Santander Universities UK support Chester student start-ups.

Entrepreneurial spirit is as strong as ever at the University of Chester as Santander Universities UK recognises student start-ups for their innovative ideas.

Santander is supporting four enterprising student teams from across the University, nurturing the creative business talent of the future.

Despite lockdown and restrictions pausing the usual face-to-face pitch presentations and awards dinner held as part of the University’s Enterprise Challenge, each of the finalists has received significant investment in their ideas and financial backing for the launching of their businesses thanks to Santander Universities UK.

The Enterprise Challenge is organised annually by the University of Chester Business School and is open to all University of Chester students who have a business idea and want to secure feedback and support for their plans and business proposals.

The competition has been the spring-board for many talented Chester student businesses.

Last year’s winning team of business school students Jess Kelly and Ayoup Jarrai went on to represent the UK in the European Student Start-Up Finals in Oslo with their sustainable and ethical Argon Oil Co-operative, The Goat Tree.

This year’s teams are equally impressive, particularly in the face of the current pandemic constraints, demonstrating that entrepreneurial endeavour remains a career option for our students.

Events company, Event Meet Limited is one of the winning start-ups and the brainchild of Cheryl Sorensen, Jack Higgins, from Buckley, Flintshire and Conor Dangerfield, from Chester, all studying for a BA in Business Management.

The innovative start-up provides a digital platform for event organisers to promote their event with targeted audience engagement and the establishment of ‘fanships’.

The undergraduate Directors are thrilled to learn that they have now won funding from the Santander Enterprise Challenge.

Managing Director Cheryl said: “I had always been intrigued by the idea of starting my own business, but when I started at University, I did not have an idea about what that business could be, and I certainly was not expecting the immense levels of support and encouragement from peers and University staff – without it there would be no Event Meet!

At age 36, the mother of three teenage daughters from Ellesmere Port embarked on her university experience slightly later in life and is enjoying the success of the start-up business.

She said: “We are shocked and overjoyed to be awarded £1,000 of funding to continue development of Event Meet and when we got the news, we honestly were not expecting it at all. We have entered a few competitions over the course of the year (Young Enterprise University Challenge, The Venture Pitch 2020 and Tata Varsity Pitch 2020, powered by NACUE) and despite not always winning, we have aimed to hold our heads high, learn from the experience and improve for the next one and it has paid off!

“The funding we have received will go toward further developing our website, which is already currently in development and hopefully we will reach our goal of launching in 2021. A huge thank you to Dr Connie Hancock for all of her support, guidance and encouragement, as without the Entrepreneurship module: ‘Entrepreneurial Thought and Action’ module, and her knowledge, we would not be where we are today. Bring on 2021!”

MicroCell is the idea of Kia Prescott, a Biomedical Science student from Frodsham, Cheshire. Her business conducts research into the global antibiotic resistance epidemic.

Encore Amore is a cyclical clothing business, saving clothes from landfill by upcycling them into eye catching new clothing items. The Directors are Molly Canning, studying Business Management and from Liverpool; Maria Georgia Psarakis, studying Hospitality and from Manchester, Liandra Macmanus, studying Events Management and from Colwyn Bay.

Happy Harmonies brings music to children of all ages via online classes and was the idea of Ella Collier from Shrewsbury, who is studying Primary Education with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), at University Centre Shrewsbury.

Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director, Santander Universities UK said:“It is a tremendous pleasure for us to be part of the journey for such inspiring students and help them progress into their futures. To be able to see the vision and passion is a truly amazing experience.”

Dr Connie Hancock, Head of Department for Enterprise, Leadership and Management, said: “We are determined to foster a culture of entrepreneurial endeavour at Chester, and Santander Universities supports us in this endeavour. The University of Chester Enterprise Challenge is an example of a partnership that brings about many opportunities for our students and a way of working in partnership with business that provides mentorship, learning and backing, transforming ideas into feasible new ventures. I’m very proud of the work undertaken by these undergraduates in such challenging times.”

For those interested in pursuing an enterprise at university, Chester offers a BA Hons in Business Management (Entrepreneurship) with all the guidance needed to launch an enterprise.