A TEAM of enterprising students will represent the University of Chester at a regional competition after impressing with a product designed to reduce footballing injuries and improve performance.

Their invention, Headshield Pro, was chosen from a group of forward-thinking ventures showcased at the Young Enterprise (YE) Start-up event held at the University’s Business School.

A smart sporting headband, Headshield Pro is designed to reduce injury and enhance performance during football training and matches, specifically when heading the ball.

It’s creators - Josh Cox, Alex Sawyer, Douglas Buike, Vlad Zaueras, and Josh Weston - will now go to the North West Final of the YE Start-Up Awards, at Manchester Metropolitan University on February 21, 2024. Winners of the North West stage will go onto the UK Final.

Students presented their businesses, which had been developing since October, to a distinguished panel, including: Suzanne Lockwood from YE; Sirin Arif and Ben McCormick from Bentley Motors; Jon Golby from Sopra Steria, and University of Chester alumni, John Champion, who has a background at BAE Systems, and Charlotte Bulger from Microsoft.

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Two other projects also earned recognition at the University of Chester event. Ditched, a soothing alternative to creams and lotions aimed at preventing skin breakage from scratching due to skin conditions, gained the Sustainability Award. The group members - Olly Hunter, Kirsty Alexander, Molly-May Pratt, Gwenno Thomas, and Millie Loosemoore - demonstrating their commitment to environmentally conscious solutions.

Chester and District Standard: Joanne (left to right): Sumaya Kadondi and Maisie Stevens.Joanne (left to right): Sumaya Kadondi and Maisie Stevens. (Image: University of Chester)

Joanne, a mobile app and community providing people with confidence when travelling at night in new areas, was honoured with the Innovation Award. The group members - Peter Evens, Maisie Stevens, Matt Stead, and Sumaya Kadondi - showcased a cutting-edge solution addressing safety concerns and fostering a sense of security in unfamiliar environments.

Conor Dangerfield, Lecturer and Joint Module Leader said: “As the leaders of the Entrepreneurial Thought and Action module at the University, we are immensely proud of all the students who participated in the Young Enterprise Start-Up Awards Chester event. Each student, regardless of the awards, has demonstrated remarkable dedication, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit that reflects the core values of our module. We believe in fostering a culture of innovation, and these students have truly embraced that ethos.”

Cheryl Sorensen, Lecturer and Joint Module Leader, said: “As we congratulate the winners - Headshield Pro, Ditched, and Joanne - we are equally excited about the continued development of every business idea presented. The diversity of projects showcased speaks to the breadth of talent and ingenuity within our student body. We look forward to supporting and witnessing the ongoing growth of each venture, as these students embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.”

A business launch event also took place in early February, to provide a unique platform for all the businesses developed during the module to come together, informally discuss their ideas, and share their entrepreneurial journeys. This event, at Queen’s Park, not only celebrated the hard work and creativity of the students but also aimed to build connections and collaboration between entrepreneurs.

Lisa Conway, Deputy Head of the Management Division at Chester Business School, said: “It has offered another fantastic chance to engage with these aspiring entrepreneurs, gain insights into their innovative projects, and witness first-hand the passion and dedication they've poured into their ventures.

“All enjoyed a vibrant and interactive session, with an exciting exchange of ideas and networking opportunities emerging. We would like to thank everyone for joining our students for an inspiring morning of entrepreneurship. Your presence and support play a crucial role in encouraging these budding entrepreneurs as they embark on their business endeavours.”