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Martin Beddis, aged 46, from Runcorn, studies Sport Coaching and Development at the University’s Warrington Campus. Martin is the brains behind SprayShield UK Ltd., a road safety company, and had the innovative idea to create a shield system for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to reduce water spray being forced into the path of other road users during wet weather.

Martin said: “For those of us who drive, we have all had experiences of driving behind an HGV in wet weather – keeping your distance, before putting your wipers on high speed, before trying to get past as quickly and safely as possible. In wet conditions, spray can be an accident waiting to happen. The spray generated by HGVs is particularly problematic. Reducing visibility means increased risk for all road users. Our product looks to address this problem.

“Sprayshield is a retro fit system to all truck trailers and flatbed trailers.  A rail is installed on both sides of the trailer which houses a spray curtain. This unique system is designed to deflect rain water through a complex system of veins which funnels the water down to the road rather than outwards in a spray form into the path of oncoming traffic.”

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards launched in 2011. Since then, it has grown to be one of the UK’s largest student and graduate pitching competition. Santander reward entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes, mentoring and start-up support, and have so far given away more than £420,000 to start-ups and small businesses. This year the awards have received the highest number of applications ever, with Santander engaging with over 2,000 entrepreneurs on campuses across the UK. This is the first time a student from the University of Chester has made it through to the semi-finals.

Martin was one of the first recipients of the Santander Entrepreneurship Fund, which gives students the opportunity to apply for up to £250 of funding, or office space, to start or grow their business, enhance their enterprise skills or to build their freelance career. Martin has since taken part in the University’s Venture Programme this academic year. The Venture Programme is for students interested in starting up their own business, becoming self-employed, freelancing or innovating within an organisation, equpping them with the necessary skills and knowledge. Martin also took part in The Pitch 2019 and was awarded £500 worth of funding and desk space for his business.

The University’s Venture Team encouraged and supported Martin to apply to the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards and subsequently put him forward to represent the University of Chester.

Martin said: “I have had this idea of a business for some time now, but have not had the support in place to get things off the ground. That is until now.  After joining the University of Chester and meeting with the Venture Team, I have been able to not only access funding to get my prototype built, but also access some invaluable workshops, seminars and the personal support offered by the Venture Team.  They have always been there to help and give support and guidance and I can’t thank them enough.”

Kirsty Badrock, Entrepreneurship Co-Ordinator in the Employer Engagement Team, Student Futures at the University, said: “We are incredibly proud of Martin’s achievement. Martin is a very inspirational individual who has shown tremendous entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm, resilience and commitment to develop his business over the course of the year through the Venture Programme. We will be cheering Martin on at the semi-final in York, and we wish him all the best in his efforts to get to the final.”

Martin will be pitching his business idea at the semi-finals which are being held at the University of York on June 26, alongside 20 of the best businesses from universities across the region. The national final will be in October.

Emilio Botin launched Santander Universities in Spain in 1996, as an effective vehicle for business investment into its communities. The programme now has over 1,200 University partners across 20 countries. Santander Universities UK launched in 2007; encompassing 87 universities and providing over £10m of funding in 2018 alone.

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