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A micro brewery; greetings cards that teach new languages and even an educational bus are some of the 26 entrepreneurs vying for up to £5,000 in cash prizes plus business support in Sheffield Hallam University's prestigious Enterprise Challenge competition.

Enterprise Challenge entrants are treated to a unique support system, and are guided through workshops with expert advice from professionals - unlike other business challenges which often only read a business plan and allocate prizes. This stage of the competition is designed to really help these young start-ups develop their business skills giving access to:

- one-to-one advice from specialist business, accountancy, marketing and intellectual property advisors

- facilities like hot-desks, free internet access and telephone calls through the University's business incubator - The Hatchery®

- the chance to be matched with a mentor for support and guidance

- access to funding for activities like market research or developing a prototype

- the opportunity to join Yorkshire Universities' residential entrepreneurs' boot camp

 Sheffield Hallam Enterprise Challenge organiser Sara Pates explains, "This competition is unique in that we create a bespoke programme for each of the entrepreneurs. The finalists will be encouraged to use our facilities to the full. We want them to form limited companies by the end of the competition and we act as a source of advice and support to make that happen".

 Now in its eighth year, previous winners include Emma Killilea, whose range of gluten-free products has won her company, Delicious Alchemy, a string of awards and most recently a contract with Gate Gourmet.

All finalists now have the summer to develop a full business plan to submit to a panel of judges. The final six will then have to pitch their business proposal to secure a winning place. The winners of the Enterprise Challenge will be announced at the Enterprise and Innovation Dinner, held at the University in October.

The final businesses include first year International Business and Spanish student Asia Robinson's idea to produce cards in the UK for people of different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities that would provide greetings in their native language and English. Her market research is returning really positive results, but she is looking forward to the help she's going to get as an Enterprise Challenge finalist. Asia said, "I've never done this before and I need some help! I'm really excited to get to the next stage of the Enterprise Challenge, I'm sure it's going to make a big difference to the business".

The annual business start-up competition, organised by Sheffield Hallam University's Enterprise Centre, also gives entrants the chance to work with a mentor from a successful local company. This year's mentors include: Merlin Software, HR Projects- Children, Schools & Families, Rowlands Management Services Ltd, Retail Distribution- Hbos, Systems Analyst- Northern Rail Ltd, Hart Shaw, Business Adviser- STP, Sunflower Children's Centre, Hallam AVD, Thomsons Solicitors, JD Approach, AH Accountancy, Universal Alloys & Metals Ltd, Barclays Bank, Atteys Solicitors, John Lambert Associates.

Now in its eighth year, the Enterprise Challenge is one of the highlights of the year for the Enterprise Centre. The centre is dedicated to strengthening links with business and industry, and developing a spirit of enterprise in both staff and students. This year the competition has been sponsored by Barclays, Hart Shaw, Inspiral, Omnia Offices, Sheffield Technology Parks, South Yorkshire Investment Fund and UK Steel Enterprise, many of whom are providing not only cash but mentors and in kind support to finalists and winners. 

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