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During the first national lockdown, Liam Boyle identified a growing health-consciousness amongst the general public and spotted a gap in the market for great tasting vitamin drops. He worked closely with experts in the University of Chester’s specialist food facility, The NoWFOOD Centre, to create tasty, high quality vitamin C and D drops.

Liam, aged 25 from Holywell in Flintshire, is a second year International Business Management student. He explained: “The idea has been developed as part of the Entrepreneurial Thought and Action course run by Dr. Connie Hancock. We were tasked with planning a start-up and made contacts in the NoWFOOD Centre. We have been awarded various funding from Santander and the EU Regional Development Fund.”

Expert food guidance

Liam needed help with fine-tuning their recipes and joined the Business Growth Programme (BGP) in December 2020 in order to access the food development expertise available in the NoWFOOD Centre.

Reaching production point

The BGP provided Liam with `kitchen days’ to work on their recipes. They have now sourced their ingredients, perfected their recipes and the drops have been thoroughly tested by NoWFOOD scientists.

Whilst lockdown has slowed progress on manufacturing, Liam will be able to use the kitchens in future to produce the drops and plan to manufacture the maximum in line with their budget.

Liam said that the NoWFOOD team has been essential to the business, adding. “Without the help of the team, my recipes wouldn’t have worked. It would not have been possible to manufacture the vitamin drops outside of a food facility such as NoWFOOD as there are stringent laws on the preparation of foodstuffs.”

Entrepreneurial award

Representing the University of Chester in the regional Young Enterprise pitching competition, Liam was awarded the Entrepreneurial Student of the Year 2021 for the North West. Dr. Connie Hancock, Head of Department: Enterprise, Leadership & Management at the University of Chester said: “I can put this win into context by telling you that all North West universities were represented at the event and a panel of senior business leaders representing companies such as Bentley, Home Bargains, Santander and others sat in judgement. This is an outstanding achievement, Liam has been working as part of his start-up journey on this module with the NoWFOOD Centre in the development of his new venture and has received investment from external sources to progress his business. He is an amazing second year undergraduate who thoroughly deserves this accolade and I’m so proud of him.”

Future plans

Liam aims to take an entrepreneurial year out next year to build Pop-a-Drops while enhancing his degree. After graduating, he hopes to continue building the business.

Start-up support

The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Entrepreneurs, SMEs and pre-start businesses registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington, meeting the eligibility criteria, can apply for support. Help is available from our team of Business Engagement Managers and access is also available to facilities at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science ParkRiverside Innovation Centre and the NoWFOOD Centre.

If you are a business seeking access to facilities and expert growth support, contact the University of Chester’s Business Growth Team by emailing businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk.