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21 February 2007
Christina Zhang £1k winner with
Ehsan Abdi Jalebi (left) receiving his
The TouchSight Vision Mitt
Some of the TouchSight team
receiving their prize
This year's Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE) £1k Business Ideas Competition awards ceremony was recently held in Cambridge's Guildhall. The awards attracted over 200 students, staff and sponsors to network with one another, browse the 86 ideas entered, and hear the 10 winners announced. Three of the £1k winners, Bacup, TouchSight and PRoB, were from the Department of Engineering.
The winning ideas were diverse, from automatic data backup to pest control to industrial sensing. A full list of winners may be found at www.cue.org.uk. Each winning team received £1,000 cash to spend how they please. They also received valuable feedback from CUE's expert team of judges and an invitation to enter their idea into the first stage of CUE's business creation competition, in which prizes totaling £30,000 will be awarded to the winners.
Christina Zhang's Bacup is a multi-functional handset charger, which has the functions of data backup, battery charging (both with and without external power supply) and MMC/CF card reading. It is a product that realises the idea of 'unconscious data backup' and 'handset station'. Christina a second year undergraduate engineer said, "Joining CUE and participating in the competition was one of the most rewarding things to have happened to me this term. It's not the money, but the great opportunity of exposure and the chance to pitch to real venture capitalists that most appeals to me!"
Ehsan Abdi Jalebi has developed a novel current sensing technology which implements the Rogowski (air-cored) current sensing technique through an innovative Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design. The product name, PRoB, stands for Printed Rogowski Board. The novel current probe has lower manufacturing costs (by as much as 30%) and weight (by as much as 40%) through significant reduction of copper usage, and higher accuracy as compared to the existing technologies. Since the technology is innovative and critical, there is great market potential. "I realised that there are significant commercial opportunities for the technology developed as part of my PhD," said Ehsan from the Centre for Advanced Photonics, "A team has been assembled and we are now working on a preproduction prototype."
TouchSight are a new startup company started by Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) students Karan Keswani, Samaan Rahman, Pete Davies, Jessie Baker. Based in Cambridge, the team have developed a new innovative mobility aid, together with the help of focus groups for the visually impaired. The TouchSight Vision Mitt enables the user to 'sense' their surroundings using ultransonic sensors and vibration feedback actuators, whilst keeping the palm of the hand free for other tasks. "Our team set out with the aim of providing the visually impaired with confidence in the real world. Along the way we came to understand the difficulties faced by visually impaired people during their daily lives," said Samaan Rahman.
"This is a truly record year for Cambridge University Entrepreneurs," said Rahul Vohra, President of Cambridge University Entrepreneurs. "There is unprecedented excitement about the competitions: we received 33% more entries than in any previous year and as a result the competition was extremely tough. We simply can't wait to see the ideas which enter the CUE business creation competition. We hope the students will follow in the footsteps of James Hay. In 2001, James won the CUE Business Creation Competition with Splashpower www.splashpower.co.uk whilst he was an MET student. Splashpower has since gone on to become the first venture backed company to come through CUE and has raised more than $15 million of further funding."
Cambridge University Entrepreneurs organise the most successful student run business planning and creation competitions in Europe . Since 1999, CUE has had over 450 entries and has awarded over £280,000 in grants to 31 business ideas. These companies have raised more than £15m further funding and are currently valued at more than £30m.
For more information on the £1k Business Plan Competition or Cambridge University Entrepreneurs please visit www.cue.org.uk
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