Enterprise, Preparing for your future

Why students should consider Spark2016 Idea Challenge

Enterprise Officer, Iheanyi, explains what the Spark2016 Idea Challenge is, how it can improve your employability, and why you should apply…


Spark is the Annual Idea Competition for Cardiff University students and graduates. With an overall shared prize money of £7,000 available, Spark gives three or more Cardiff University students and alumni 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 and social enterprises).  This competition has always been popular with students and received great reviews, including:

“So chuffed to have taken part and won, it means a lot and will be a massive help with progressing the business. I’m looking forward to continue working with you” – Elinor

“I am really looking forward to putting my prize to good use. It was a rewarding experience and would really like to gain as much of the support that is available to me over the coming months” – Ben

“We had a difficult task in deciding the winners. We were positively surprised at the quality of the applications and the confidence of the participants in presenting their ideas and the courage in taking the next step” – Panel judge

Here’s more about Spark 2016 and what it could do for you.

Why get involved

There has never been a better time to enter an idea or business plan competition. There are a host of reasons why I feel students should get involved with competitions like this with one notable omission – no mention of the ‘cash prize’. While the financial inducement for any competition is undoubtedly an attractive element for cash-pressed entrepreneurs, it is of secondary importance when you consider the other real benefits resulting from participating in a competition.

Here are my top 5 benefits for students and graduates taking part:

1. Tap into increased support for entrepreneurs

  • In an increasingly competitive global economy, creativity, innovation, and a willingness to take calculated risks are becoming the much coveted skills for the up and coming generation of school leavers.

2. Obtain critical independent review of your idea

  • Some entrepreneurs make the basic mistake of being excessively cautious and concerned that their idea will be ‘stolen’ by someone else. They fail to realize that it is the execution, as much as the idea that distinguishes success from failure.
  • The insight that can be provided by judges of business plan competitions is usually of great value.

3. Gain access to mentors and networking opportunities

  • Business plan competitions are increasingly run with supportive classes and guest lectures by a range of relevant professionals, from IP lawyers to business planning business experts.

4. Improve key transferable skills

  • There is also ample opportunity for participants to practise that notoriously neglected skill of public speaking. The requirement for participants to present their ideas verbally alongside the written report ensures that this skill is exercised accordingly.

5. Enhance your understanding of commercial awareness

  • It offers a fantastic opportunity to improve your understanding of how commercial firms work and the factors that affect them. This is particularly more so if you come from a non-business background or study a degree that seems irrelevant at first glance from a business point of view.

How do you fit in?

Spark is split into three categories: Idea, Plan and Venture allowing students with ideas at different stage of development to take part.

  • The IDEAS level is for those with a potential idea that may have commercial potential but have not investigated it in a structured manner as yet.
  • 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.
  • The VENTURES level is open to those already running businesses, projects, or even freelancing in the last 12 months to 2 years.

How to get involved

Getting involved with Spark2016 is easy and simple to enter. All applications are done using an online App. Simply;

  • Register online
  • Select and entry category
  • Complete 6 simple sections
  • Submit

The online app provides an opportunity to upload documents and a short video allowing you to clearly explain your idea and save you the stress of writing numerous pages of document.

Important dates

Submission deadline    Thursday 31st March 2016
Shortlisting                       Monday 11th April 2016
Judging and Awards      Thursday 28th & Friday 29th April 2016

(Photo by Matthew Horwood)

(Photo by Matthew Horwood)

For more information about the Spark2016 idea challenge and Cardiff University Enterprise, visit our page, and keep up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also get in touch via email using Enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk

I look forward to seeing more innovative and fantastic ideas. Get those applications coming in.

Best wishes
Iheanyi Ibe, Enterprise Officer
Cardiff University Enterprise, Careers and Employability


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