Launchpad set for liftoff
Imagine coming face-to-face with a true-life digital avatar of yourself.
Or benefiting from a waste water process that reduces our carbon footprint by capturing the global warming gas CO2.
What may sound like science fiction could well become a reality thanks to a competition aimed at getting young businesses off the ground at a world-class learning and business campus in the heart of London Thames Gateway.
Nearly 30 budding entrepreneurs in technology are having their embryonic business plans pored over by judges, with business support prizes worth more than £35,000.
The ground-breaking Launchpad@ceme competition - thought to be the first of its kind in and around London - is being held by the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) at its campus on Marsh Way, Rainham, East London.
CEME is managed by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres.
The competition contributes to Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs in the UK from November 14th - 20th November.
One of the Launchpad@ceme entrants is a 15-year-old lad who took the initiative to find out how to write a business plan for a fashion brand idea.
Bill Williams, the chief executive of CEME, a registered charity, said: “Economic growth has never been more important, as world financial events have shown, and this is a novel way of identifying promising entrepreneurs with exciting ideas that could one day translate into new jobs in technology.
“A number of the entrants have come up with innovative ideas that could end up being mainstream products with the right early-stage business support at CEME Innovation Centre.
“They include a special measurement tool for creating true-life digital replicas of people, which is like something out of the movie Avatar, to a bio-technology process that could draw carbon dioxide out of water to reduce pollution. “Our ultimate aim, with the help of the next generation of Lord Alan Sugars and Steve Jobs, is to make London Thames Gateway an important technology ecosystem in the UK, igniting economic growth and regeneration and creating a strong and balanced economy.
“The diversity of entries is impressive, and the fact that a 15-year-old lad has the confidence to take part shows that East London and Essex has an inspirational ‘can-do’ attitude and bodes well for the future.
“CEME offers technology companies much more than first-class workshop and office accommodation.
“Our tenants have access to leading-edge prototyping machinery, design software, engineering machine tools and test facilities that they can use themselves to speed up the growth of their companies and profits.
“We want to help local technology entrepreneurs to enjoy the success that so many of our current tenants enjoy – this is the first year for Launchpad@ceme but it will be an annual competition.”
The awards ceremony takes place on Tuesday evening, November 15th, 2011, at CEME Innovation Centre.
David Nix, Regional Director, Thames Gateway, Oxford Innovation, said: “High-tech companies, inevitably, require some handholding in their early years, and the winner of Launchpad@ceme will get this through the best of environments and business support packages at CEME Innovation Centre.”
The winner will receive the offer of free office or workshop space at CEME Innovation Centre for one year and a tailored package of business support including access to marketing, finance and HR experts, business workshops and meeting and conference rooms at the CEME conference centre.
Five shortlisted entries will each have 10 minutes to present their plans to the judges, after which the judges will have 45 minutes to agree on a winner, a runner up and any special mentions.
Runners-up receive a package of business support.
Picture caption: INNOVATION: Flashback to the summer, when an innovation in electrical car charging was unveiled at the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) in Rainham, Essex. Dubbed 'eTap' - electricity on tap - the system combines solar energy and power from the national grid to charge Britain's growing fleet of electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Just the sort of idea being encouraged in the Launchpad@ceme competition, thought to be the first of its kind in and around London, with the winner being announced at CEME Innovation Centre on November 15th, with £35,000 worth of business support prizes to be won. CEME’s Bill Williams, left, is pictured with Charles Montlake of ETap, centre, and the Minister of Transport, Norman Baker.