Social enterprise wins business competition

A proposal to create an international volunteering social enterprise to tackle mental health issues in Japan has earned first prize in a student business competition.

Blue Skies Japan, the brainchild of BSc (Hons) Economics student Matt Lyons, would aim to provide training in schools and businesses across a nation where suicide rates are significantly higher than those in the UK.

It would also support psychology students and graduates who lack the practical experience to pursue a career in mental health.

The competition was run by the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre at Plymouth University in collaboration with The Range, with students pitching their ideas to city businessman Chris Dawson – the founder and owner of the company – who judged the entries.

Matt, who was awarded a £250 voucher for his first prize, said:

“This has been a great experience for me, and I would definitely advise other students that it’s well worth doing. As a successful entrepreneur himself, Chris gives some really good feedback so it’s really worth putting the time in.”

Chris Dawson added:

“I was pleased to be invited to judge this competition, as I believe there are so many young people with great ideas that just need a place to start. Matt was a very worthy winner who should continue to aim high in business. My own story proves that with hard work you can succeed in whatever you put your mind to.”

The competition was open to all students in the Faculty of Business, with the students having to write a one-page business plan based on a product or service they have been developing.

BSc (Hons) Marketing student Jason Gallantry was awarded second place and a £100 voucher for Doodle, an online store and app that allows consumers the freedom to create their own toys using 3D printing technology.

In third place and receiving a £50 voucher was Thomas Cashmore, studying for an MSc International Business, who developed Eyes On Your Property (EOYP), a security alternative based around the use of motion sensors.

The Range Business Plan competition is one of many events created by the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre which aims to provide a creative and social space where entrepreneurship and social enterprise can flourish.

Dr Emily Beaumont, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course, said: 

“We have a huge number of opportunities of experiences and opportunities available to students, including The Range competition. Our aim is to complement our students’ enthusiasm with the expertise to establish their own company, or confidently step into a range of entrepreneurial careers within organisations across the entire business world.”