2012 Grand Final Invitation

Member Article

North East universities prepare for business plan competition

Students from the region’s five universities will again go head to head in this year’s Blueprint Awards, the North East Universities’ Business Planning Competition, despite the competition now operating without any public sector funding.

Now in its ninth year, the Blueprint Awards, with the support of the North East Business community will see students and academic staff from the Universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside compete against each other to present the most compelling business plans to some of the region’s leading business experts at the Regional Grand Final in late October.

Blueprint, widely recognised as a significant supporter of the region’s knowledge economy, has aided a wide range of pre start-up and recently established companies go on to commercial success, and following last year’s additional help and support offered to all finalists from mentors through the Meet the Finalists event, the organisers envisage that, even more entrants in 2012 will make the successful transition from concept to reality.

Brian Tanner, Dean of Knowledge Transfer at Durham University and co-founder of Blueprint said: “The very fact that these awards are taking place this year without the significant financial resource previously provided by public sector funding, is testament to Blueprint’s lasting legacy in the region and the importance that our business leaders place on nurturing the talent that evolves throughout the competition process.

“Despite tough economic conditions we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the private sector, who have not only supported the awards financially but also in kind, offering their professional expertise to advise and mentor the finalists throughout the competition.

“Over the past nine years, the awards have enabled a number of businesses to turn their business plans in to reality. Last year’s Creativity & Design winner “The *Tea Shed”, whose speciality teas and merchandise are sold regionally in outlets such as Fenwicks, Newcastle and The Marriott, Sunderland, have rapidly spread across the UK. Products are stocked by the popular store Topshop - London, and in outlets as far afield as Switzerland.”

Sean Nicolson, partner and head of technology at Dickinson Dees, long term supporter of Blueprint, and host of the forthcoming Pilot Your Pitch event said: “Despite the financial challenges of the past few years we remain dedicated in our support for the Blueprint competition. Over the past nine years we have recognised the competition as being a major driving force in the development of high growth technology businesses from the North East’s universities, from which the whole regional economy benefits.

“The region’s universities are at the forefront of advances in a wide range of technologies and the Blueprint competition provides an excellent focal point to help develop world leading research into viable and profitable companies.”

Second time sponsor of the competition Procter & Gamble’s Phil Souter said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Blueprint Awards again this year. The competition is a prominent contributor in developing our region’s knowledge economy at a time when it is needed most. The Awards ceremony is an excellent way of celebrating the innovative ideas being spun out of the North East Universities and we look forward to another dazzling array of concepts in this year’s competition.”

The Blueprint Grand Final will take place on October 25 and the organisers are currently seeking sponsorship from north east businesses both financially and in kind. Award sponsors will gain first hand insight into the innovative and commercial ideas coming out of the region’s Universities and can offer their professional expertise to help turn these ideas in to commercial ventures.

For more information about the competition – entry, sponsorship opportunities or tickets for the grand final – visit www.blueprintcompetition.co.uk.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jill Flowers .

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