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Students vying for top entrepreneur award

Three teams of University of St Andrews students have reached the final of the National Business Plan Competition with inventions including a vending machine supplier that provides healthy drinks and snacks for gym users.

They will find out if they have been successful at the largest national gathering of student entrepreneurs in the world in Dundee on Wednesday 1 March.

The Dragons’ Den style competition, divided into both Undergraduate and Postgraduate categories is organised by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) which aims to stimulate entrepreneurship in higher education institutions. The competition aims to encourage young people to show entrepreneurial spirit by coming up with cutting edge ideas and developing these into workable business plans. The first prize of £10,000 is composed of a £5,000 cash prize plus up to £5,000 in- kind business start up support, with the opportunity to patent their idea. A total prize fund of £40,000 is on offer.

The final comes as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows Scotland climbing to the head of the first division of UK regions by new business activity, and the impact of enterprise training on levels of entrepreneurial activity – doubling the likelihood of setting up a business.

The finalists from St Andrews are:

· Nutricover – Freddie Bourne and Tim Sydor – the first vending machine supplier in the UK to provide gym users with healthy, tasty and rewarding products (Postgraduate).

· IE (Interactively Efficient) Ventures Ltd – Henrik Ljung and Calle Nilsson – world- class e-commerce solutions tailor- made to fit with Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) organisations and their business models (Undergraduate).

· Ducartis GbR – Reinhard Hoell and Marc Peter Thomson – a cognitive enhancement project (Undergraduate).

The teams from St Andrews will be joined by finalists from 16 other higher education institutions in Scotland, involving 38 teams, who will attend the SIE Student Enterprise Summit in Dundee’s Caird Hall, the largest national gathering of student entrepreneurs in the world. Here the winners will be announced and prize presentations made, a special prize will also be awarded for Social entrepreneurship. Guest speakers at the event include Simon Woodroffe, the driving force behind YO! Sushi and one of the starts of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den; Dan Germain, co-founder of Innocent Drinks; Chris Gorman, serial entrepreneur and founder of mobile phone retailer DX Communications and star of Channel 4’s ‘Make me a Million’; and Tim Smit, spearhead of the campaign behind the creation of the Eden Project.

Sharon Bamford, chief executive of SIE said: “We are delighted with the very high standard of entries that we’ve received. There’s been a diverse range of business ideas from enterprising individuals who, in addition to undertaking their studies are also developing businesses start ups of great potential. Competitions like the National Business Plan competition are a great way to encourage the entrepreneurs of tomorrow who will make a vital contribution to the Scottish economy.”

SIE is advising universities in Slovenia on setting up a national business plan competition, and has also advised Kenya and Jordan. Currently in its fifth year, 2006 sees an increase in entries of 5% in the National Business Plan Competition, with 41 teams of students from 17 of Scotland’s higher education institutions taking part.

For those students wanting to attend, further information is available on www.sie.ac.uk. The summit is free to attend, with free transport provided.

NOTE TO EDITORS

· The Scottish Institute for Enterprise (www.sie.ac.uk) was created in 1999 with the aim of boosting the commercialisation potential of university science and technology research. It was formally launched in 2000 with funding from the Office of Science and Technology and currently embraces 20 Scottish Higher Education Institutions.

· The SIE whilst retaining its focus on science engineering and technology within institutions also targets 3 new areas of enterprise activities: social enterprise, enterprise for the visual and performing arts, and enterprise skills and leadership for university clubs and societies

· Portfolio careers, more young people than ever entering higher education and increasing international competition requires a culture of enterprise with individuals equipped and ready for the 21st century work-place.

For further information, please contact Alex Orr or Gillian Woolsey at Consolidated Communications on 0131 240 6420, or email Scotland@consol.co.uk.

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