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York Students Bloom in Business Enterprise Competition for White Rose Universities

Posted on 31 July 2003

Locally produced food and people missing out on benefits inspire York entrepreneurs

Bright young student teams from the University of York were awarded the top prize of £10,000 and a runners-up prize of £1,000 (of mentoring support) in The White Rose Centre for Enterprise (WRCE) annual Business Plan Competition.

The Competition is open to students and recent graduates from the three White Rose Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield. Students are required to develop an original business idea, but get support along the way from Business Development staff.

Helping people claim their benefits

CitizenDirect, this year's top winning team from York, presented a business idea intended to help identify those people who are missing out on claiming means-tested benefits. This is an issue which local authorities and public-sector organisations have tried to improve, but find difficult without knowing who is missing out.

Team members, 24 year-old Paul Dornan, a final year PhD student in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, and John Hudson, a lecturer within the same department state, "Our business will help them in doing this. It will market a service that uses sophisticated modelling techniques to isolate who is most likely to be missing out on their benefits, and use private and public data to target them more effectively with information about their rights."

It is the second time the top prize has gone to the University of York, Skycell won the competition in 2001, and are now a fully-fledged business with an office in the Innovation Centre on York Science Park.

48 entries for the White Rose competition were received in December 2002 and 18 teams were short-listed by the Centre to submit a full written business plan. Seven teams were then invited to present their ideas to the panel of judges in July.

Liz Reade, Centre Manager at the WRCE in Sheffield said, "The standard was extremely high this year, all with innovative and interesting ideas from designer clothing for the disabled to long skate board design and manufacture." She added that the three winning teams were all exceptionally strong, giving superb presentations, but overall CitizenDirect impressed the judges most.

Love of Food

The other finalists from the University of York, the Love of Food team, were awarded a runners-up prize of £1,000-worth of mentoring support from the WRCE to help get their business off the ground. Team member Jason Schweiger, 22, who graduated this summer from the University with a MChem degree said that the team's business idea was driven by the growing market for high quality, locally produced, and traceable food.

"The Love Of Food concept is centred upon a friendly, fully integrated, and local service", he said "whereby the consumer can confidently achieve a one-stop-shop for produce that falls under this banner, and have it delivered to their door by a professional and customer focused team".

Martin Doxley, Chief Executive of the White Rose University Consortium said, "White Rose is keen to help develop the spirit of enterprise amongst students and staff. The Business Plan Competition communicates the sense of excitement that surrounds new ventures and helps people realise the massive potential of business creation in helping them achieve their dreams and ambitions for the future".

Other winners included two teams from the University of Sheffield, Lush Longboards, who design and manufacture skateboards for the more mature market such a surfers, and Studentcomp, a student supplier of IT equipment who run a successful retail shop and are aiming to expand with shops on campuses across the country. Each won £5,000.

Notes to editors:

  • All the winners will receive their prizes at the Enterprise in Action event, to be hosted by Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor, University of York, in November at the new Roger Kirk building on the University of York campus.
  • Martin Doxey is the Chief Executive of White Rose University Consortium and Bob Handscombe is Director of WRCE. The White Rose website can be found at

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153