Grand Idea business competition celebrates student enterprise

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) held its 10th annual Grand Idea awards evening on Thursday 8 June, celebrating student success and RAU’s continued commitment to student enterprise.

Established in 2008, the Grand Idea business competition gives students the opportunity to pitch their business idea to panel of expert judges, in the hope of winning a valuable cash injection and a bundle of in kind prizes. To celebrate RAU’s 10 year anniversary, the winner will receive a bumper prize pot worth £10,000.

The 2017 Grand Idea winner was Luke Craven (BSc (Hons) International Business Management) and Adam Gray with their business BiJimini – offering eco-friendly farming for future generations. BiJimini produce ‘PowerFlour’, a premixed cricket flour which can be used in baking to add protein. Cricket flour is a cost and energy efficient alternative to traditional protein sources.

As the Grand Idea winners their prizes will include: membership to the Institute of Directors and Enterprise Nation, a lunch for two at the Kings Head Hotel, and a marketing consultancy meeting with RAU alumnus and founder of Agro Mavens, Adrian Bell. The cash prize has been supported by DCS Group, Christine Cross Ltd, Amersi Foundation, Inclusive Ventures, and Harrison Clark Rickerbys solicitors.

The Grand Idea runner-up was Anna Howlett (BSc (Hons) International Equine and Agricultural Business Management) with her business Anna Howlett Art. Anna will receive £500 to invest in to her business. She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have won the runner-up prize. I know that it will really help me develop and grow my business.”

The judges for Grand Idea 2017 included Denys Shortt OBE (Chair), CEO and Founder of DCS Group; Professor Jo Price, RAU Vice-Chancellor; Ian Wilkinson, Managing Director of Cotswold Seeds; Christine Cross, global retail consultant; and Gillian Higgins, RAU alumna and founder of Horses Inside Out, who gave a speech at the awards evening.

Denys Shortt said: “I am delighted to have been involved for all 10 years of the Grand Idea. It is inspiring to meet the students and help them with their business plans and in many cases to launch their careers. It is a great competition and leads right into the RAU’s Farm491 agritech innovation, which provides the physical space and support for these businesses to start their journey.”

The RAU has continued to grow its enterprise offering, launching two more awards based on its nationally recognised enterprise model: ‘Think it’, ‘Try it’, ‘Launch it’, ‘Grow it’.

The ‘Try it’ Award winner was Kara Minto-Simpson (MSc Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security) with her business TUB, the low maintenance pot based growing system for the home. Kara has already received £250 of First Steps Funding to test her business idea and prove the concept (a prerequisite to enter this award). The ‘Try it’ award prize pot of £500 will provide the next step and help her further her business idea.

The ‘Think it’ Award winner was Harry Devlin (BSc (Hons) International Business Management) and Harry Phipps (BSc (Hons) Bloodstock and Performance Horse Management) with their shoe business Devlin & Phipps, which aims to bring a splash of colour to the shoe industry.

Over the past 10 years, Grand Idea has received 91 business ideas and enabled many students to launch and grow a successful business. In 2015/6, nine student businesses were launched, thanks to the help and support of the RAU’s dedicated Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme.

IOEE’s Chief Executive, Sarah Trouten, attended the Grand Ideas awards and said:

“I was delighted to be able to attend the RAU and be a part of their 10th  celebratory awards event. It was fantastic to witness the tremendous enthusiasm and commitment of Katy and her team there at RAU who have inspired and supported countless young people to go on to start their own business.”