Emily Brooke won £10,000 prize in a student business competition – for a light that helps cyclists improve blind spots for motorists.
About a year ago, Brooke and her three colleagues were looking for £25,000 in funding from their Kickstarter campaign. And, by the time the campaign closed just before Christmas, they had secured £55,000 from 782 backers.
Brooke indicated that she was motivated to the developing the light after discovering some research that found that – 79% of bicycle fatalities in the UK – related to motor vehicles – happen when a motorisst were turning across the path of riders who were not yet invisible.
The concept of projecting the bicycle symbol onto the road ahead of the rider, is what Brooke felt was needed to alert motorists.
At the time, she said: "In my final year at Brighton I gave myself the theme of urban cycling. It was a question of cycling around Brighton and thinking about what would help. That chap over there can’t see me, but if I was four yards ahead he could see me, so I’ll project a presence four yards ahead. I was working on it all through my final year."
Brooke presented her concept before a panel of judges at the British Library in London’s St Pancras, where she was up against six other finalists, that was organized by the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), and emerged triumphant.
Afterwards, Emily said: “Winning the NACUE Varsity Pitch – and against such fierce competition – is an incredible feeling. We are thrilled, as this means that we can fund research into driver perception, including retina tracking and reaction times.
“Winning has made all of this a reality, and will give us some hard data to help us take our Blaze Laserlight – and cycling safety – forward.”
Hushpreet Dhaliwal, chief executive of NACUE, commented: “Getting to the final of Varsity Pitch is itself a fantastic achievement. We had more applications than ever this year and all of the pitches came brimming with innovative and unique ideas. To speak in front of hundreds of people and to show the passion and drive that the finalists have is simply exceptional.
“To become the best student business in the country, and winner of the £10,000, they have demonstrated a creative and vibrant nature we find in all the UK’s young entrepreneurs. Their business idea and overall attitude is truly inspirational and I am sure that the money will go a long way towards making Blaze a success.”
“The judges were particularly impressed with Blaze revolutionary approach to cycle safety, the proven support for their idea and their clear plans to make their business successful.”
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