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Santander funding bonanza in OU Student Entrepreneurship Competition

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Business and Law students shone in The Open University’s Student Entrepreneurship Competition 2020 which promotes and rewards promising early stage businesses and ideas.

A diverse cross-section of OU students took part in this annual competition, now in its sixth year, which runs on an OpenLearn Create site every winter. It engages students in extracurricular activity outside their module-based learning with the lure of award funding from the OU’s partnership with Santander Universities.

With £25,000 funding available from Santander Universities and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), there were 20 recipients of a £1,250 grant for a mix of social and commercial ideas. It is hoped the winners will form a supportive network of peers at varying stages of the entrepreneurial journey as some businesses are currently trading and seeking to grow, some need start-up capital and others need to do some proof of concept work.

The eight successful Business School students were Andrew Wood, Floris Schirmer and Yana Parikos (Business Management), Andrew Martin (Leadership and Management), Amdalat Jinadu and Narelle Gibbs (MSc in Human Resource Management), and Gregory Burrows-Delbarry and Jacob Robinson (MBA). Law student Bethany Waters was another recipient, together with two Open Degree students – Hannah Ellis and James Markey who was chosen as the institutional submission to the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme.

Read about all the students’ ideas here with James Markey highlighted here and two more examples below.

Andrew Wood (Business Management) / The Vintage Warehouse Company

This is the UK’s first personalised fashion subscription box specialising in branded vintage clothing. Andrew’s motivation for starting the company was to provide better value for vintage clothes shoppers while fuelling the circular fashion economy. Hand in hand with the subscription model, a vintage wholesale operation will be launched in the coming months – the grant will help support in researching the company’s market, refining its proposition and building its supply chain before launching.

Narelle Gibbs (MSc in Human Resource Management / The I CAN Journal

Two of Narelle’s children have disabilities and special educational needs which can make communicating with them very difficult. They were her motivation for creating the I CAN Journal which helps to develop a growth mindset to allow children to be the best that they can be. It is a safe space to write down thoughts and feelings and to reflect on the day.

Pandemic dictates changes for 2020

In previous years, the pitch day and awards ceremony have been exciting opportunities for students to visit the OU campus and meet face-to-face with other students and the academics who teach on their qualifications.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic meant a campus event could not be held this year – organisers look forward to welcoming more student entrepreneurs in next year’s competition.