Oran Barr, News Editor.
Nine QUB students received a combined total of £2,800 in prize money as the successful candidates in this years QUBSU ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition.
The winners were also presented with 11 individual business awards commending various areas of entrepreneurial thought, such as ‘Best Use of Technology’ and ‘Best Idea for a Social Enterprise’ among others.
Enterprise SU ran the scheme in order to provide an open platform for Queen’s students to express “exciting and novel business ideas” and promote creativity and innovation among students during their time at university.
Over 80 students entered this year’s competition in its initial phase. This was then narrowed to 24 by a panel of judges comprised of representatives from the sponsors of the competition: PWC, Ormeau Business Park, Queen’s Graduate School, and Danske Bank.
After the nine winners had been announced, each was then tasked with presenting a two-minute pitch of their ideas with hopes of winning the grand prizes of ‘Best Overall Business Idea’ and ‘Most Innovative Business Idea.’
The award for ‘Most Innovative Business Idea’ and a cash prize of £500 was received by Choon Yvin Tham, the creator of ‘EcoBrix’; a sustainable and environmentally-friendly brick that promotes greener industry. In response to his award and experience at ‘What’s the Big Idea?’, Choon said: “It’s amazing to be given the opportunity to share an idea on the stage of ‘What’s the big idea?’ that promotes creativity and innovativeness. It’s the best launching pad for EcoBrix.”
The winners of the ‘Best Overall Business Idea’ and the £500 that accompanied it were the team behind ‘AirWear’; an inflatable helmet intended to provide a more portable and practical alternative for cyclists.
Ben Lindsay, a member of the winning team, said: “Getting involved with ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ gave us an opportunity to look at our idea from a business perspective, …[and] we have realised the true money-making potential of our concept. It has also opened us up to further competitions.”
CEO of Ormeau Business Park, Patricia O’Neill, stated: “The Ormeau Business Park are proud to act as sponsors for the ninth consecutive year by encouraging undergraduates and graduates to develop and nurture their potential ideas… The ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ competition continues to act as a springboard at QUB for budding entrepreneurs to drive innovation, build their capabilities and develop new technologies as they ignite upon their business journey. Our organisation looks forward to working with QUB in 2018 to further develop emerging globally focused business ideas to reach their full potential.”
Ian Brankin, Senior Corporate Strategy Manager at Danske Bank communicated: “Danske Bank were delighted to sponsor the ‘What’s The Big Idea?’ Competition. We were very impressed with both the volume and quality of ideas submitted, highlighting the extent of innovation, creativity and commercial acumen demonstrated by QUB students.”
Finally, Technology Consultant at PWC, Ailis Mone, said, “the ideas put forward by the students were both innovative and of extremely high quality. Every person that pitched was good at telling their own story and explained the importance of their product and how they were solving a real-world problem.”
After a series of successful annual competitions, Enterprise SU hopes the competition can be even larger next year, and encourages any Queen’s student with a good idea to come forth and express themselves.
Applications for next year open September 2018.