Budding entrepreneurs scoop university office space

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Our accountancy practice sat on a dragon’s den style judging panel with the University of Chester and helped six student businesses secure vital office space and funding.

Senior Accountant John Farrell, of Ellis and Co, helped hand -pick the most successful business ideas, some of which won space in an Acceleration office unit at the University’s Riverside Innovation Centre.

Students took part in nine pitches in total, and the six successful businesses either won an office unit or received funding courtesy of Santander.

The University’s ‘Venture 3’ programme gave students the opportunity to ‘Create’ a business idea and ‘Collaborate’ with professionals like John to ‘Accelerate’ it into reality.

John said: “It’s always an honour being asked to take part in the Venture 3 programme and as usual there was a very high calibre of business ideas to choose from.

“It was an exciting process providing students with initial accountancy advice and then watching their ideas flourish. The office space and funding will provide the entrepreneurs with a much needed boost to get their business ideas off the ground.”

The following business ideas proved a hit with the judges:


  • Josh Moffat, a Product Design and Management graduate, was awarded £2,000 and office space for his business Airwave Surfing Technologies Surfboards which designs and manufactures surfboards.
  • Emma Woollard, a French and Spanish student, was awarded £1,000 and office space for English with Emma, an online platform to teach English and other languages to an international audience.
  • Matthew Clarke, a Graphic Design graduate, was awarded £500 for the development of his ‘Renegade Pilot’ comic series – he is an independent comic book publisher, writer and illustrator.
  • Hayley Riley and Louise Evans, both Drama and Theatre Studies graduates, were awarded £1,500 and office space for Haylo Theatre.
  • Jessie Harris, Nick Wright, Lesley-Staum Lewis and Gemma Bamford, all Drama and Theatre Studies graduates, were offered acceleration space for Quintus Theatre Company.
  • Owen Chamberlain, who is currently studying for an Educational Doctorate, was offered acceleration space for Ensemble10 which focuses on innovative, practice-based research in business.


Charlotte Copeland of SafeHavenTrauma Centre was also awarded two book prizes for the ‘Best 60 Second Video Pitch’ as voted for by her peers, and for the progress she had made in setting up her business. 

Haylo Theatre was awarded £50 courtesy of Big Heritage for ‘Best Social Impact.’

Kirsty Badrock, Innovation Enterprise Co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted at the Riverside Innovation Centre to be able to provide ongoing, bespoke support to all the entrepreneurs who took part and not just the ones who won office space and funding.

“The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive. Over the networking dinner to close the event they spoke about how grateful they are for all the help and guidance they have received.

“We understand that this event could not have happened without our partners whose support we are extremely appreciative of and grateful for.”