Chopper venture creates campus buzz

A high-flying student at The University of Manchester has created a buzz by setting up a business importing and selling miniature helicopters.

Vernon Kerswell, a second year Information Systems Engineering student in the Manchester Business School, scooped the £1,000 first prize in the annual Venture Out competition after setting up a business importing and selling a range of easy-to-fly remote control miniature helicopters and UFOs.

Vernon and business partner Dominique Briggs have already sold nearly 2,000 of the flying machines through shops and via the company's website (http://www.extremefliers.co.uk).

Run by the University's Manchester Science Enterprise Centre (MSEC), Venture Out is the business ideas competition where students submit unique ideas ranging from fun and funky to the seriously high-tech.

This year the competition received a high standard of entries from right across the University. As part of the competition, special workshops were held to support entrants, who were then asked to complete a short entry form outlining the idea and its commercial application.

Second prize of £300 went to third year Modern Languages student Elizabeth Gillam, who has started up a novel social enterprise, which aims to combat global warming by utilising vacant city centre properties.
Third prize of £150 was claimed by Muhammad Ali, a third year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, who has pioneered a unique system for reducing the eye strain caused by PC monitors.

Henry Li's Original Limu Drink, a health drink made from Limu Moui, a seaweed found in Tonga, was highly commended by judges. Henry is a second year undergraduate studying Management and Leisure in the School of Education.

The Venture Out competition is supported by AstraZeneca, Barclays, Eversheds, Thread Creative, Ideas to Market and the University of Manchester Incubator Company.

The second part of the Venture competition is Venture Further, which is about to get underway. Entrants are provided with online support and drop in access to the Business Creation Unit throughout the semester to help them with their entry and putting together the business plan.

The teams with the best plans get to give a short presentation to the final judging panel. The top prize of £25,000 (including cash and in-kind support) is announced at the awards event. For more information please see http://www.manchester.ac.uk/venturecompetition/

Lynn Sheppard, Director of MSEC and one of the judges, said: "The aim of the competition is to give students across the whole university the chance to turn their ideas into reality and learn more about the process of new venture creation. The standard of entries this year was particularly high and it was great to see so much entrepreneurial spirit shining through."


Notes for editors

For more information please contact Alex Waddington, Media Relations Officer, The University of Manchester, 0161 275 8387 or Rowena James, Marketing Assistant, MSEC, Tel 0161 306 8487.

MSEC is based within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) at The University of Manchester but delivers its programmes throughout the entire campus. For more information please see www.msec.ac.uk