Thursday 11 November 2004

Blueprint Graduates Master The Art Of Winning

Musa Fine Art was last night crowned winner of the inaugural Blueprint North East Universities Business Planning Competition. Musa, set up by Northumbria University students Carol Metcalfe and Hilary Turner, walked away with first prize in an extremely exciting Grand Final at the Marriott Gosforth Park Hotel. In front of nearly 400 people, the company who supply artwork to businesses and individuals, bringing the work of talented regional artists to the fore, scooped the 10,000 award for best business plan.

The awards saw 11 companies - established by students and postgraduates from the region's five universities - do battle in this year's final of the competition designed to stimulate enterprise and harness the talents of the North East's top students. Second prize and 5,000 went to MirraTech from Durham University and the three runners up awards and 2,000 each, went to Onisoft of Teesside University, Kidstuff of Sunderland University and Catalyst Communications of Newcastle University. There was also a prize of 10,000 for the Best Science and Technology business plan, sponsored by Dickinson Dees, which went to Molecular ID Systems from Newcastle University.

However, the evening was not solely about financial reward - dozens of companies pledged thousands of pounds worth of in-kind support to help all Finalists really get their business plans off the ground. Support for the Blueprint Universities Business Planning Competition, in the form of financial aid and in-kind assistance has come from BT, Baker Tilly, County Durham Development Company, Dickinson Dees, Insight Capital, NatWest, NStar, One NorthEast, RMT Accountants, RTC North, The Journal, Ward Hadaway, The Academy for Chief Executives, the Big Ideas Facility, The Bridge Club, Service Network, Women Into The Network (WIN), CODEWORKS, CPI, CELS and CENAMPS.

This year's competition, organised and administered by NECSE, has been such as success that a date for next year's final has already been set - the 27th October 2005. And with companies pledging their support for next year as well, there is a great opportunity for many more of the North East's key businesses to invest in and ensure, a bright future for the entire region.

To read more about the Blueprint competition, visit

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This fourth edition of the bdaily xtra looks into some of the issues connected with the regional assembly and asks whether it is capable of bridging the divide between the rich and poor regions of England... more >