Matilsa Platforms UK has been crowned the winner of the Spark@Notts business idea competition.
Headed up by Oxford Innovation, Spark@Notts is the biggest business competition of its kind the region has seen, with a grand prize worth over £35,000.
“I’m so delighted to have won, and I really appreciate what Oxford Innovation and Nottinghamshire County Council have done to help me get to this position,” says Alex Weston of Matilsa Platforms UK, winner of Spark@Notts 2012.
Launched earlier this year, this brand new competition has been designed to kickstart plans for new business ventures whilst providing first and second time entrepreneurs with the professional resources, support and guidance vital to the early stages of a business launch.
“We are wanting to encourage new businesses within the region ,” says Rachel Panther, Regional Director for the East Midlands at Oxford Innovation. “Starting up a business in today’s economic climate can be a difficult and daunting prospect, so the Spark@Notts initiative has been designed as an interactive process providing support for the finalists to build a credible business model that will deliver success and sustained profits.”
Six entrepreneurs reached the final: Matilsa Platforms UK, Wishlamp, To You, Sustainable Development Bureau, Of the Dayy and Career Maze.
Each finalist presented their idea at the closing event at Clumber Park Hotel & Spa on Thursday, to a packed room of regional business leaders and a Dragon’s Den style judging panel, which asked some challenging questions exploring the ideas.
The judging panel consisted of Chris Allington, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation; Keith Girling, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Business Engagement Champion; Tom Mawhood, Private Equity Investment Manager and Consultant; Pat Nice, co-owner of Newark-based Forlinux Ltd and Rick Norsworthy, Innovation Specialist and Business Consultant.
All the judges are or have managed their own businesses, understand the challenge of creating commercial success and are passionate about supporting others to be successful.
“We have been very fortunate to have had a strong judging panel,” says Rachel, “and we’d like to thank the judges for their time and professional advice.”
“I have been involved with a number of business idea competitions, and the standard from Spark@Notts has been phenomenally high,” says Chris Allington, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation and one of the judges. “It has demonstrated the breadth and quality of talent in the region, and I cannot praise our team here at Oxford Innovation and Nottinghamshire County Council enough.”
Alex wins office space at one of the Nottinghamshire Innovation Centres for a year, support for all business accountancy and employment law for a year, brand and corporate identity package, internet marketing and SEO planning support, development of a PR strategy and website hosting for a year, Google places listing, IP protection support, a day’s conference room hire at one of the Nottinghamshire Innovation Centres, a business mentor and some print and telecommunications prizes..
“I’m really surprised to have won as the standard of the other finalists was so high, but obviously I am delighted I have,” says Alex. “All the prizes will help me equally so I can strive to build a successful business. I really appreciate the support and advice from the judges over the last few weeks, and I was incredibly nervous giving my presentation.”
The two runners up are Charlie Bailey from Of The Dayy and Hugh Frost from To You. Charlie wins a virtual office in the Mansfield i-Centre and a customized support package to get his web based business established. Tom Mawhood and Pat Nice have also offered to personally mentor Charlie in his early journey into business.
Hugh Frost wins six months free office for his new team at the Newark Beacon .
“We’ve been really fortunate to have had some amazing sponsors come forward to donate prizes,” says Rachel. “They all run their own successful business and will be able to share valuable skills and information with the winner, to help their business develop. With the three new businesses being based in an Innovation Centre, they will automatically have access to the business community which can help to build valuable business relationships.”
All the finalists will receive virtual office space and a package of customized support based on the stage and needs of their business idea.
“This has been a thoroughly worthwhile event, and the standard of the finalists and presentations has been incredibly high, and I’m really looking forward to the competition next year now” says Keith Girling, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Business Engagement Champion. “Spark@Notts has been a benefit to help kickstart businesses in the region, which otherwise might not have evolved.”