SPARK business competitions
Spark Business Plan Competition 2024
Do you have a business idea? Have you already started a business and want to take it to the next level?
If you are a University of Leeds student, or someone who has graduated from the University of Leeds in the last seven years, then you could enter the University of Leeds Business Plan Competition 2024.
First Prize: £2,000
Second Prize: £1,250
Third Prize: £750
(Prizes available at both levels, pre-start and trading up to 24 months)
Apply Now! (Deadline 10.00am 13th February 2024)
Announcement of finalists: Tuesday 20th February 2024
Finalists Presentations: Tuesday 27th and Friday 1st March 2024
Winner’s announcement: Monday 4th March 2024
Business Plan Awards Ceremony: Wednesday 13th March 2024
For more information contact Angela Archer:
Tel: 0113 343 2551 (Mon-Fri 9.00am - 4.00pm)
Organised by Spark, the University’s business start-up team, the prestigious Business Plan Competition is open to both undergraduates and alumni who graduated up to 7 years ago.
This annual competition awards prizes in two main categories: Pre-trading and Trading up to 24 months, with the winners of each receive a prize of £2,000. Altogether, the total of prizes awarded this year approaches £10,000.
Kairen Skelley – Spark’s Head of Business Start-Up
“We are always incredibly impressed by the high calibre of entries we receive from our enterprising students and graduates. The brilliant business plans we judged this year were from individuals across all faculties, leading to a diverse mix of applications, and this competition allows us to shine a spotlight on their talent, innovation and creativity”
Business Plan Competition Winners 2023
First place in the trading category was won by Rosie Musk, a first-year student studying Business Management with Marketing. Rosie, a current Spark Enterprise Scholar, primarily focuses on coaching females through a subscription coaching platform, Team Rosie, offering 24/7 support to her clients in order to develop a correct understanding of a healthy lifestyle to ultimately reach their wellbeing goals.
“In regards to women in particular, I’ve seen first-hand how important community is, with clients regularly expressing their preference for team discussions, meet-ups and personal motivation”.
First place in the pre-trading category was awarded to third year Electronic and Electrical Engineering student Zachary Morgan for his business, Make Maths Easier. Make Maths Easier is a children’s educational platform for both mobile and web applications. Zachary has already created the mobile application and a website to display information about a child’s educational journey, creating unique worksheets and allowing teachers to track their pupils progress.
“The USP of Make Maths Easier is the fact that there are no educational platforms that have specifically tailored educational lessons for pupils and then convey the results to teachers and we have managed to plug that gap”.
Special recognition award Ritu Munshi currently taking an Msc Masters in Advanced Computer Science received a special recognition award from Spark for her business concept, The Closet Concierge, an innovative AI personal stylist providing customized fashion recommendations to users based on their personal style, body shape, skin tone, and occasion based on clothes they already own and clothes which they might want to buy.
The full list of winners: Trading category
First prize - £2000: Rosie Musk – Team Rosie Fitness Training
Second prize - £1250: Anatoly Safiulov – Studyply - an online educational platform
Third equal - £750: Sid Adams - My Adventure Project - a UK based Australian travel agency
Third equal - £750: Russell Ives – So Papo’s – agave based cocktails
The full list of winners: Pre-trading category
First prize - £2000: Zachary Morgan - Make Maths Easier – online maths educational platform
Second prize - £1250: Sol Harter & Matthew Twitchen - Ludwig Devices - decibel meters
Third prize - £750: Ziah Shamil Bicha - The Trailblazers of Yesterday – children’s books
Spark special recognition award
Ritu Munshi- The Closet Concierge – AI personal stylist
Top enterprise award is music to students’ ears
A product addressing a gap in the home music production industry, spotted by two Music, Multimedia and Electronics students, has won the University of Leeds’ Sir Peter Thompson Enterprise Award.
The prestigious annual award, organised by the University’s business start-up service, Spark, comes with a huge cash prize of £5,000 generously gifted by Mr Michael Collins, Chairman at Goldcrest Custom Homes Ltd.
This year’s winners are friends and business partners, Sol Harter and Matthew Twitchen (both 22), whose business venture, Ludwig Devices, will design and manufacture small affordable decibel meters for the burgeoning home music production community.
“The idea came about through a chance conversation,” explains Sol. “Matt and I are both music producers with home studios. We both independently tried to by a low-cost decibel meter designed for small production studios and neither of us could find one because such a product didn’t exist. We thought this was bizarre, considering how useful it would be to the huge numbers of ‘bedroom’ Producers, DJs’ and musicians. It set us thinking that we had the skills and knowledge to design a low-cost version ourselves that amateur musicians could afford.”
The aim of their product is to prevent long-term hearing damage that can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud and persistent noise. Matthew explains: “The threshold for hearing damage is 85 decibels, but the most popular and commonly used monitoring speakers for home studios have a maximum decibel rating of 100-110 decibels. There are decibel measuring tools available for building sites, factories and nightclubs but these products are not suitable – or affordable - for the home environment, so it’s an untapped market for us.”
The Sir Peter Thompson Award requires selected students and graduate entrepreneurs to present their business ventures to a judging panel. Mr Collins, who chaired the panel, said: Matthew and Sol had an exceptionally well thought out product and business plan. They were the only candidates for Sir Peter’s prize to have already thought about and incorporated responses to challenges and suggestions made by myself and the panel, or had a detailed plan to do so.
“It was very impressive.” Says Sol: “The cash prize is an incredible boost and we’re very grateful to Spark and to Mr Collins. It means we can now accelerate our plans and go straight from concept to an initial production run with minimal additional fundraising.”
Matt and Sol are already researching components for their first prototype and will be designing a custom Printed Circuit Board using the embedded systems development and design skills honed in their university degree. They hope to be able to launch their first product in around six months’ time, with a first small run of around 500 units.
Kairen Skelley, head of Student start-up at Spark, said: “The Spark team wholeheartedly encourages, supports and celebrates student enterprise across the board, whatever the inspiration or target market. But it is especially exciting to see Sol and Matt using knowledge and expertise gained from their degree studies here to develop a novel business venture with such great potential!”
Watch this space for future competitions