Lancaster University

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Lancaster-supported business faces the dragons

02/10/2005 14:43:53

A Lancashire businessman, who had help setting up his snowboard design company from Lancaster University, has appeared on BBC TV programme Dragons' Den.

Preston-born snowboarder Nick Rawcliffe hit upon the idea for a new winter sport in 1999 when he was a student at the Royal College of Art.

The Snowbone is basically a cross between a BMX and a snowboard. It is a uniquely designed handle and footplate that fits to an ordinary snowboard and dispenses with the need for fixed bindings, giving the rider more freedom.

The idea went down well with his tutors and over the years he worked on a number of different designs. Last year he approached Lancaster University where he was offered both engineering support and business advice.

This week his idea was put before a panel of judges on Dragons’ Den, a new show that pits ambitious entrepreneurs against top business talent, as they make a pitch to secure financial backing for their idea. Nick’s idea won the backing of Rachel Elnaugh of Red Letter Days who offered the company £75,000 in exchange for 29 per cent of the company.

Nick, 29, first came to Lancaster University for support when his company was at the early stages of development.

He was given advice about forming a company, securing Intellectual Property Rights and developing a sales strategy by the ERDF-funded Lancaster Business Creation (LBC) project based in Lancaster University’s Business Enterprise Centre. He was also supported by the design team of Lancaster Product Development Unit in the Engineering Department.

Nick said the prototype had already been tested out on the slopes of the Alps and in North America and has had a good reception from boarders and winter sports fans.

He said: “People are interested. They don’t know what it is at first so they are curious and a lot of people want to try it out for themselves. It’s the only form of winter sport you can do without any bindings so your feet aren’t in a fixed position. Effectively it’s a whole new sport.”

For more information about Snowbone go to

For more information about the Business Enterprise Centre go to

The Lancaster Business Creation project has been in consultation with hundreds of businesses since 2002 and has offered significant assistance to more than 42 local entrepreneurs.

The project aims to create and support new technology-based companies in the Lancaster Area. The team - based at Lancaster University – can offer funding for advice ranging from business planning to market research. They can also source expertise from within the university.

Lancaster Product Development Unit specialises in the pre-manufacture design of products brought to them from a wide range of industry sectors including automotive, aerospace, alternative and renewable fuels, engineering and manufacturing. Funding is available to support the design and development of products and processes, implementation of Computer Aided Design and related software and guidance on best practice and utilisation of Computer Aided Engineering software packages.