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Press release

  • 8 October 2004
  • Enterprising student named UK winner

    Enterprising Sussex student Martina Rieder has won the national final of a major business competition with her medical product design that's set to benefit thousands of patients.

    The 24-year-old biochemistry and management studies undergraduate has been named the 'UK's Most Enterprising Student' on the Shell Technology Enterprise Programme (STEP) 2004. She received a trophy and prize money of £1,000 at a London awards ceremony on October 6.

    Her two projects were selected out of some 1,400 entries in the STEP programme, which offers structured summer work placements for students at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). 

    Martina's eight-week placement was with Welland Medical, a Crawley-based medical appliance company that makes products for people who have undergone bowel surgery. She interviewed hospital patients and carried out chemistry research to enable her to design a more durable and comfortable colostomy 'flange'. Flanges are used to attach waste bags to the skin surrounding a stoma (a surgically created opening in the body). Welland plans  to patent the product. In another project, Martina was able to identify and resolve problems in the production process, saving Welland thousands of pounds.

    Dr Rory Smith, Director of Research and Development at Welland Medical Limited, said: "Martina has been an outstanding contributor to not just one but two significant projects. Success in one would have been a brilliant achievement, but to have achieved so much in both is a tribute to her dedication, energy and commitment. And, of course, it's a wonderful boost for Welland Medical."

    Commenting on the award,  Martina, whose family home is in Munich, Germany, said:  "This is a fantastic award and STEP has been an amazing experience. I hope that with my projects I have really improved the quality of patients' lives."

    Patsie Sutcliffe, Sussex Manager for STEP at the Sussex Innovation Centre at the University of Sussex, said: "Martina put her heart and soul into this project, so it is wonderful to see her dedication rewarded in this way."

    Speaking at the eighteenth STEP UK Final, Nigel Griffiths MP, Minister for Small Business & Enterprise, said: "STEP is a terrific scheme allowing young people to 'make their mark' and it reminds businesses about the wealth of talent our undergraduates have. Students see at first hand what enterprise is all about.  STEP has an immediate, positive impact on those businesses taking part, not least in helping them identify and plug any gaps in their skills bases." 


    Notes for editors 

    For further information, call STEP on 0870 036 5450 or visit

    To find out more about Sussex Innovation Centre, visit

    University of Sussex Press Office:  Maggie Clune,

    or Jacqui Bealing, Tel: 01273 678888



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