Lancaster University

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Graduate Students Win a Place at the World’s Largest Business Planning Competition

03/18/2010 15:50:26

A team of Lancaster postgraduate students has won entry to the Rice University Business Plan Competition, the most prestigious of its kind in the world. The Lancaster team is one of 42 selected from over 400 entries from around the world, which compete for more than $800,000 in cash and prizes. The final takes place at Rice University in Houston, USA, on 15th – 17th April 2010.

The competition is judged by venture capital managers, angel or informal investors and other members of the entrepreneurial community. More important than the winners’ cash prize of $325,000 is the opportunity to network and receive mentoring from successful entrepreneurs.

The plan put forward by the Lancaster team describes a company, ‘Gaea Naturals Limited’, that uses an innovative approach to industrial waste water recycling with minimal consumption of energy to help a variety of industries meet sustainability and regulatory obligations, save costs and reduce carbon footprint. The team combines the entrepreneurial vision and abilities of three members of the Lancaster MBA class, Manoj Krishnapillai, Sonu Bubna and Juan C. Reyes, with the technical knowledge from the Lancaster Environment Centre, brought by PhD student Shams Qamar Usmani.

Dr Frank Cave of Lancaster’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, the team’s mentor, said “This is the second time a collaboration between technical graduates and entrepreneurial management students has won a place at the Rice Competition, demonstrating the power of such partnerships. The team have received the encouragement and active support of Chris Saunders, Director of the Full-time MBA and his team in the Management School, David Pettifer—an Honorary professor in LUMS—and of Dr Mark Bacon and Dr Kirk Semple of the Lancaster Environment Centre. We are all very proud of them and wish them success in Houston.”

The team have also been supported by an International Travel Award towards the expenses of participation generously provided by AAI Global Equity one of the competition’s major sponsors.

For more information please contact Frank Cave on 01524 594057 or