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University of Chester students behind innovations to help improve road safety, health, food choices, fashion options, the workplace and the environment are a step closer to realising their business dreams after being selected as finalists in its 2021 Enterprise Challenge.

A total of 10 students have been announced as finalists in the University’s Enterprise Challenge, run by The Graham Shapiro Foundation and powered by ARCET Global.

The competition offers the chance for emerging entrepreneurs from any degree discipline to have their ideas tested by a panel of business experts with an impressive pedigree of enterprise, and win £1,000 plus a mentorship programme from the Foundation.

The finalists, chosen from almost 70 entries, are:

  • Gena Fraser - Road Signs Aloud - an app/device that reads written traffic signs and written traffic information aloud, designed for - but not exclusive to - drivers with dyslexia.
  • Lina Tejoprayitno - Fast Pop Specs Limited, trading as Pop Specs, in partnership with Daniel Barnes - assembling a full set of prescription glasses within 15 minutes.
  • Liam Boyle - Pop-a-Drops - vitamin drops developed with expert advice from the University’s NoWFOOD Centre.
  • Marcin Jasinski - Rapid - an electric scooter hire service for residents of Chester.
  • Shakir Tahiri - Renewable Energy Storage - developing storage of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
  • Sondra Butterworth - RareQoL Limited - a not-for-profit social enterprise, working to improve quality of life for the rare disease community and under-represented groups, as well as families and individuals working and living with the effects of rare dementias.
  • Alzbeta Nelson - Making Eden - a design and consultancy company, connecting people and nature in sustainable places.
  • Hanna Andersen - As We Are - a coaching and training consultancy, with the aim to increase diversity in leadership and happiness at work.
  • Atinuke Owoeye - Sieuft Trading Limited - exporting (mainly food) products that are produced in Africa.
  • Valerie Hutson - Lokarbo Nutrition - creating a range of food with the NoWFOOD Centre, helping people achieve a healthy weight and combat Type 2 diabetes.

Graham Shapiro, driving force for the Challenge and Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Chester Business School, said: “We want to give young entrepreneurs every possible encouragement to realise their dreams.

“The standard of entries was excellent, exhibiting outstanding innovation and ambition. We look forward to finding out more about each student and business, announcing the winner and helping to transform their vision into successful enterprise.”

Mark Hamill, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ARCET Global said: “We’ve been thrilled with the entries from such inspiring young entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“The finalists have now been invited to submit a 10-minute video pitch of their business or idea. The judges and everyone involved is excited for the live-streamed virtual ceremony on July 14, when the winner will be revealed.”

Dr Connie Hancock, Head of Department for Management at Chester Business School added: “With core aims relating to everything from health to the environment, our students are developing enterprises which can make a big difference. This competition is one of many ways we encourage such entrepreneurship and is highlighting new initiatives and ideas with much promise for the future.

“We are extremely grateful to Graham Shapiro for making this Enterprise Challenge possible, in addition to all the support he provides as our Entrepreneur in Residence, and to ARCET Global for helping to run our competition so brilliantly.”

Students have described how they are “thrilled”, “delighted”, “proud” “honoured” and “excited” to be chosen as finalists, in addition to how it has given them “confidence” and drive to do well in the competition and grow their initiatives.

The Graham Shapiro Foundation is a charity that supports mental health, well-being, innovation and young entrepreneurialism in the UK and ARCET Global is a leading provider of professional services.

For further information about the Enterprise Challenge, please visit:


Some of the students share their reaction to being chosen as finalists:

Gena Fraser said: “I am thrilled to be a finalist in the 2021 Enterprise Challenge. Road Signs Aloud will help to make driving safer for so many drivers and I am honoured to have the opportunity to showcase my work via this platform.”

Liam Boyle said: "It is extremely exciting to take part in the Enterprise Challenge as there are some amazing prizes to be had; I feel very proud to be shortlisted."

Marcin Jasinski said: “I am incredibly grateful and excited to be one of 10 finalists. I am looking forward to taking part in the final stage and I wish the very best of luck to my competitors.”  

Shakir Tahiri said: “It feels a substantial achievement to be selected, in particular as a student with an engineering background. I seek to help people and bring a smart change in the future through the development of sustainable energy, photovoltaic systems and low-cost storage solutions for renewables - and hopefully, this programme will help achieve my goal." 

Sondra Butterworth said: "I am thrilled that RareQoL is one of the 10 finalists for the University of Chester Enterprise Challenge. With the guidance and support of my supervisors Associate Professor Dr Andrew Mitchell and Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead, during my Doctoral studies, I have really gained a solid grounding in the practice of psycho-social research, and set up social enterprise RareQoL Limited in July 2020. As part of this I am leading a ‘Whose Voice is it Anyway?’ campaign to draw attention to the voices of those who are often under-represented in discussions about issues that affect the rare disease community, looking at the UK Rare Diseases Framework and the English Action Plan, and working with Medics4RareDiseases and NHS England. The competition provides another opportunity to further the campaign #WhoseVoice."

Hanna Andersen said: “I'm thrilled to be in the final with such a talented group of student-led businesses. It feels reassuring that all the work it takes to sustain a business alongside studying is worth it.”

Atinuke Owoeye said: “I am delighted to be in the finals of the competition. It is an acknowledgement that I am doing something good, giving me more confidence to keep growing in my entrepreneurial experience and growing my own business some day.” 

Valerie Hutson added: “I'm absolutely delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist. Studying for my Food Science and Innovation MSc has given me the knowledge and confidence to want to get into the development kitchen and formulate some delicious, low carb products. Having reduced my carbohydrate intake over the last two years, I know the benefits and challenges first-hand and am excited to make it easier for others to follow this way of eating too."

On the judging panel are:

John M Mohin OBE D.Univ, Chairman of Graham Shapiro Design; Alissa Koopal, Chief Executive Officer at Pennine Events Ltd; Rob McKay, Managing Director of Sherrington Associates; Martin Nolan, Business and Leadership Coach; Cody Gapare, Founder of multi award-winning C-Lash as seen by Eylure, and Joel Blake OBE, Business Leader, Entrepreneur and Public Speaker.

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