Business minded students win UHI student enterprise competition

Four entrepreneurial students from across the UHI partnership have been awarded funding to invest in their business ideas.

The student enterprise competition offers practical business support to students from all disciplines who aspire to run their own business, create a social enterprise and develop their enterprise skills. Entrants were provided with training and a small pot of funding to invest in their business idea.  

The competition, funded by Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the university sector, also gives students an opportunity to explore undertaking a full Converge application for additional funding and support.  

Applications were received by students from across the UHI partnership, with winners studying at UHI Inverness, UHI Moray, UHI Perth and UHI West Highland.  

Judith Nott is currently studying for a diploma in person-centered counselling and psychotherapy at UHI Inverness. Judith was awarded £500 for a nature-based counselling service in Badenoch and Strathspey, offering face to face person-centered counselling and eco-therapy.  

Speaking of the award, Judith said: “The competition offers students the chance to give more in depth consideration to their business idea and to focus on questions they may not have previously considered.  

“The process was really useful, allowing me to think about aspects of my business idea I may have otherwise overlooked. I’m delighted to be one of the successful entrants - the prize money will help towards specialist training, enabling me to offer nature therapy as part of my counselling service”. 

Gergana Sirakova, a HNC beauty therapy student at UHI Perth, won £500 for the provision of non-surgical skin treatments using collagen products. Gergana hopes to encourage more people to invest in themselves and will use products containing collagen to boost skin elasticity. Gergana plans to use the funding to purchase products and equipment to kickstart her idea. 

Gergana added: “I’m ambitious and motivated, and my dream has always been to create a unique beauty salon. My motivation comes from my desire to create a good lifestyle for me and my family.  

“When I entered the student enterprise competition I had already secured premises for my salon, so I applied with the mindset of winning the funding to help me buy the products required to offer unique collagen treatment for people to slow the ageing process without surgery or botox.” 

Lyn Goodenough, a BSc (Hons) integrative healthcare student at UHI Moray, has been awarded £250 for a complementary therapy business that provides bespoke treatments to meet the needs of clients. Lyn’s services would include clinical aromatherapy, reflexology, and various massage treatments. Lyn will use the funding for marketing purposes and to purchase equipment.  

Lyn added: “The competition really helped me think through all the aspects of setting up my business and how I wanted to develop it. I was very well supported through the process to make my pitch and I was over the moon to win a prize.  

“Being a mature student setting up my business after a change in career is quite daunting, but the competition has given me more confidence and the motivation to just go for it.” 

Gregor Melville, a BA (Hons) adventure education student at UHI West Highland, was awarded £250 for the provision of vending machines aimed at those living in student accommodation in Fort William. Gregor says that the machines would provide those working or studying late with an opportunity to purchase food and drink if required.  

Gregor said: " I’ve had an idea to set up a small business for a while now and was slowly working my way to do it. I saw the competition just before it closed, applied and won. The prize money and the encouragement from the judges has also boosted my motivation to set up my business quicker.   

“I would highly recommend this if you are business minded or have a great idea, having someone or something like this competition to back you and encourage you makes a massive difference." 

More information on the student enterprise competition.