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£2,000 bursaries awarded to two student enterprises at University of Sussex

Santander Junior Associate Entrepreneurship Bursary winners: (L-R) Jessica May Hislop, Marios Petri, Andreas Georgiades

Two £2,000 prizes have been awarded to enterprising students as part of this year's University of Sussex Santander Junior Associate Entrepreneurship Bursary scheme.

Jessica May Hislop (second year, MPhys Physics with Astrophysics [Research Placement]) and Andreas Georgiades (third year, BSc Marketing and Management) and his co-founder Marios Petri will receive bursaries to help them develop their business ideas - with the support of experts at the Sussex Innovation Centre, which manages the scheme on behalf of the University. 

Jessica's business, the Space Party Agency, is designed to create interest and enthusiasm for the STEM subjects among 5-11 year olds, by running children’s parties with a space theme. She plans to use the funds to work on developing her business plan and creating a marketing strategy, as well as seeking advice around her intellectual property. 

The competition judges felt that the Space Party Agency represented a timely and valuable effort to inspire children with science, at a time when educators and government are making a concerted effort to address the STEM skills gap by encouraging more young people – and particularly girls – to engage with these subjects.

"I'm honoured to have been chosen for the bursary," said Jessica. "I can't explain what a boost this is, and such a pleasant surprise. This business is something I truly care about so much, and I am so excited to now be able to further the Space Party Agency with this financial support, but more so the guidance, advice and experience of the team at the Sussex Innovation Centre." 

Andreas' and Marios' business, the Brighton Greek Organisation, is dedicated to the mission of "creating a home away from home" by connecting the Greek and Cypriot diaspora, organising events and cultural activities as well as providing a resource for housing and job opportunities.  

The team plan to use the funds to develop a business plan around their future plans for the organisation, including a mobile application and a proposed Hellenic festival that will raise money to provide financial grants for Greek and Cypriot students. They also hope to extend the concept to other areas around the UK.  

The judges' decision to award the bursary to the Brighton Greek Organisation was influenced by the design of its business model, which they felt had the potential to be replicated across similar communities linked by nationality and culture.  

"It's amazing news, we are so excited to have been awarded the bursary, and we are eager to begin our relationship with the Sussex Innovation Centre," said Andreas. "Through the Brighton Greek Organisation we hope to help Greeks in the UK, like myself, to feel belonging and a connection with their own culture and people." 

Both winners were judged to have shown initiative and commitment to their business ideas, by having already laid the groundwork to establish them. Both also demonstrated that they had a clear plan for the direction of the business, and recognised an opportunity to build on their work and take the concept to a wider market.  

"The purpose of this award is to offer students at Sussex the chance to develop their ideas and realise an entrepreneurial experience," said Peter Lane, who manages the Business Support Team at the Sussex Innovation Centre. "Enthusiasm and drive go a long way to achieving that, and both Jessica and Andreas communicated those attributes in spades.

"Both winners' success was also partly by virtue of being 'at the right moment' in their journey - we'd encourage applicants who were unsuccessful this time to apply again next year, given more time to develop their ideas to reach the point where they are best placed for us to support them."  

Four prizes of £2,000 each are awarded across every academic year as part of the StartUp Sussex Enterprise Programme, a joint initiative delivered by the Sussex Innovation Centre and the University of Sussex Careers and Employability Centre. To find out more about how to apply for one of next term's bursaries, contact the StartUp Sussex team by email. 

By: Tom Walters
Last updated: Thursday, 7 July 2016