Big Pitch saw 42 future entrepreneurs share their proposals and battle it out to win from a number of business support packages including financial investment to get the ideas off the ground.

[aoa id=”1″]The event – now in its second year – saw a panel of esteemed judges from industry, Welsh Government and investors consider 25 different ideas and £70,000 worth of seed corn funding requests, before handing out more than £7,350 to seven different student business ideas and start-ups.[/aoa]

Ahead of the competition the participants were able to take advantage of special workshops organised by Swansea University’s Enterprise team based in the Department of Research, Engagement and Innovation Services (REIS),which gave them valuable advice on how to develop their ideas and exactly how to pitch them effectively.

The aim of The Big Pitch, held in the Great Hall at the University’s Bay campus, is to raise awareness of entrepreneurship and to help students develop valuable skills that will benefit their future careers.

Emma Dunbar, the University’s Head of Engagement, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said she was delighted to see the competition going from strength to strength.

She said: “With the recent launch of our Student Entrepreneurship Strategy, we recognise the importance to provide our students with opportunities to test and validate their business ideas in a safe environment, gain valuable real life experiences and to develop their skills to meet the challenges ahead.

“We also understand that not all our students aspire to be entrepreneurs, but nevertheless, would like them to gain an entrepreneurial mind-set and the skills to prepare them for a world of uncertainty and opportunities, and an increasingly competitive labour market.”

The students each gave a three-minute pitch to the four judges – Welsh Government Youth Entrepreneurship Manager Ann Swift, Guy Wendon, of the Alacrity Foundation, Visit Digital founder Lee Woodman and Tomas Llewelyn Barrett, Relationship Manager, Santander Universities.

Besides the funding awarded via Santander Universities’ investment, students were also made aware of WAVE, Swansea University’s own crowdfunding platform, as a way of securing financial support for their ideas.

Kelly Jordan, Entrepreneurship Officer said the Big Pitch has been a great success: “This year the entrants came from all seven of the University’s Schools and Colleges and from all academic years – from first years to PhD students.

“We also awarded office space to students so they can network, share and work on their ideas. Space has now been allocated to allow 12 students to have access to the University’s Student Incubation Hub.”

Successful student Holly Tree said: “I stepped out of my comfort zone and I could not be more proud of myself, I stood up in front of an audience of my peers and delivered an elevator pitch for an entrepreneurship placement opportunity.”

In addition nine students won themselves entrepreneurial work placements and six were awarded places on the University’s new Test Your Idea-Accelerator Programme which takes place next month.

The  five-day intensive course consists of interactive sessions run by industry experts covering all aspects of business enabling students to test, validate and accelerate their business idea, ready for start-up.

Kelly added: “At Swansea University, we are fully committed to student entrepreneurship.

“The enterprise team helps students and graduates develop their skills through workshops, initiatives and gain valuable experiences to help you start your own business, be it self-employed, a social enterprise, freelancing or a tech business.”