Friday 22 October 2004

The North East Universities' Business Planning Competition

University Business Planning Competition is a Winner Say North East Business Leaders

The Blueprint university business planning competition involving all five of the North East's universities is attracting significant long-term interest and sponsorship from some of the region's leading businesses and public sector organisations.

Already the total sponsorship package is worth more than 100,000 with major support coming from top legal firms Dickinson Dees and Ward Hadaway, investment specialists Insight Capital and RMT Accountants.

Support from One North East and NStar and other local enterprise agencies has also boosted Blueprint's profile.

The competition's coordinator, Professor Max Robinson, Enterprise Education Manager at the North East Centre for Scientific Enterprise (NECSE), says: "We knew that Blueprint had the right formula for success, but the response from local business and enterprise organisations has been remarkable. We now have the network and resources to ensure that the competition will be a major success this year and for years to come.

"It seems that Blueprint has not only galvanised the North East's universities into collaborative action, it has fired the imaginations of business leaders and enterprise organisations and brought them together as a concerted, supportive group."

Sean Nicolson, a partner in Dickinson Dees' Technology Group, believes Blueprint is a crucial initiative for the North East and can play a significant part in the region's regeneration. He says: "From the outset, Dickinson Dees was keen to get involved and support Blueprint because we saw it as a natural progression from our work with universities and academics over the last few years. Working with the region's universities as well as academics and students - we have seen that business plan competitions are ideally suited to developing entrepreneurial ideas and skills. The process of creating, focusing and refining a business plan greatly enhances the prospects of a new business idea being 'investor-ready' and, therefore, more likely to succeed.

"We are very pleased to support Blueprint with a cash prize of 10,000 for the Science and Technology Award. We hope that this prize coupled with the support we have given the region's universities throughout the competition will promote the development of a sustainable technology industry in the region. By helping to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship, the North East's economy will grow stronger through the creation of new and successful locally-based businesses - and that is good for us all."

John Richards, managing partner of Jesmond-based RMT Accountants and Advisors, which has committed sponsorship of 5,000 in consultancy, also sees huge benefits to the region. He says: "We have long recognised that the region's universities are a hotbed of innovative thinking and new business ideas and are, therefore, fundamental to the North East's future growth. Blueprint is helping to focus the potential of students and recent graduates and creating a network of support to ensure that new business ideas have every chance of success.

"At RMT Accountants, we are offering mentoring and consultancy in a range of crucial business skills and services, such as tax, IT and financial planning. In our experience, if these basic business practices are implemented in an appropriate manner from the start, young companies reap significant benefits by being able to manage cash-flow, create a scalable infrastructure and manage sales cycles."

Niall Head-Rapson, Head of Intellectual Property at leading North East law firm Ward Hadaway, is the region's foremost legal Biotechnology expert and is delighted to support The North East Universities Business Planning Competition: Blueprint.

Niall commented: "The region is developing a reputation for being at the forefront of developments in the technology sector. Working with students across the five Universities to promote awareness and understanding and encourage participation and new ideas is key to driving this sector forward in the future. We are delighted to be involved with helping the region to establish a broader base in this area to encourage entrepreneurship which will ultimately lead to increased growth and prosperity in the North East."

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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 >