Enterprise, Preparing for your future

Have you got Spark?

Iheanyi Ibe, Enterprise Officer, explains Cardiff University’s Spark Competition and how you can get involved…


Spark is the Annual Idea Competition for Cardiff University Students and graduates. With an overall shared prize money of over £5,000 available, Spark will give six Cardiff University students* support to develop their own idea. Spark is part of the business start-up and ideas development support available through Careers & Employability which also includes business workshops and individual support.

The competition is open to ALL Cardiff University students and entries from all sectors and subject areas are welcomed (Including not for profit organisations, creative and social enterprises).

*Cardiff University alumni are eligible to enter the competition in the ventures category for up to five years after graduating and with businesses less than 2 years.


What is involved?

The competition is split into 3 different categories based on the level of development of the idea being entered. The categories are IDEA, PLAN and VENTURE. Winners and/or runner-ups will be selected from appropriate categories. All applications should be made online using an online web application before the deadline date. All applications received will go through a shortlisting process and those shortlisted will then have the opportunity to present their application to a panel of judges.


Special awards

Best Creative Entry:
This year, the competition offers a great opportunity for creative ideas and businesses. A special standalone award will be offered for the Best Creative Entry. We welcome entries from across the creative sectors; from product, graphic and fashion design to PR, marketing and advertising, film, tv, radio, video and photography to crafts. All entries deemed to be, or identified by applicant as, a creative entry will be put to a separate judges vote to identify a winner. Best Creative Entry is sponsored by Creative Cardiff, a city network for those working in the creative economy.


Categories explained

There are 3 categories, or entry levels, to pick from to allow entries at different stages of their development.  These levels are IDEA, PLAN & VENTURE.

The IDEA level is for those with a potential idea that may have commercial potential but have not investigated it in a structured manner as yet. You will be expected to include a video (no longer than 2 minutes) describing the idea along with your application. Submitted videos will be used as part of the judging criteria. Applicants in this category will not be expected to pitch to a panel of judges. The decision for this category will be made using solely the online application and video submission.

The PLAN level is designed for those who may have performed a reasonable level of research or possibly some level of testing for the idea or product. This can also include those that are getting ready to launch. Applicants will be expected to present their idea to a panel of judges if shortlisted. Judging for this category will be done using both the online application (including video no longer than 2 minutes) and presentation to judges.

The VENTURE level is open to those already running businesses, projects, or even freelancing in the last 12 months to 2 years. Applicants will be expected to present their idea to a panel of judges if shortlisted. Judging for this category will be done using both the online application and presentation to judges. No video entry is required.

The choice of entry category is self-selective, but if you would like to discuss which category would suit you before entry, please contact us on enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk.


How is Spark judged?

The applications are judged by an independent panel of judges who will consider the application in terms of the idea, the ambition and drive of the person/team making the application. The judges will consider a number of factors when making their decisions including:

  • the viability and feasibility of the business idea
  • any evidence of a researched target market
  • the drive and ambition of the students involved
  • the creativity and innovativeness of the idea.


How to apply? 

  • Decide on your entry category (IDEA, PLAN or VENTURES)
  • Make your application by completing the appropriate online form. A guide on what is expected is provided with the online forms.
  • Include link to video pitch no longer than 2 minutes (for IDEA & PLAN Categories ONLY).
  • Complete you application by completing all sections the best you can.
  • Submit your completed application as indicated

Application forms

  • IDEA
  • PLAN


Important dates

Open for applications    Monday 21st November 2016

Submission deadline     Sunday 05th March 2017

Shortlisting                        Friday 17th March 2017

Judging and Awards       Wednesday 29th March 2017




Online Application? Yes Yes Yes This will be selected from all entries made into the competition.
Video entry required? Yes Yes No
Shortlisting process? Yes Yes Yes
Judging Offline Pitching Pitching
Winner £500 £1000 £2000 £350
Runner-up place No Yes  – £750 Yes – £1000 Not applicable
Access to ongoing guidance, mentor and support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Access to FREE office space for technology based ideas for 1 year Yes Yes Yes Yes
Opportunity to be shortlisted for Santander Universities Award 2017 No Yes Yes


Your participation is taken as consent for multi media promotion

Spark2017 is sponsored by Santander Universities UK and supported by Creative Cardiff. Please note that Cardiff University and Santander Universities may use multimedia (Pictures, video etc.) from this competition for marketing and promotional uses. Winners will also be required to attend Santander Universities UK events that are relevant to this competition. Your participation will be taken as consent.



Your feedback and help please

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Best wishes,
Iheanyi Ibe, Enterprise Officer,
Cardiff Enterprise and Start-up, Careers and Employability.


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