Web and graphic design agency, Creode, has been named as the winner of the University of Leeds' annual business plan competition.
Luke Harrison (21) and James Hannaford (22) founded Creode, which provides the full range of branding, design and web services, following graduation from the University in the summer of 2008. The company already has some high profile clients in its portfolio, including children's TV programme Big & Small which is broadcast on CBeebies, the University of East London and the Northern Technology Institute. The company also employs two members of staff alongside Harrison and Hannaford.
The design sector in Leeds is particularly competitive when compared to other northern cities, according to Harrison, who says Creode has a strong unique selling point. He said: "We keep our focus on accessibility. It's becoming increasingly important to companies that their online and offline marketing tools are accessible to all, whether it's people with special needs or those using older technology and it's something we're passionate about."
Jonathan Craig is a Lending Manager at Partnership Investment Finance and was on the judging panel for the competition. He said: "Creode have put together a compelling and realistic business plan which outlines a sound platform for further growth. The judging panel considered that James and Luke put across a clear strategy that they can implement to build upon the strong base established over the first six months of trading".
The University of Leeds' business plan competition, SPARK, is run by the University's Careers Centre. The winners of the competition, which is judged by a panel drawn from Leeds' professional services community, receive a prize of £1500, whilst second and third prize winners receive £1000 and £500 respectively. As this year's winners, Creode will automatically be entered for the Regional Enterprise Awards, the winners of which will be announced at Venturefest Yorkshire on 11 February.
This year's second prize was awarded to Dr Olga Kubassova who was awarded Yorkshire Forward's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008. Dr Kubassova's company, Image Analysis produces software products and systems for users of MRI equipment, enabling doctors and medical researchers to explore and analyse MRI data, which is often acquired from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer and other inflammatory conditions. Dr Kubassova gained her PhD from the School of Computing at the University of Leeds in 2007, developing algorithms for automated data analysis. She is currently looking at developing products for areas of medicine such as cancer screening.
Third prize went to Caroline Mason, who opened the Lilliputs Montaditos Bar in Headingley last year. Having graduated from the University in 2007, Caroline spent a year working in food outlets to gain some hands-on experience before starting her own business. "I'm really pleased to have been recognised in the competition," she said. "Business is going from strength to strength and we're about to launch an outside catering and business meetings food service and I plan to use the prize money to help fund a launch materials for it."
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