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.

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.

The 2015 judging panel includes several leading University of South Wales academics together with representatives from Fresh Business Thinking, NatWest, Santander, training and development specialist Awbery Management Centre, The Creative Thinking Company.

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.”

Full shortlist

Graduate Start-up Award

- Luke Joseph Sharples, Joseph Lukes Guitars
- Sebastian Feehan/Josh Bamford, Next Door Films
- Bizzy Day/Kate Wasserberg, The Other Room
- Akshay Peer/Matthew Lakelin, TrackCel Ltd

SME Business Growth Award

- Russel Jones/Adam Millbank/Zoe Gladstone-Smith/Robert Lewis, Jones Millbank
- Samuel Thomas Bruce/Alex Narracott/Guy Bowden, Much Better Adventures
- Jonathan Vaughan Williams/Francesca Barkinel/Amy Gwyther/Danuta Jedrys, Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company
- Dean Tempest/Ben Drummond/Tris Williams, Linkee Ltd

Aspiring Entrepreneurs Award

- Eve Lodge, Barmy
- Led del Rosso/Arun Dhesi/Ben Coker/Dominic Reynolds, Footy Life
- Edward Shorney, GoRookie: The Apprenticeship Finder
- Emma Young, iStudent
- Reece Breslin/Jasmine Gannon/William Gotch/Jasper Alyn Stephens/Robert Fearnley, Pellpoint
- Gabriel Barnes/Jake Malley/Alex Osborne/Harry Foreman, Plant Notes
- Usman Ghaffar, Offers Cloud

USE Entrepreneurs Challenge

- Mark Leslie, Cromlech Media Consultants Ltd
- James Moos, Digital Forensics Consultancy
- Eunice Chipachini, FarmCroft
- Ioan Brannigan, IaB Reading
- Benjamin Prentice, Nightlight
- Matt Didon, ON LX Ltd
- Sibongukuhle Janine Dube, OneVybe Magazine
- Evan Tamblyn/Josiah Shelley, StartWrite

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