University Entrepreneurs Challenge returns to Educate North Awards in April

David Prior's picture

The next generation of entrepreneurs from Northern universities will do battle once again when the third University Entrepreneurs Challenge (UEC) is staged as part of the Educate North Awards in April.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), technology solutions specialists Pilot Group and global financial services company Duff and Phelps are confirmed as key sponsors and partners for the unique inter-university competition to find the best of the North’s new entrepreneurs.

The Educate North Awards will take place on April 26th, supported by Prolific North and Communicorp UK, owners of Heart Radio Yorkshire and Smooth Radio in the North East and North West.

Cash prizes for investment will be at stake as four companies created by academics, universities, graduates or students will battle it out in front of four independent expert judges, with the result announced in front of a live audience on the night.

They will learn their fate as up to 21 Higher, Further and now schools awards are also announced at the Hilton Hotel Manchester. 

Last year The University of York’s Skillforge walked away with the top UEC prize and in 2016 Big Heritage carried off the first ever UEC prize for the University of Chester.

Last year's UEC winners Skillsforge

Duff and Phelps's Manchester-based managing director, David Fleming, will join the panel of judges for the first time.

He said: "This is a unique inter-university competition and its important we support these early-stage companies because they could become the powerhouse businesses of the future."

Businessman Phil Hodari, one of the first investors in The University of Manchester’s Graphene programme, returns as a lead judge and sponsor through his parent company Pilot Group.

"This is as exciting as Granada TV’s classic ‘Flying Start’ and the BBC’s ‘Dragons Den’ but the research is deep and the testing of their business cases is thorough," he said.

UCLAN has provided resources, mentoring and part of the prize funding since the inception of the competition in 2016, and Vice Chancellor, Professor Mike Thomas, believes it truly reflects the wider goals of the university.

"The UEC gives the companies a benchmark to test their strategy, plans and ideas against as well as offering promotion and of course, potential investment for their enterprises," he said.