Green fingered entrepreneur gets big company backing

05 Apr 2012 18:15:01.363

PA 113/12

The sight of dead house plants in dustbins throughout suburbia might be a thing of the past thanks to a novel new product, which has won the backing of several major investment companies.

‘Otto’, a novel use of technology which reminds owners to water their house plants only when necessary, was selected as the winner of The University of Nottingham’s Student Venture Challenge.

The competition, which was set up to foster entrepreneurship among the student body, saw entrants and their proposals judged on financial feasibility and overall market awareness.

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A winning idea

The winning product was brainchild of Mechanical Engineering student Chris Pearson, who was chosen after impressing the judges with his understanding of the market, his passion for his idea and the working prototype he had produced to demonstrate the technology in action.

Chris will now receive a £500 cash prize and the future support of judges representing Santander UK, Route to Funding Ltd, High Growth Academy and the University’s Careers and Employability Service.

After collecting his award Chris said: “Over or under watering is the biggest cause of death among house plants. I hope that my product will help people who like the idea of having plants but have, in the past, had issues growing them.”

Believing that the best results will come by developing growers’ interest, Chris now plans to develop a website, offering growing tips alongside information on the health and culinary benefits that plants hold.

He explained: “The prize money will go towards the development of the product, testing alongside a professional gardener and website design. The judges have offered great advice and I am currently working with them to get my product into the shops.”

Flourishing entrepreneurialism

Following the competition, organiser and EnterpriseLab Co-ordinator at the University, Dan Edge said: “Everyone involved in the competition was extremely impressed by the standard of this year’s submissions – not just the winners but from all those who took part.

“Not only did the students work hard on their entries, but some of the ideas were very innovative and have potential to be developed commercially. We hope that with the support provided by the University, some of these ideas will form the basis of successful businesses in the future.”

Second place in the competition went to Greg Burke and Marvin Plummeridge for their idea CabGrab - a taxi booking app for smartphones which locates the nearest taxi companies and enables users to place an order directly based on their preferences and others’ ratings. While third place was awarded to Alexander Hawken for his venture - The Pocket Square Company - which designs, manufactures and sells luxury pocket squares handmade in the UK.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United KingdomChina and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. 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.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Student Venture Challenge: the competition was sponsored by Santander UK plc, Browne Jacobson LLC and MarkeTest. As a result of the competition seven student teams were awarded Entrepreneurial Grants by the University’s Careers and Employability Service.

Story credits

More information is available from Dan Edge, EnterpriseLab Co-ordinator, The University of Nottingham at
Harry Waddle

Harry Waddle - Students Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 823 2353 Location: University Park

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