Prize-winning students have business ambitions

Fabrics influenced by geology, accessories for nightclubbers and a new range of underwear are among products being developed by enterprising students at the University of Leeds.

Four students have won a university-wide contest to develop their businesses during a year-long period away from their normal studies where they can focus on bringing their products to market.

Their ideas are very diverse:

  • Geology student Josephine Canning from Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside designs fabrics, gifts, wall coverings and accessories influenced by geological structures;
  • Management student Harriett Howe from Basildon in Essex has developed a range of modern and fashionable underwear targeted at young women who need additional support;
  • Music student Louis Ewart from Saxmundham in Suffolk creates nightclub accessories such as glow sticks and glitter adornments;
  • Film, Photography and Media student Owen Seabrook from Wigan provides social media and visual content for small to medium-sized enterprises.

The students’ business plans were studied by a judging panel which included University staff and representatives of the local business community. The judges said the four winning students “demonstrated a real entrepreneurial spirit, spotted market opportunities, took advantage of their niche areas – and presented credible, viable business proposals.”

Each of the aspiring student entrepreneurs will take a year out between their second and third year of their degree studies to set up and run their own business, benefitting from office space, financial support, training, mentoring and professional business advice. To support them during the year, each will receive a £5,000 scholarship funded by a local business, who will also provide financial support and business mentoring for the year.

Keycare, a Shipley based key recovery and assistance specialist, is celebrating its 40th anniversary by providing the scholarship for Harriett’s business. Non-Executive Director Rachel Taylor, daughter of Keycare founder Geoffrey Parker, will help mentor Harriett during the year. “Starting a business whilst at University is a bold undertaking,” said Rachel. “But Harriett is an inspirational young woman, ready to rise to the challenge. We are delighted to be supporting her and acting as a sounding board to help her turn her vision into reality.”

Rachel, who also sat on the judging panel, added: “The Leeds University Year in Enterprise Scholarship offers a fantastic opportunity for young people to get a foothold in business, and we’re extremely proud to be supporting the initiative. We will keep everyone up to date with Harriett’s progress over the next 12 months and beyond.

“My father would be so pleased to see us giving something back to the local business community.”

Further information

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Keycare Ltd is the UK’s leading expert in the key recovery and assistance market, protecting people from the disruption and expense of losing keys or having them stolen. Commissioned by leading insurers and household name distributors, Keycare specialises in recovering lost keys.  Managing over 1.8 million policies, Keycare provides a bespoke, white labelled key recovery solution together with a 24-hour UK based helpline full incident management and dedicated account management.

Keycare creates genuine business benefits for its partners, generating valuable extra income and contributing to customer loyalty and retention. Keycare is an independent family owned business and was founded in 1977. It is based in Shipley, West Yorkshire.  Underwritten by Ageas Insurance, Keycare Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA registration no. 309514.

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 33,000 students from 147 different countries, and is a member of the Russell Group research-intensive universities. We are a top 10 university for research and impact power in the UK according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and we are The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2017 For more on how the University supports student enterprise visit:





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