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York’s entrepreneurial year concludes in style

Four of the University of York’s best young entrepreneurial businesses ended the academic year in style by competing in the first Exciting New Ventures at York (ENVY) competition.


ENVY finalists Charlie Simpson-Daniel, Wenwen Shi, Alex Chow and Charlie Thuillier (front row) are pictured with the competition judges at the Ron Cooke Hub.
Winner Charlie Thuillier, a Social Policy graduate, was awarded the top £2,000 prize for his healthy ice-cream brand Oppo - a dairy and sugar free ice-cream made from natural ingredients. The idea for the product developed during a trip to South America and judges were impressed with the market research and ambition which had gone into it.

Organised by the University’s Careers team and funded by Santander, the ENVY competition attracted 24 high quality entries from York students or recent graduates presenting their own business ideas. 

The three other finalists were Citizen Scientist, a website designed to engage new participants in scientific research; Targetuni, a service that enables Chinese students to evaluate and select UK universities for further study; and Kings Biltong, a high protein snack food aimed at the sports market.

The finalists presented their plans to an audience of student and local entrepreneurs at a special enterprise dinner at the Ron Cooke Hub.  The judging panel included Sophie Jewett, York alumna and founder of York Cocoa House, Jo North, founder of the Big Bang Partnership, and Jack Marsh and Luke Ellis from Santander.  They were supported by an audience vote for the most innovative concept.

The award for the most robust plan went to Charlie Simpson-Daniel, a second year Management student, for his product King’s Biltong.  He will soon expand his production facilities by taking up new premises on the Castle Howard estate where he will have access to high quality beef from farms in Cumbria and Yorkshire.

The Student Enterprise Centre (SEC), which forms part of Careers, has met over 100 promising student start-ups

Andrew Ferguson

PhD in Education student Wenwen Shi won the audience vote for innovation with her university selection website which combines hard information with current student insights. The new service could revolutionise how China’s enormous student market makes its institutional choices.

Andrew Ferguson, Assistant Director: Business, Community & Enterprise, Careers, said:  “The ENVY competition concludes an exciting year for entrepreneurship at York.  The Student Enterprise Centre (SEC), which forms part of Careers, has met over 100 promising student start-ups. In addition, the first of a regular series of events in London drew together a wide range of alumni offering a huge pool of potential expertise for younger entrepreneurs to tap into.   

“Use of the Student Enterprise Space in the Ron Cooke Hub has also increased as the number of business registered to hot desk there rose to over 50 for the first time.” 

Further information

  • Over the last year, the Student Enterprise Centre disbursed £8,000 of proof of concept funding to student and recent graduate businesses to help them explore the market potential of their ideas.
  • For the first time, the SEC has had access to a special fund, made available by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) through umbrella organisation UnLtd, to support new social enterprises.  This fund has supported eight new enterprises with social and community aims initiated by students and staff.
  • The Student Enterprise Space is located in the Springboard area of the Ron Cooke Hub, alongside full time start-up businesses.  The Space is free to use for current students and provides an excellent introduction to the value of working in York Science Park-run office space and, more widely, the supportive environment York has for entrepreneurs.
  • For further information on enterprising activity visit www.york.ac.uk/careers/enterprise