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UCL Bright Ideas 2011 Winners Announced

6 May 2011

UCL Awards

On 24th March 2011, 10 UCL student teams participated in the final round of the UCL Bright Ideas Competition. The competition started in February with 20 teams submitting business plans; only 10 were shortlisted to participate in the final and compete to receive part of the £50,000 financial support to be allocated.

The aim of the UCL Bright Ideas Awards is to support the development of new UCL student -led businesses where UCL does not have an existing commercial interest. Specifically, an annual fund of £50,000 is available to be offered as convertible loans: £25,000 for undergraduate led businesses and £25,000 for those led by postgraduate students. The loan provides the vital first funding for student companies that, without any business reputation, would otherwise struggle to get funding from traditional sources.

The UCL Bright Ideas competition is a realistic business process: student teams initially submit a detailed business plan; shortlisted teams then pitch ‘Dragon’s Den’ style to a judging panel of experienced business people and UCL enterprise staff, in front of an audience of the other competing bidding teams and students.

Following an intense pitching session and the judges’ hour-long retreat to select the winners, six student groups were finally selected to receive a loan, three from each category. The winners (in alphabetic order) are:

Undergraduate winners:

Brink: Brink will provide a technology based solution that improves the tracking and analysis of people in specific areas through the use of a base station and a mix of radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) technologies. William Hines (BSc Computer Science, 1st year), Brink’s creator, wishes to create a mobile tracking device that can be used for humanitarian purposes, such as search and rescue during natural disasters and fires. Brink was awarded £10,000: an initial £5,000 to cover the legal costs for the patent application, and a further £5,000 upon successful submission of his patent application.

Learnbuddy: Learnbuddy provides a new way of learning: combining multimedia and audio in an innovative and effective way that engages and educates. Founded by Olabode Raji (BSc Computer Science, 2nd year), based on his own learning experience. Ola was awarded £10,000 in financing to match the funding he has already won from Hackney Council for his initiative. Recognising that Ola has a great deal of passion and energy to create his idea, but lacks business experience, the judges made a condition on the loan that Ola works with a business mentor (who will be assigned via the UCL Advances SMILE (Selected Mentors & Interims for London Enterprises programme).

TagChats: “the fastest, most efficient way of making friends ever created”, developed by Alex Muller (BSc Computer Science, 1st year) and Ahmed Naveed (BEng Electronic Engineering, 2nd year), was the only student group to receive funding in excess of their original request; they received £5,000 having asked for only £3,000, clearly showing the potential of their idea. Alex and Ahmad met through Lillian Shapiro (student business advisor at UCL Advances), who had seen that they shared a common vision. TaqChats will be launched during Freshers Week in September.

Postgraduate winners:

Circalit: is an established e-business which enables novelists, screenwriters and playwrights to showcase their writing to film producers, book publishers and literary agents. An enthusiastic team of CEO Raoul Tawadey (a former UCL student-BSc Natural Sciences, 2008) and Robert Tucker (2nd Year English Literature PhD) presented Circalit, which is currently running from UCL Advances’ Hatchery. Having secured £10,000, the team wishes to invest in legal fees required to scale the business and create what they believe would be “Facebook for writers”. They also expressed great gratitude for the support received from the UCL Advances Business Advisor and Ruth Hou (SMILE Project Manager). Circalit is also a finalist in this year’s NACUE National Varsity Pitch competition; the finals will be held on May 10th.

FRAME Medical: Ricky Kotecha (MA PPE of Health) and Ali Atta-Ul (MSc Clinical and Experimental Medicine) represented Frame Medical, a health initiative aimed at providing support to primary care trusts dealing with patients suffering with type 2 diabetes. Ali, who had previously worked in this industry in Germany, spotted the opportunity during his studies here in the UK, and found a shared interest with colleague Ricky. They were awarded £4,330 on the condition of securing their first customer. In the last couple of months FRAME Medical has also won a Camden Innovation Central grant and a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas award.

Literary Kitchen: Andrea Mason (MSc Environment and Sustainable Development, 4th year) is the visionary writer behind Literary Kitchen who wishes to create “a social space for writers to get together and interact”. The space will also cater for beginners and more experienced writers who wish to be professional writers, with classes and support up to publication. Andrea was awarded £6,000 to grow her business further. She found the help and support from UCL Advances in preparation for the competition excellent, given her non-business background.

Tim Barnes, Executive Director at UCL Advances commented: “The level of entries this year was pleasingly high; the judges were particularly impressed with the standard achieved by the undergraduate teams, who one might expect to be less experienced than the postgraduates. We are confident that these businesses will progress well; UCL Advances will continue to support them as they grow”

The winners will be presented their awards at the annual UCL Awards for Enterprise Ceremony on Tuesday 17th May 2011 in the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre.

The Bright Ideas Awards Competition is organised by UCL Advances, a UCL centre specifically created to foster innovations and support entrepreneurial ventures that benefit society and the economy.

The 2011 UCL Bright Ideas Judging Panel

Har-preet Ahluwalia: Founder, UCL Student Venture: 309 Custom Clothing, and previous winner of a Bright Ideas award.

Yasine Mogharreban Armstrong: Associate, Flywheel Ventures

Tim Barnes: Executive Director, UCL Advances

Martin Caparrotta: Founder, UCL Student Venture: The Sport Review, and previous winner of a Bright Ideas award

Marina Santilli: Business Manager, UCL Business

Tom Scampion: Partner, Information & Technology Risk, Deloitte

Lillian Shapiro: Student Business Advisor, UCL Advances


UCL Bright Ideas Awards

UCL Advances Student Ventures

UCL Awards for Enterprise

UCL’s entrepreneurs are pitch-perfect in prestigious national competition

Shell LiveWIRE Awards toast the health of UCL entrepreneurs