Winners of the £1k Challenge 2008-2009

Last Friday, Coventry University Entrepreneurs announced the winners of the £1k phase of its annual Entrepreneurs' Challenge. Entrants submitted a 1500 word Executive Summary for their business, which was reviewed by three panels of expert judges with a background in entrepreneurship and early-stage investment.

A total of 7 teams took home a prize of £1000 and presented their business in front of the audience. The winning teams are:

Automatic Gearshift, CamMicrobicide, Gemstone, Magenta, Operation Solar, iSolve and Vortex-MRAM.

We would like to thank the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning for their kind assistance in organising the judging meetings, and acknowledge the generous support of our sponsors that makes this competition possible. They are ARM, Redgate Software, Philips, Taylor Vinters and Coventry Science Park.

A big well done to all of who entered, we look forward to seeing your ideas develop in the £5k phase of the competition!

Please click read more to learn about the prize giving ceremony and the winning teams.

The £1k Awards Ceremony

£7,000 of prize money was awarded to 7 Coventry start-ups. This included two winners of the new Redgate Software Prize, and we are proud to announce that we were able to award our first Consumer Products Prize, sponsored by Philips.

Doug Richard, the entrepreneur and investor perhaps most famous for his role as a dragon in the BBC's widely viewed Dragon's Den, was present at the event, contributing candid and witty discussion of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and whether entrepreneurship can be taught.

All prize winners were invited to the stage to give a 60 second pitch of their business and discussed their plans with the audience over a glass of wine at a bustling poster exhibition following the main session.

The winners

Automatic Gearshift
Consumer Product Prize

Lead Entrant: Edwin Koh

Public Summary: Bicycles come with multi-speed gears to suit different cycling conditions. However, many people find gear shifting a hassle. Although there are currently a few automatic shift systems, they suffer limited success as they are expensive and cannot be retrofitted to existing bicycles. Therefore, we have developed a modular automatic gear shift system which can be cheaply produced. This product provides great financial opportunities in terms of product sales and patent licensing. A working capital of £50,000 is required for patent filing. Based on initial studies, this product has the potential to generate £5.4 million in 3 years.

Technology Prize

Lead Entrant: Arjun Goyal

Public Summary:
CamMicrobicide's mission is the discovery and development of anti-infective medicines for the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Our lead candidate, a topical penile microbicide, targets STIs caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Both disease markets represent areas of large and growing unmet medical need and multi-billion dollar market potential. CamMicrobicide's innovative core technology enhances the natural defense mechanisms of mammalian hosts, providing an effective and significantly improved barrier to virus entry and replication. CamMicrobicide will create clinical and commercial value through its (1) innovative proprietary technology platform, (2) focus on disease markets with significant and growing unmet medical need and (3) pursuit of value-enhancing commercial partnerships.

Red Gate Software Prize

Lead Entrant: Keng Siew Aloysius Han

Public Summary: Gemstone testing is a tedious process of collecting a gemstone's physical characteristics and subsequently consult tables to reduce the possibilities and advanced literature for further diagnostic tests. A subscription-based online gemmological information corpus and gemstone identification engine that aim to provide quality up-to-date key information at the fingertips of a busy professional, cutting the time spent locating relevant literature significantly. The information corpus capitalizes on community knowledge for growth, quality and maintenance by allowing user input and the engine permits online query of the physical characteristics of an unidentified gemstone for a match.

Technology Prize

Lead Entrant: Cong Cong Bo

Public Summary: Magenta has developed a technology enabling MRI manufacturers to replace the conventional 2m-long superconducting coil with a high-temperature 2cm-diameter magnetic disc that generates at least the same field strength. This not only allows MRIs to be made for a 60% overall cost reduction, but also paves the way into emerging markets for niche MRI applications.

Operation Solar
Social Enterprise Prize

Lead Entrant: Allen Chen

Public Summary: There is a silent killer in the kitchens of developing countries. Use of firewood produces toxic fumes that are trapped in small confined spaces, causing almost two million deaths per year globally.  There are currently no organisations that make a large-scale contribution toward alleviating this problem.  Operation Solar will forge links with corporate partners to increase awareness of the danger of smoke and distribute and promote use of clean, inexpensive solar cookers that that use reflective panels to cook with sunlight. 

Red Gate Software Prize

Lead Entrant: Oliver Lamming

Public Summary: iSolve is a start-up company developing applications for solving paper-based puzzles using computer vision on a mobile phone. Our first application, The Photographic Sudoku Solver, aims to help all those who get stuck half-way through a Sudoku puzzle in a newspaper or book. Simply by taking a photograph with their iPhone, they will have the solution within seconds. The rapidly-growing market of iPhone applications is just beginning to be tapped and our novel use of computer vision will set the standard for future developers, whilst providing a fun and unique service.

Technology Prize

Lead Entrant: Chris Baker

Public Summary: Our novel, break-through technology will revolutionize MRAM type memory devices in a nanotechnology memory market estimated to be worth $7 Billion in 2010. The IP-protected core technology is based on manipulation of magnetic bubble domain walls in materials with high magnetic anisotropy. Information storage is ultra-fast, on the order of 5 nanoseconds, and can be done without the need for a power-intensive stabilising field. Implementing this technology will result in smaller, faster, non-volatile, extremely stable and more energy efficient memory, making it ideal for many markets including the mobile phone industry.