The University of Chester Completes The Italian Job
17 Apr 2015

Eleven individuals from the University of Chester in the United Kingdom traveled to Milan last month after successfully completing The Italian Job, to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in addition to a varied week-long program. The Congress is an inter-disciplinary gathering of startup champions from more than 150 countries and attracts thousands of delegates each year that represent distinct components of their entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The successor of ‘Mission Moscow’ and ‘Destination Rio’, The Italian Job aimed to nurture and foster the next generation of entrepreneurs at the university. The annual initiative provides students with networking opportunities to meet others outside of their curriculum groups, employers, and those in further education. In addition, the program develops soft skills such as teamwork, communication, time management and problem solving ultimately enhancing employability, entrepreneurial and intra-preneurial skills. Since 2013, Global Entrepreneurship Week and the GEC have provided a framework for the model to continue each year.

In October 2014, budding entrepreneurs from across the university sought to transform an initial investment of £10 into the profits necessary to fund travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan in March 2015 by building a business, with the support of a business mentor.

Over 70 students accepted the challenge; many of whom took part in events hosted by the Riverside Innovation Centre, Chester, during Global Entrepreneurship Week. GEW UK has since recognized the Riverside Innovation Center with a ‘High Impact' certificate.

Over the course of the next three months, teams and individuals devoted their time to developing their business ideas, and executing their business plans, raising sponsorship and engaging in entrepreneurial activity.

In an exciting finale, ‘Funders of Last Resort’ pledged to support students who had not quite reached the finish line. Funders including John Newton-Jones, Snowdonia Cheese; Matt Bullas, Click Consult; Robin Gill, Storrar Cowdry and John Farrell, Ellis & Co. along with Cheshire West & Chester Council, provided a substantial amount of sponsorship, which was subsequently allocated to the individuals who impressed the most. Project partners, Santander and Northenden Diamond Travel, were also in attendance.

Further information on the initiative is available from Claire Blanchard

Below are the biographies of those taking part in the initiative

Claire Blanchard University of Chester, Riverside Innovation Centre, Innovation & Enterprise

Claire Blanchard has worked in academia for over 22 years as a senior academic and has held a variety of roles and positions. Claire started her academic career at the University of Glamorgan in 1993 in the Department of Computing. Claire now works at the University of Chester and is responsible for embedding enterprise across the Curriculum. Claire and her team recently won the NCEE HE Enterprise Champion at the National Enterprise Educators Awards. She is the track chair of the Entrepreneurship stream of the forthcoming Association of Business Schools Teaching and Learning Conference. She also sits on the Board of Young Enterprise.

Kirsty Badrock University of Chester, Riverside Innovation Centre, Innovation & Enterprise

Kirsty’s background is primarily within the public sector specialising in events management and business liaison across the educational spectrum. Kirsty previously worked in the University of Chester’s Careers & Employability department, working on a range of employability development opportunities. Now, Kirsty is based at Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC) helping to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. Working mainly with students and graduates of the University of Chester, she is responsible for the operational management of the University’s business start-up programme, ‘Venture3’, and co-created, and leads on the innovative model for promoting entrepreneurship within the institution which has seen student delegations travel to the GEC in Rio de Janeiro, Moscow & this year, Milan. Kirsty is also responsible for the development of an ‘Enterprise Network’, engaging with partner colleges & schools, to foster & nurture the entrepreneurial mind-set of students across the region. She has formerly sat on the Board of Young Enterprise.

Rebecca Wilcock University of Chester, Burton Manor Atelier

Having graduated from Aberystwyth University in Environmental Earth Sciences, Rebecca made the move back to Chester and completed a Masters in Creative and Cultural Management at the University of Chester. Rebecca’s background events management and the arts gained her the role as Centre Co-ordinator out at Burton Manor Atelier. Rebecca is now based at RIC and at Burton Manor Atelier, managing the creative businesses which range from stained glass to sculpture. Working alongside colleagues Rebecca supports the Enterprise Champions project and co-created the innovative model for student engagement Challenge resulting in a delegation travelling out to Rio in March 2013, Moscow in 201 and Milan in 2015.

Hannah & Beki McGee University of Chester, Half-an-Egg

Half an Egg is the debut luxury sustainable swimwear label founded by Fashion Design graduates, identical twin sisters Hannah and Rebecca McGee. Launching for SS/16, the swimwear is designed and manufactured in England using the finest Italian fabrics - ultra resistant to chlorine, sun creams and UV SPF 50, with specific fabrics made from 100% recycled materials. Hannah and Rebecca were inspired to create something beautiful from discarded swimwear off cuts by up-cycling the fabric using a traditional craft technique passed on by their Grandmother and translated into innovative prints focusing on scale and colour. The prints are used throughout the collection and hand made into sculptural statement elements integrated within the swimwear resulting in a new direction in beachwear, which has become HAE's signature.

Anthony Georgiou University of Chester, NIGHTS

Anthony Georgiou holds A levels in Business, Accounting, English Language and Physics as well as a Diploma in Financial Trading. He is currently in his first year of studying Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Chester University in the UK. His father is an entrepreneur with a focus on marketing. Georgiou is passionate about creativity and technological innovation. He is a member of his local Basketball team and through that he learnt how important teamwork is as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Emma Woollard University of Chester, English with Emma

Woolard is a final year student of French and Spanish at the University of Chester. She has lived and worked in a number of countries including France, Spain, Switzerland and Latin America. She has worked for the World Trade Organization in Geneva, the North West Ambulance Service in the UK and for an international summer camp in Switzerland. For her university's 'Italian Job' project, she set up a small business teaching English to international students at the University. Her future business plans are based on teaching English as a foreign language and international summer language camps.

Huw Liddiard Williams University of Chester

Born in Chester, England, Huw Liddiard Williams is studying Biology at Chester University. However he has always dreamed of setting up his own business and so over the past year Huw has been selling LEGO through eBay. He now wants to take this one step further. With LEGO sets costing as much as €150, Huw plans to run a business renting out Lego sets. His idea is that the customer would pay a monthly subscription and receive LEGO sets straight to their door. In his spare time Huw enjoys walking in the Welsh countryside and traveling abroad.

Edmon Imseeh University of Chester

Edmon Imseeh, 20 years old was born in 24th of April, 1995. He is originally Palestinian and lives in Ramallah, currently studying Business Administration. He finished his diploma in 2013, and will be complete his BA in 2015. Edmon works part-time at a Shell gas station, and volunteers at the University to assist the smooth arrival of new students. Edmon has played the piano since the age of 9, and is an expert on the bagpipes! After graduation, Edmon hopes to start a new fashion brand, with the intention of building a global franchise.

Liam Baldi, Tom Hicks and Amy Tarr University of Chester, Chase & Tailor

Chase & Tailor is a combination of three minds brought together with a passion for design distinctive and British. Chase & Tailor aims to provide minimalistic, individual pieces of fashion that radiate class. Designed and hand printed in the UK, Chase & Tailor strive to bring new, innovative designs and ideas from pen and paper to your wardrobe. The Chase: Fashion is a dynamic entity, constantly moving and changing. The Chase is all about staying ahead of the game and creating a sharp, refined product that fits our expectations, as well as the fashion industry and high streets. The Tailor: British tailoring is famous worldwide. Our goal is to bring that British vintage vibe into your wardrobe without the price tag. Overflowing with ideas for a whole new, independent collection, we aim to move forward.