Students present business ideas

Students from Hugh Baird College have been presenting their business ideas to an employer panel in preparation for one of the UK’s largest student enterprise competitions.

The Market Maker competition is run by the Gazelle Colleges Group, encouraging teams of students from the further education sector to develop entrepreneurial and business skills. So, teams from Hugh Baird College’s business courses were tasked with developing an innovative business idea and producing a commercially viable business plan.

After holding College heats in October, the entries were narrowed down to a shortlist of just three teams who then went head to head to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in a ‘Dragons Den’ style heat. For this, the College enlisted the support of representatives from the HR team at one of the UK’s largest health and social care charities, Alternative Futures Group (AFG), to play the ‘dragons’! Alternative Futures Group provides creative and person centred support for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs in their own homes or in one of their Treatment and Recovery Centres. Currently employing more than 2,500 staff, the HR team from AFG were ideally placed to offer feedback and advice on the students’ presentations.

The winning team was ‘Blendaid’, whose business idea was plasters and bandages for all skin colours. Clair Finnegan, HR Co-Ordinator at AFG and one of the panel members said:

“We were so impressed with all of the teams. Their ideas were great and they demonstrated their business acumen in translating them into workable business plans. The panel had a tough job choosing just one winner, but we felt that ‘Blendaid’ just had the edge in terms of their innovative product.”

Blendaid is made up of five students from the BTEC Level 3 Business Diploma course, Gerard Ashe, Ryan Everett, Emma Robinson, Sian Hillman and Sharon Penny.

Gerard said:

“We’ve learned so much through being part of the competition. Our course teaches us about team work, problem solving and business planning but doing Market Maker means we can put all of that into practice. Having the opportunity to pitch our ideas in front of business professionals was amazing too and we were really able to practice our presentation skills.”

Their tutor, Geraldine Nicholson, said:

“Entering Market Maker is great for the students because it gives them an insight into everything that goes into creating a successful business. The competition is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and our students are always enthusiastic about taking part.”

If you would like to find out more about any of the business courses at Hugh Baird College, visit or telephone 0151 353 4444. You can find out more about AFG and the work they do in local communities at

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