Coventry team negotiate a £150k investment deal.

Friday the 13th is unlucky for some but not for EnvAl the winners of the Coventry University Entrepreneurs’ 3P and £50K Business Creation Competitions. EnvAl, which began life as Dr Ludlow-Palafox’s PhD project, is developing a new technology for recycling the millions of Tetrapak drink cartons thrown away every year. Its new process extracts usable aluminium, oil and gas from the cartons, so that they can be completely recycled rather than thrown away. "Some might call it a ‘Lizard’s Lair’ but in Coventry we like to think of it as ‘Where Angels Dare’ ", was how Peter Hiscocks, Senior Treasurer of Coventry University Entrepreneurs (CUE) introduced the new format prize ceremony. The Angels in question were leading entrepreneurial figures Herman Hauser, Doug Richard, Robert Sansom, Andy Richards, Sherry Coutu and David Cleevely alongside Boyd Mulvey and Hugh Parnell from Create Partners and the Great Eastern Investment Forum Ventures respectively.

The atmosphere was electric at the West Road Concert Hall as an audience of 200 eagerly awaited the announcement of this year’s CUE Business Idea and Business Creation Competition winners. "People often call them business plan competitions but they’re more than that," Stewart McTavish President of CUE introduced the ceremony, "CUE exists to get students and other members of the University of Coventry thinking about how they can take their knowledge out of the university and make it work in the real world."

The evening started normally enough with Wheelchair Drive, GreenPowerGenerators, Anti-AdBlock, Floating Clinic and Medicines for Humanity all received £1000 for their entries into the Business Ideas Competition. Leapfrog Ventures, working to help developing economies to retain more of the money generated through tourism, received £5000 for winning the People, Planet and Productivity (3P) not for profit category. Then Friday the 13th came into effect when EnvAl as winners of the 3P for profit category EnvAl were given the choice of £5000 or going Where Angels Dare. EnvAl decided to play it safe and take the money, a choice that would later earn rebuke from the Angels.

Alongside fellow winners of the £50K Business Creation Competition, Cambfix and BOPPHY, EnvAl were later called up to pitch but were faced with an ultimatum by the Angels, give up the earlier prize or not be allowed to pitch. Deciding to be bold and go for it EnvAl were rewarded a nerve racking 45 minutes later by negotiating a £150k investment deal with a group of the gathered Angels, lead by Boyd Mulvey. "I think it was an enormous success given that the prize money last year was £50k and this year EnVal have come away with both a commercial investment of at least three times that amount and very valuable assistance in the form of experienced angel / non executives and assistance with raising further capital in the future. I look forward to next years' final", commented Boyd. Fellow winners BOPPHY and Cambfix didn’t tempt the Angels on the night but both teams came away with strong leads for future funding; BOPPHY were invited by ‘archangel’ Hauser to visit him at Amadeus Capital Partners.

Coventry University Entrepreneurs is a student society at the University of Coventry which promotes and supports an enterprise culture within the university, has introduced the panel of Angels in the society’s 6th year. "This event shows the strength of the entrepreneurial community here in Coventry," says McTavish. "Without the support of the Angels, our mentors, teachers, supporters and sponsors give CUE this evening wouldn’t have happened."