By Amy Cutler

The UCFB Sports Entrepreneur Award, a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition for ambitious UCFB students to pitch their innovative ideas for sports companies to a panel of successful business leaders, recently saw the winners of its second edition crowned at Wembley Stadium, home of UCFB Wembley.

Providing UCFB students from both campuses with the opportunity to compete for a £5,000 investment to develop and launch their own business venture, the objective of the competition was to encourage all students to engage in the innovation of sport.

Entrants were challenged with the task of creating a unique sports-related product, preparing a pitch and presenting this to the esteemed panel. The panel included Brendan Flood, Chairman of UCFB; Philip Wilson, Chief Executive at UCFB; Paul Fletcher MBE, former Chief Executive at Burnley Football Club; John Banaszkiewicz, a global leader within trading markets; and UCFB Finance Director John Davies.

The standard of each entrant was remarkable with students from all over the world demonstrating a high level of professionalism and market awareness. The panel deliberated over each pitch and granted the Sports Entrepreneur Award to the winning partnership of Alex Sturge, BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student at UCFB Wembley and Bastian Hildebrand, BA (Hons) International Football Business student at UCFB Wembley.

UCFB Chairman Brendan Flood, creator of the Sport Entrepreneur Award, is now mentoring the winning students through the planning and development of their idea. He reflected on the winners and the competition:

“They were complementary as a team. They had the curiosity about the market that they were in and the ability to see why it would work from a customer experience point of view. It was an intelligent proposition. Any student, any member of staff, anybody visiting this environment can only feel excitement and can only feel inspired.”

Alex Sturge, one half of the winning pair, commented:

“Brendan Flood is an experienced business leader and has been incredibly helpful towards taking our product to market. We are in the process of forming our company and the next stage is product development. There are so many angles that we haven’t thought of and connections that he has. It’s fantastic to work with someone so knowledgeable in the industry. It is a terrific experience and we wouldn’t have had it without UCFB.”

Fellow Sports Entrepreneur Award winner, Bastian Hildebrand, added:

“The entire experience has been amazing. We have met so many influential people. On top of that, we have earned the recognition and respect of our peers and the academic team at UCFB. Connections are important in sport, so the experience can only benefit us in the future. Above all, we now have the opportunity to pursue an exciting business venture at the start of our careers within sport.”