University of Hertfordshire students have Flare for business

IT is the moment of reckoning for some aspiring entrepreneurs from the University of Hertfordshire next week.

For Friday, April 30, is the grand final of Flare 2010 – the Hatfield-based uni’s annual business ideas challenge, which encourages students, alumni and staff to create unique commercial ideas and turn them into successful ventures.

A total of 144 individuals and groups entered this year’s competition, a record, and now only 10 remain.

The finalists will now head to London and pitch their ideas to a Dragons’ Den style panel at 30 St Mary Axe – better known as The Gherkin.

The winner will receive a prize fund of �25,000, which includes cash, office space and consultancy, providing the winners with funding and support to kick-start their businesses.

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But it won’t be easy.

To get their hands on the cash they will first have to impress a judging panel consisting of three of the country’s top business minds: Julie Meyer, one of the “Dragons” in the online version of the hit BBC entrepreneurial show; Martin Carr, senior financial services manager at Exemplas; and Adam Titmus, senior manager at Deloitte, one of the country’s leading professional services firms.

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Nigel Culkin, director of the Centre for Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “We’re delighted that the number of entries has risen this year.

“This demonstrates how good ideas often flourish in periods of economic instability.

“The finalists have shown great entrepreneurial spirit to make it through to this stage – it’s now down to who can hold their nerve for the pitch on April 30.”

The finalists are: Alexander Bracq; Gary Schoeman; Adedeji Osobukola and Gemini Pankhania; Matthias Hillner and Ruddy Vincent; Alexander Miller; Nader Siabi, Professor Marc Brown, Professor Soraya Dhillon and Rona Robinson, Emmanuel Shodeinde and Christopher Richards; Hajra Hyseni and Labinot Zeqiri; Karl Beetson; Lin Sun, Paul Swann and Xiaoqiang Zhang.

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