IDEAFEST – Student Business Idea Competition 2015

The Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE) at Henley Business School is running a competition open to all students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at the University of Reading, to be held during spring 2015. The competition, which is sponsored by Pitmans, is looking for the best business ideas, with finalists being invited to an event where they will present their ideas to a panel of judges.

About the Competition

The competition will give students the opportunity to present their business ideas and gain support that could lead to them being commercialised. No prior knowledge of entrepreneurship is needed but students should be passionate about developing and pursuing business ideas. It will be particularly beneficial for students taking a module in entrepreneurship, to consolidate their learning and put theory into practice.

Before the entry closing deadline, participants will be invited to attend a workshop to help develop their ideas and provide insights into the theory and practice of business idea generation and development.

Entries are to be made online by Friday, 1 May 2015 by completing a questionnaire and making a short (3 minute) video about the idea.

All entries will be reviewed by a judging panel and a shortlist of 5 finalists selected to present their ideas on Wednesday, 27 May 2015. At the presentation event, attended by students and faculty members, the winners will be selected by the panel and announced, with prizes then presented.

Students may enter as sole participants or in teams – maximum three students.

The best business idea, as judged by the panel, will win a £1,000 cash prize.

There will be cash prizes of £500 and £250 for second and third places. In addition to the prize money, the top 3 teams will receive mentoring from a Pitmans executive to help them develop their business plans and commercialise their ideas.

Competition Schedule

Workshop ‘Developing your Business Idea’ Workshop Monday, 23 March
Entries open Wednesday 1 April
Entries close Friday 1 May
Finalists announced By Friday 8 May
Presentations and winners crowned event (14:00-17:00) Wednesday 27 May


The workshop  is open to students who plan to enter the competition, to help them develop their ideas, applying the teaching provided during the workshop. Numbers are limited so will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The workshop is a one day event covering a range of topics, presentations and group working sessions, and will be delivered by members of the HCfE faculty, HCfE Business Development Lead and a partner from Pitmans.

Students will be asked to submit answers to questions 1-4 of the questionnaire on the Competition Entry Form ahead of the workshop, to help prepare facilitators to support their assigned groups.

Judging the competition

The business ideas will be evaluated and a shortlist of 5 selected by a judging panel.

Pete Doyle, Founder & CEO, Social Retail Limited
John Cavill, Director, Intermezzo Ventures Ltd
Norbert Morawetz, Lecturer at Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship
Christopher Avery, Managing Partner Pitmans
Jurek Sikorski, Business Development Lead & Executive in Residence, HCfE
Jenny Tooth, CEO UK BAA

Entries will be judged against predefined criteria that will address the key questions including:

  • How unique and viable is the business idea?
  • Does a (sufficiently large and growing) market exist for the business idea?
  • How well does the business idea compete with existing suppliers
  • Will the business idea make money?

The winner and runners up will be chosen from the shortlist of candidates by the panel in front of an audience. The audience will also be will be polled for a popular vote via social media.

Presentations and Prizes

The 5 finalists will be invited to attend an afternoon session at Henley Business School to present their ideas to the judging panel and an audience of current students, alumni, competition entrants, faculty members and guests.

Winners will be announced and awards presented by the Managing Partner of Pitmans, followed by a networking session.

Presentations and awards will be held on Wed 27 May 2015 between 14:00-17:00.

Competition Terms & Conditions

  • The competition is open to students who are studying for an undergraduate or post graduate degree programme on our Whiteknights campus on the closing date
  • The business idea must be the original work of the student team
  • Entries must be received by the closing date; there will be no extension
  • Prizes may be withheld if in the opinion of the judges there is no application of sufficient merit
  • The decision of the Panel is final
  • Students agree to presentations being recorded and used by Henley Business School and Pitmans in their marketing campaigns


The competition is sponsored exclusively by Pitmans LLP

Competition website

Click here to visit the competition website and find out more information.

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