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Last month I was invited to attend the recently relaunched Lancaster University Enterprise Awards. The event celebrates the way in which Lancaster students, alumni, and researchers have made an impact through entrepreneurship, covering a wide variety of areas, from Impactful Researchers to Sustainable Ventures. Each and every nominee brought a lot to the table, and competition was stiff up until the last hurdle.
The first award to be presented was for the Student Leader category, recognising those among the student body who utilised their entrepreneurial abilities to benefit their fellow Lancaster students. Among the nominees were Adam Stewart, for his blogging and podcasts about university life, and Lydia Ratto, for creating USocial Venture, a platform for increasing awareness and engagement with social entrepreneurship. The overall winners were the Black Excellence Networking Events Team, for their work in organising events such as the Black Excellence Networking day held in the management school at the end of the last academic year, which proved hugely successful and was done in conjunction with many other societies on campus, along with having high profile guest speakers attend.
Next was the knowledge exchange champion. This category sought to acknowledge the efforts of students who worked with an external organisation through internships, placements, or other means. Luke Brown won the day for his work with UK manufacturer Plastideck Ltd, who are keeping him on for his contributions to the company. After this were the Impactful Researcher and Sustainable Venture awards, won by Paul Whaley and Kaizen Academy, respectively. Then came the highlight of the evening, the Bright Sparks award. This category contained a 90 second video-pitch from each nominee detailing their business idea, with the potential to win £1000 to help fund it. After watching the shortlisted pitches, the audience was invited to judge and vote on which pitch we deemed the most convincing. Each entry was unique, with one team producing a fully animated pitch, but in the end Raymond Alake came away as the winner, and was rewarded with an oversized cheque on behalf of Santander.
The award ceremony itself was a great chance to raise awareness for Lancaster’s budding new enterprises, not just on campus but also in the wider Lancaster community, and will hopefully propel them to further success. The re-launching of the Enterprise Awards will no doubt encourage potential entrepreneurs to put their ideas to the test, helping to make the University a more attractive place for investors, as well as improving the day to day life of the student body. After an extremely successful restart, I can only look forward to the next awards being even better.