By Daniel Hunter

A street-food entrepreneur, the inventor of a family trivia game, an artisan guitar maker and the director of a ‘pub theatre’ are among the graduate business owners shortlisted for the inaugural Making Business Happen Awards.

Last September, organisers set out on a UK-wide search for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs and challenged them to show how they are ‘making business happen’. Five months later and eight businesses, together with 15 teams of school and university students, have taken their places amongst the shortlisted entrants.

Organised by The University of South Wales, the Making Business Happen Awards were set up to recognise graduates of UK universities who have gone on to start their own successful and growing businesses using the skills and knowledge gained whilst studying. A separate Aspiring Entrepreneurs category recognises students from schools and colleges across the UK who have demonstrated a commitment to researching and developing an effective or innovative business idea.

The final category, the USW Entrepreneurs Challenge, is open to current/recent students from the University of South Wales and asks participants to produce a fully developed business plan to test the viability of their business idea.

Winners of the two business categories will each be awarded a £12,500 cash investment, with schools winners taking away prizes of up to £10,000. Each of the teams that have made this year’s shortlist will receive a tailored package of business support and mentoring, provided by the University and a range of 2015 award partners, which include NatWest and Santander.

Business winners will have to wait until the Making Business Happen Awards celebration event on Thursday 16 April before they find out whether they have won one of the top prizes, while the student teams are invited to pitch their business plans in person to a panel of judges over two days in February.

Speaking after the first round of judging, University of South Wales graduate, founder of job seekers’ website and official Making Business Happen Awards ambassador, Aimee Bateman, said;

“We have received such a great response to the very first Making Business Happen Awards and the judges have faced an incredibly difficult task just to select a shortlist, let alone choose the winners.

“We have seen so many examples of successful businesses from across the UK and each of them have an inspirational story behind them. It is also great to see teams from different schools and colleges that are already demonstrating that they have the ingredients and the drive to take a good idea and turn it into a successful business.”

Among the students travelling to south Wales to take part in the Dragon’s Den-style pitch presentations later this month are a 16-year old college pupil from West Yorkshire whose hand-made and unique street decorations have graced the set of Coronation Street; four Essex boys with a Smartphone App that helps Sunday league football teams seek out willing opponents and a team from Somerset with an invention that helps frustrated greenhouse owners improve their crop yields.

The Making Business Happen Awards are organised by the University of South Wales as part of its tradition of encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial talent.

To find out more and to view the full list of shortlisted entries, visit: