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Durham University

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Student Entrepreneurs show they mean business

(3 April 2019)

Plastech: Scott Bush, Natasha Boulding, Philip Buckley

A prize fund of £5,000 was at stake for the finalists of the Blueprint StartUp Challenge who competed on 21 March at the Marriott Hotel in front of a panel of business experts.

What is the Blueprint StartUp Challenge? 

Now in its 17th year, the Blueprint Challenge is a competition for students and recent graduates which provides a launch pad for exceptional businesses. All entrants to the competition receive support and advice in developing their business plans.

The winners receive a £5,000 fund to support their business growth, along with an exceptional package of support from the University’s Careers and Enterprise service, including networking opportunities and publicity.

What does the competition involve?

Finalists were shortlisted on the strength of their business plans and asked to pitch their ideas to an expert panel. This included representatives from Santander, Ignite, and our own Careers and Enterprise Team.

Jake Newport, a Durham alumnus who founded Finnmark Saunas and is based locally in Spennymoor, was on the judging panel. Jake was a former finalist in the Blueprint Challenge and has gone on to enjoy significant success in business.

What’s next for the finalists?

The winner of the Blueprint’s StartUp Challenge will be announced at the Enterprise Celebration Dinner on 8 May. We will keep you posted on the results!

Who were the finalists and what are their businesses?

Finalists included an impressive array of businesses, each proposing unique solutions to very different problems. Here are some of the business ideas:

Faultfinder 3D 

Team: Lewis O’Shea

3D printers are currently flawed, with high error rates leading to printing inefficiency. Faultfinder 3D is an error detection software, compatible with millions of computers worldwide, which is set to revolutionise 3D printing. 


Team: Andres Olivares

Lumi is a technical solution for helping individuals and businesses effortlessly measure and offset their carbon footprints. By making the process effortless, Lumi hope’s to catalyse a large pool of people who are interested in climate topics, but that aren’t currently measuring or offsetting their footprints.


Team: Scott Bush, Phil Buckley, Natasha Boulding

Plastech Innovation take undesirable, postconsumer waste plastic that is destined for landfill and process it into novel plastic aggregate for use in concrete. This makes concrete lighter in weight; reducing the CO2 output and costs from the transportation of heavy natural aggregates, and also increasing the efficacy of construction projects.

Strength for Students 

Team: Marcus Rowley, Eleni Chouchoulis, Niamh Paterson-Moody

Strength for Students, is an all-encompassing wellbeing platform aiming at to alleviate pressure from University Counselling Services by addressing the ever-increasing demand for support. Created by students for students, SFS’s foundations lie in its strong peer-to-peer support network and the collection of established tools enhancing mental and physical health.


Team: William Bowen, Benjamin Molony, James Coates 

Efficiency2 is an efficiency solving solutions company. Its aim is to create products or services for scientists, creating efficiency gaining solutions. With an initial focus on laboratory work optimization, Efficiency2 will discover and promote further optimization solutions for companies that often focus on pursuing scientific research.


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