Student entrepreneurs impress local business leaders in Dragons’ Den-style Enterprise Finals

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The Hartpury Enterprise Finals returned for a fourth year last week, with eight student entrepreneurs pitching their enterprising ideas to a panel of local business leaders. Organised by Hartpury’s Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) centre, the Enterprise Finals run in a similar format to the Dragons’ Den TV show, and provide students with an opportunity to develop business acumen, build confidence and potentially boost their career and financial prospects.

The finalists, who had already submitted a full business plan and a 90-second pitch video, explained their proposals in detail before facing constructive feedback and questions from a panel of experts from organisations including Renouf Wealth Management, Federation of Small Businesses, 71a, Hazlewoods and Westend Office Suites.

The class of 2023 includes Amy Cook-Davis (A-levels), Matilda Harris (A-levels), Zoe Bridges (Access to Higher Education Diploma), Avery Caine (BSc (Hons) Equine Performance and Rehabilitation), Cindy Cowling (MRes Equestrian Performance), Jonty Briggs (BSc (Hons) Canine Training and Performance), Lance Craswell (BSc (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport), and Liam le Roux (BA (Hons) Sports Business Management).

Each university finalist will now be assigned a member of the panel for a 12-month mentorship, while the college finalists will be onboarded to a business programme that will help them develop their ideas further. The finalists will also receive a share of the £6,000 Enterprise Fund.

Simon Spooner, Head of Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) at Hartpury said: “This year, we’ve had an incredible mix of students that were already running businesses selling fare, such as therapy cosmetic products and artisanal cakes, through to creative solutions for schools in PE. We’ve seen some amazing concept ideas that could disrupt the golf and equine industries, one of which is already at prototype stage and gaining praise for its potential to benefit horse welfare.”

The competition not only provides students with an opportunity to further develop their business idea, but also to gain a greater understanding of a range of business topics. For those students that didn’t make the finals this year, the Hartpury ICE team will reach out to them to encourage them to progress their ideas so that they can be considered for the 2024 process.

College and university students of all ages are able to partake in the finals.

Cindy Cowling, one of the finalists and an MRes Equestrian Performance student said: “Even for mature students like me, the process is a big learning curve and incredibly valuable. I’m grateful for the financial support offered which will be fundamental to keep the project moving forward. Having the support of multiple mentors is a huge asset, so I’d like to thank the Hartpury ICE team for assembling such a knowledgeable and diverse panel.”

Following a busy Enterprise Finals day, the panel were quick to praise the class of 2023.

Michelle Collins, Local Enterprise Manager at NatWest said: “The Enterprise Finals are a fabulous event that shows the dedication and commitment put in by the whole of the Hartpury ICE team. I’ve really enjoyed working with students to shape their business ideas.

“I was very impressed with the standard and quality of not just the pitches but the ideas themselves and very much look forward to so seeing how the businesses shape up going forward.”

Ian Renouf-Watkins, Managing Director of Renouf Wealth Management said: “This was yet another great year showcasing the extraordinary maturity and commitment shown by the students.”

Ian recently talked to us about his relationship with Hartpury and why he enjoys supporting the Enterprise Finals.

Sam Holliday, FSB Development Manager added: “I’d like to thank Simon Spooner and the Hartpury ICE team for their efforts and for making the Enterprise Finals a success. I’ve been staggered and hugely motivated by the passion shown by the students, and I think this competition bestows great credit on Hartpury and its commitment to local business and entrepreneurship.

The qualified Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) team offer careers advice and guidance, embedded Knowledge, Attributes, Skills and Experience (KASE) workshops, employability and enterprise opportunities, as well as enrichment activities and placement support. We’re accredited by the Matrix Standard, which means students are guaranteed to get the highest standard of careers support.

This helps to create graduates that are highly employable; 97% are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity within 15 months (Graduate Outcomes, 2022).


Students have a range of opportunities to work alongside local businesses and industry leaders while studying for their high-quality college or university qualification, through our network of 3,000 employer connections. These valuable connections lay the foundations for future employment, management, and entrepreneurship

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