City College Norwich students prepare for Eco Business Challenge

College students are preparing to pitch their eco-business plans to industry 'dragons' as the 2012 Eco Business Challenge reaches its climax this week.

Six teams from City College Norwich will have their sustainable business ideas scrutinised by a team of experts on Tuesday at St Andrews House, on St Andrews Street in Norwich.

More than 30 business and engineering students have been working since November to develop new environmentally-friendly ventures, guided by experts in low carbon and renewable technologies.

Their ideas range from micro-electricity generation to domestic drainpipes, and from plant tubs which store rainwater to a master-switch device to track energy use in the home.

The final challenge will see the teams compete head to head as they seek to impress the judges in an event modelled on the Dragons' Den TV show and chaired by Stuart Catchpole, innovation manager at Hethel Engineering Centre.

The panel of 'dragons' comprises UEA carbon management tutor Gideon Middleton; Sheringham Shoal windfarm engineer Kelly Houlker; Yvonne Mason, founder of the Mason Trust; Chris Rowe of LJ Create and Siobhan Eke, director of enterprise at City College.

College principal Dick Palmer said: 'There is huge potential for bright young entrepreneurs with eco business ideas. We can expect many of the most important business innovations in the coming years to be focused on providing solutions to environmental problems or improvements to green technologies.

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'The Eco Business Challenge has given the students a real understanding of what it takes to create an eco business, thanks in large part to the invaluable support of the industry experts and business mentors.'

Rachel Watson, co-ordinator at the Norwich Carbon Reduction Trust said: 'The Eco Business Challenge has been a fantastic partnership between education and business, helping to foster students' understanding of sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship.'

The 2012 Eco Business Challenge is supported by Norwich Carbon Reduction Trust, UEA Business School and Norfolk County Council and sponsored by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, Norse Commercial Services and UK Power Networks.