Anglia Ruskin students win i10 Innovators competition and £5,000 in London final

Published: 14 August 2006 at 12:21

A team of four students from Anglia Ruskin University beat nine other entries on Monday 31 July to be declared the champion of i10 Innovators: The Business Plan Competition in a heated final that took place above the London skyline.

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A team of four students from Anglia Ruskin University beat nine other entries on Monday 31 July to be declared the champion of i10 Innovators: The Business Plan Competition in a heated final that took place above the London skyline.

Andrew Lyall, Carine Kruger, David Boardman and the absent Jan Vondras (currently working in America) made up the winning team 'Innoflate' who met while completing their MBAs at the university. Competing against the most innovative students and representatives from East of England universities, Innoflate had just three minutes to deliver their 'elevator pitch' in a capsule of the British Airways London Eye to judges Karen Bremner from the 2006 BBC series of 'The Apprentice', Paul Schofield from the competition's sponsor, professional services company Deloitte, and Louise Schofield from Business Link, the Government service provider for new and small businesses. 

Karen Bremner said:

"It was an extremely tight competition with two particular competitors very closely matched, but Innoflate showed the drive, determination and passion that we were looking for in the winner of this competition."

Their idea to produce an innovative tyre pressure monitor called 'AirCzecher', which is named for the Czech-born Jan Vondras who had the initial idea. The team impressed the judges and, at a prize-giving ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel next to the London Eye, Innoflate were awarded the title of i10 Innovators 2006 and the cash prize of £5,000, sponsored by Deloitte, to help turn their business plan into a reality.

Innoflate's David Boardman said:

"We were stunned to find out we'd won and we've now got a great opportunity to further our business careers. The competition has given us great support, information and knowledge, and the chance to network with other young entrepreneurs and feed off each others' enthusiasm."

AirCzecher allows the user to monitor and control the pressure of a tyre remotely (for example, a pilot could change the pressure in the plane's tyres from the cockpit) and does not require a battery to run. Instead it is run off an energy source that has no cost implications for the user. The idea is so groundbreaking that Innoflate currently are not in a position to reveal specific details.

Innoflate will soon take up residence at Cambridge's St John's Innovation Centre, which provides flexible office and workshop accommodation and business support for early stage knowledge based companies. The next step for the members is to ensure their product is unique and patent the idea, with the hope they will be able to produce a saleable AirCzecher within two years.

Carine Kruger of the winning team said:

"Competing in and winning the i10 Innovators competition has been a great help without which I don't think we would have made it. All the entrants had great ideas and it shows regionally and nationally what we can achieve with the right support."

Launched in March 2006, i10 received entries from over 50 students and staff members of East of England Universities for the Innovators competition. These were reduced to 25 semi-finalists, all of whom attended the i10 entrepreneurship boot camp (6 and 7 July) at the University of Hertfordshire where they received intensive training on the key aspects of starting a business. The business plans were whittled down to the top ten and the students involved were put forward to compete for the title of i10 Innovator(s) 2006.

Paul Schofield, partner at Deloitte, sponsors of the £5000 prize said:

"I've been involved as a judge or sponsor with business plan competitions for more than 10 years now and the i10 Innovators final had the strongest field I've ever seen. Deloitte offers business advice to companies large and small and I'm delighted we are able to demonstrate our commitment to helping entrepreneurs such as the members of Innoflate by sponsoring the i10 Innovators competition."

Marianna Dorking, Project Manager for the competition, said:

"i10 Innovators will enable Innoflate to develop their business by providing them with resources, skills and confidence which they may otherwise not have had. More widely, the aim of the competition is to generate future business and economic success in the eastern region by enabling would be entrepreneurs from our universities to stay in the East of England to develop their businesses. This assists in strengthening the local economy and the region's reputation as one of the most forward-thinking and dynamic in the UK."

i10 is a collaborative initiative between 11 higher education institutions in the East of England that seeks to forge stronger links between the affiliated Colleges and Universities and business. i10 acts as a central point of contact for businesses interested in finding out how they can benefit from the wealth of expertise, innovation and research services at each of these universities.

Further information about i10 Innovators: The Business Plan Competition is available at the i10 website