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When the going gets tough Enfield’s Innovators get going

Published Friday, 03 December 2010

Times may be hard, but Enfield’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well if the standard of entries to this year’s Enfield Innovators competition is anything to go by. 39 quality applications were received from competitors in the hope of getting the chance to pitch to Enfield Council’s team of ‘dragons.’

Seven were invited to pitch and then three worthy winners were rewarded with the top prize of £20k of business support and advice to take their ideas and products forward.

Enfield Council ran this year's Dragon's Den style competition in conjunction with innovation networks Knowledge East and West Focus and Ravensbourne College. Talking about the innovation networks, Linsey Cole from the University of East London said, "Knowledge East provides support for small and medium enterprises (SME's) to innovate their business in a community context. Our real focus is built on collaboration and partnership. Lots of business ideas start from just a single conversation - the spark that comes from somewhere. It's great to see Enfield Council harnessing this energy and encouraging innovation throughout the borough."

Middlesex University student Kyri Apostolou scooped one of the resident prizes for his idea to engage disenchanted young people in designing and customising their own bikes through his Mutant Bike scheme. Kyri, who is in his final year of his degree course in product design, has been targeting schools and youth centres and visiting skate parks to talk to young people about his idea.

Kyri said, "The kids love it and can't wait to see the idea take off. Winning this competition is amazing - the prize fund will help me with the marketing and improve the website. Eventually I'd like to get a controlled area where we can manage events and have a workshop to fix the bikes from."

Another resident winner was Louise Broni-Mensah who won for her event ticketing website Shoobs.com. Former investment banker Louise was a pupil at Enfield County School and came up with her idea after spending too many rain-drenched afternoons waiting about in the cold to give people their event tickets. "I've always had an entrepreneurial flair," she said, "but I felt that in the corporate world there was too much red tape, now running my own business gives me the freedom to make my own decisions. Winning this award is a real privilege and knowing that other people have faith in my business idea will spur me on to take it to the next level."

The business category winner was Ben Grant of Secureseal Systems Ltd which has pioneered a new security seal for sea containers, the forerunner of which is already being used on Tesco trucks around the country.

Collecting his award, Ben's son Cameron said, "This is a great step forward for us at an exciting time in our company, having been in business for 34 years, Secureseal has survived through innovation. Our experience with this competition was very positive. The experience of pitching - bringing a model and sticking it in front of people from outside gives you a bit more reassurance that you're on the right track. Whilst we have a lot of experience of taking a product to market, this prize fund will help us to develop a prototype. Ideally, we'd like to stretch it to a pilot of about 10 units in application."

Cllr Del Goddard, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Improving Localities said, "I'm delighted that this year's competition has attracted yet more high calibre entries. Whilst we are still in a recession, the entrepreneurial tradition on which Enfield and the Lee Valley was built continues today. Messrs Johnson and Matthey were innovators as long ago as 1817 and nearly two hundred years later, the company they founded continues to stay ahead of the game. We still have many businesses operating in Enfield for whom R& D is their way of life. I hope we can rebuild this sense of history as we move forward."

Cllr Goddard continued, "The Council is committed to providing the business environment for these smaller businesses to flourish. A key element of our regeneration plans includes ensuring our business estates have the facilities for smaller units to give our entrepreneurs the space to grow and create new jobs for our community. Even in these very difficult times, the Council is working with our partners to secure the competition for next year, because the Government cuts have removed the Working Neighbourhood Funding used to fund this event."

The Enfield Innovators competition is just one of many Council initiatives to promote enterprise and innovation and generate business growth and jobs in the borough. We are also working with our partners in Enterprise Enfield, North London Business, the North London Chamber of Commerce, the Enfield Education Business Partnership and the Enfield Business and Retailers Association to support small businesses and stimulate Enfield's enterprise culture.

If you'd like advice on starting up a business contact Enterprise Enfield on 020 8443 5457 or www.EnterpriseEnfield.org

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