Oliver Brown of the School of Construction Management and Engineering wins IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition 2015

oliver-brown-Ideafest WinnerThe competition which is in its second year is organised by the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) at the Henley Business School and co-founded by Pitmans, an award winning regional law firm that has a strong record of supporting the entrepreneur.

The final saw five finalists selected to present to a judging panel that included John Hargrave Finance Director, Pitmans, John Cavill Founder & CEO, Intermezzo Ventures Ltd, Pete Doyle Founder & CEO, Social Retail Ltd, Stuart Morris Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the HCfE and Jurek Sikorski, Business Development Lead & Executive in Residence, HCfE.

Oliver's business idea branded 'Emergen-Sill' is a totally new design fire escape ladder for use in residential buildings. The concept behind the product is a foldable ladder which is encased by the external window sill when not in use. In the event of a fire the cover of the window sill can be quickly released resulting in the ladder falling to the floor and providing an escape route for the trapped resident.

The judges were particularly impressed by the model Oliver had built and the practical demonstration and Oliver's extensive knowledge of the market and the house building industry. The judges also felt Oliver was well placed to develop the escape ladder and bring the same to market in the short term.

Oliver will now receive mentoring from Pitmans and from the HCfE which will help him to bring Emergen-Sill to the market.

Oliver, who collects £1000 in prize money, said of his win: "I am extremely grateful to win Henley Business School's Ideafest. The competition has presented me and other aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to take our business ideas to market. The presentation was a great experience and the response Emergen-Sill received from the judges was very rewarding. It's amazing to think a product I designed has already received such praise and I hope this response is reflected by the market."

Second prize went to Amroy Lal and Oliver Hunt with GradSpace, a unique 'group-generation' online property rental market place for graduates and students alike and Adam Thornhill secured third place with Survivor, a real-life escape game with a twist where two to four people are locked in a van and have to solve a linear assortment of clues and puzzles to 'survive'. They received £500 and £250 in prize money respectively.

Amroy and Oliver said of their second place: "Ideafest has truly been a fantastic experience and really helped us to explore our ideas and build on our concept. We have had the opportunity to refine our research and ensure we have a strong grasp of our target market, financial projections and competitive advantages. The feedback was invaluable and we have made some great connections. "

Adam commented: "The guidance and advice given throughout the process has been invaluable for my personal development in turning an idea into a viable business plan. The experience has provided me with the tools and confidence to take the risks necessary to succeed."

Presenting the prizes, John Hargrave, Finance Director at Pitmans said, "I was very impressed by the high quality of business ideas which built further on the quality we saw last year. The commitment and dedication of the finalists who had clearly carried out a great deal of market research is to be admired and congratulated. Pitmans is again delighted to offer mentoring to the winner and runners up and help them develop their ideas into successful business ventures."

Prof Andrew Godley, Director of HCfE delivered the closing remarks and paid tribute to entrants and the quality of entries saying "The ideas are inspiring and standards of presentation becoming ever more professional".

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