An entrepreneurial philosophy undergraduate who has developed a range of home-made healthy dog food is this year's winner of the Sir Peter Thompson Enterprise Award.
The annual event, organised by the Universitys business start-up service Spark, is open to current students as well as graduates, with the winner receiving an award of £5,000. Serial entrepreneur Sir Peter Thompson is an alumnus of the University of Leeds and selects the winner each year: There is always a wide range of enterprising business ideas coming out of the University and the winners are chosen for their business idea and its potential impact on the UK's economic, social or cultural prosperity, he says.
This years winner is Sophie Tregellis with her fledgling company, Top Collar. My dog biscuits have different flavours and are made with human-grade ingredients, says Sophie. I hadnt originally considered the idea as a serious business proposition until a chat with the University Careers Centre changed my mind.
Further advice from Spark convinced Sophie that her idea had potential. Spark believed that the business could be a success they saw that I am passionate about dog health and wellbeing, she says. In between submitting coursework, Sophie put together a formal plan for the business after speaking to professional services advisors. Its fantastic to have won the prize so early on in the companys development, she says. Im busy finalising the Top Collar website and will use the prize money to fund hand-made production of the range using my recipes, freeing me up to promote the brand.
Sophie has been allocated space to sell her range at Handpicked Hall, a community of independent retailers based in Leeds Grand Arcade which launches in the summer. This is a great opportunity to work among other specialist producers and learn from them and shows that other people also have belief in my business, she says.
A second award has been made by Sir Peter Thompson this year. Final year medicine undergraduate, Wendy Matthews, has developed a non-invasive medical device to stop nose bleeds and received a £5,000 research award, enabling her to develop a prototype of her device. I had the idea after working on hospital wards and seeing how problematic nose bleeds could be, says Wendy. My device can be used in hospitals, but could also be used in sports and with children.
Spark Business Adviser, Kairen Skelley, says: Awarding two prizes is testament to the calibre of student entrepreneurs and their business ideas which come through Spark each year. We have seen a large increase in the number of student and graduate entrepreneurs coming in to see Spark over the last few years and we are getting busier and busier as time goes on. To combine entrepreneurial spirit with demanding undergraduate degree courses shows how inspired and dedicated these students are. The fantastic opportunities like the one offered by Sir Peter Thompson will spur them on to business success.
For further information, photographs of the winners, or to arrange interviews, contact:
Louise Lennon Cook (Campus PR) Tel: 0113 357 2104 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Spark is a business start-up service, based at the University of Leeds Careers Centre, which advises and assists students and graduates who are interested in self-employment or setting up a business. Spark is funded through the Higher Education Innovation Fund. More information can be found at http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/spark/.
The Sir Peter Thompson Award is given annually to promising entrepreneurs from the University of Leeds and is worth £5,000. Sir Peter Thompson is an alumnus of the University of Leeds who was knighted in 1984 for his part in the employee-led privatisation of NFC Plc. He is currently the Life President of Child Base Ltd and continues in the role of Chairman and 'Business Angel' to a number of private companies in a diverse range of industries including green energy distribution, land trading, medical analysis and theatre production companies.
The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk