Trainee doctor with a head for business wins student competition

05 Sep 2015 08:46:58.377

Medicine and fashion don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but a student at The University of Nottingham has demonstrated he has a flair for both.

Tom Bracewell, a 4th year medical student, was recognised for his entrepreneurial acumen when he landed first place in this year’s Student Venture Challenge, a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style business plan competition.

A million miles from a doctor’s usual functional scrubs or white coat, Tom’s clothing brand RISE caught the eye of the judges who were impressed with the sales he has already achieved for his venture and his well thought-out market positioning.

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Tom said: “Taking part in the competition was an opportunity to look critically at my idea and helped me improve the areas of weakness. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience which I’m sure will improve my chances of success in business.”

Clearly with an eye to the future, the judges heard that Tom is looking to grow his business — he has already spoken to suppliers early on to ensure that his business is capable of being scaled up without sacrificing the quality of the product.

The Student Venture Challenge is an annual competition which is run by The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise (UNIEI) and Innovation and Nottingham Entrepreneurs, a society affiliated with the Nottingham University Business School and the Students’ Union to encourage students to pursue their business ambitions.

It aims to gives all students — no matter what they are studying or what year they are in — the chance to get their foot on the business ladder and to benefit their future career by enhancing their CVs.

Entrants to the competition submit a business plan for a real and viable business idea and finalists are then invited to compete for a top place by delivering an elevator-style pitch to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs and experts.

Making the decisions this year were Nick Barker, Co-Founder of Aware Monitoring and Nottingham University Business School alumnus; Jo Derbyshire, Operations Manager at The University of Nottingham Innovation Park and expert in commercialisation and university spin-outs; and Jon Dawson, of RSM Tenon Accountants who has experience of working with start-up companies and SMEs.

Nick Barker said: “The judges were very impressed by the very high standard of the plans and presenting skills of the finalists. It was a very difficult decision but in the end we chose Tom because achieving early sales demonstrated future potential for the idea.

“I very much enjoyed the experience of assessing the ideas and was inspired by the passion and commitment of the students involved.”

As the winner of this year’s Student Venture Challenge, Tom will receive a cash prize of £1,500 and a bursary with a cash value of a further £2,500 from Enterprise Inc, an entrepreneurial support project run by the business support organisation EMIN. In addition, he will also receive a place at The University of Nottingham Innovation Park Enterprise Hub and market research assistance to the value of £1,000 from

Also recognised for their entrepreneurial skills at the final, held at a recent Nottingham Entrepreneurs Forum event, were Geoffrey Ronoh, who claimed second prize, and Sharmila Sumsurooah who came in at third place.

Geoffrey, who is studying for an MSc in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship, received a cash prize of £1,000 for his idea to licence technology enabling micro power grids to be effectively managed and payments to be taken via mobile technology.

Sharmila, who is studying for an MSc in Electrical Technology for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems, came up with the idea to identify and manage renewable energy projects on behalf of corporate sponsors to help improve their public image and received a prize of £500.

In the run up to the final, an Ideas Generation Day and Business Plan Boot Camp were organised to give students interested in competing help with developing their business plan and give them the best chance of producing a high quality entry.

This year’s competition was sponsored by Santander, UNIP and MarkeTest. Further details about the competition are available online at


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The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

May Fest 2011 is on Saturday 7 May, 11am to 5.30pm, at The University of Nottingham.

The University is throwing open its doors to the community — with heaps of free activities for all ages. The Physics Buskers, thunder and lightning on demand and brain games. Get a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are happening on your doorstep. Visit:

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Story credits

More information is available from Ann Vickers at the UNIEI, on +44 (0)115 846 7502,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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