Spark Ideas Challenge

The Idea Competition for Cardiff University Students


Spark is the annual Ideas Competition for Cardiff University Students and graduates. With overall prize money of £10,000 available, Spark will give seven Cardiff University students* a range of support to develop their ideas. Spark is part of the business start-up and ideas development support available through Cardiff University Enterprise 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).

*Cardiff University alumni are eligible to enter the competition in the ventures category for up to five years after graduating.


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 VENTURES. A winner and runner up will be selected from each category. All entrants are expected to make their submissions using the forms provided before the deadline date. All received applications will go through a shortlisting process and those shortlisted will then have the opportunity to present their applications to a panel of judges.


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

  • The IDEAS level is for those with a potential idea that may have commercial potential but not investigated it in a structured manner as yet. You will be expected to include a 2 minute video describing the idea along with your application. Submitted videos will be judged separately for the chance to win an additional £250.
  • 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.

Your level of entry is self-selective, but if you would like to discuss which category would suit you before entry, please contacts us on


The applications are judged by an independent panel of judges who will consider the application in terms of both the business idea and the ambition and drive of the person 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.



1st Prize:     £1000 1st Prize:    £2000 1st Prize:    £3000
2nd Prize:    £750 2nd Prize:   £1000 2nd Prize:   £2000
Access to ongoing guidance and support Access to ongoing guidance and support Access to ongoing guidance and support
Access to developmental funds Access to developmental funds Access to developmental funds
Access to a business mentor for a year Access to a business mentor for a year Access to a business mentor for a year
Access to FREE office space for technology based ideas Access to FREE office space for technology based ideas Access to FREE office space for technology based ideas
An additional £250 will be awarded to then entry with the best video pitch. £500 worth of marketing services from an external sponsor
Opportunity to be shortlisted for Santander Universities Award worth a share of over £40’000.

*Note criteria, T&C may apply


The top prize of £1000 in the Ideas category went to Ashley Davies, an undergraduate from Cardiff Business School for ‘It’s A Box’, a personalised gift box for new university students.

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Adam Dixon, an undergraduate from Cardiff School of Engineering, scooped the winning prize of £2000 in the Plan category with his Computer Aided Design (CAD) idea.

06.05.14 mh Enterprise Awards 50

Allie Lawson, Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies student, and her partner Jack Williams were awarded the first prize of £3000 in the Venture category for their independent fashion label Elsie & Arthur.

06.05.14 mh Enterprise Awards 34

James McLeod, Geology undergraduate, was awarded the runner up place in the Ideas category and also received £750 while Tom Devonald from Cardiff School of Medicine received £250 for the best video pitch as voted for by judges. The runner up place for the Plan category and receiving £1000 went to Economics & Spanish student Christopher Haydon for European Living Ltd (a service providing support to Erasmus students looking to find safe and appropriate accommodation around Europe). With prize money of £2000, second place for the Venture category went to Trisha Chowdhury for her online global news platform Global Panorama

Iheanyi Ibe, University Enterprise Support Officer who organises the annual award event said:This year proved, once again, the enthusiasm and talent for innovative ideas amongst our students. The level of entry has improved and the competition continues to be a platform for our students to launch small businesses and develop latent ideas. The competition owes a lot of its success to the students who get involved, supportive schools and academics and our sponsors including who sponsored the Venture Category of this year’s competition.”

The judges had a difficult task in deciding the winners and also had very positive things to say about the ideas. “In particular, the judge’s praised the enthusiasm and confidence of the participants in presenting their ideas and the courage in taking the next step.”

Find out more about the finalists and their businesses in our Spark Ideas Challenge Case Studies


More information on how to enter this years Spark challenge will be available during Autumn semester 2014/15.


Ventures Stage Category 2014 supported by