Norwich student Katie wins �5,000 business prize

An innovative business proposal to allow people to design their own unique screen-printed fabrics has scooped a �5,000 enterprise competition for a Norwich art student.

Katie Whitton won the fourth annual Brainchild competition organised by Norwich University College of the Arts after pitching her business idea to a Dragons' Den-style judging panel.

Customers can draw their own design to be screen-printed to create a one-off fabric, which can then be used to make anything from cushions to aprons, for personalised gifts, or bought by the metre.

Miss Whitton, 19, who lives in the Golden Triangle, will receive �1,000 to develop her business and �4,000 of mentoring from judges, including membership of Norfolk Network, after being named the winner at a ceremony last Wednesday.

The second-year BA textiles student said she had been 'inspired' to enter the competition by skills workshops delivered by business mentors.

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Six shortlisted students were then invited to pitch in full to judges.

'Winning the competition hasn't quite sunk in yet but I am really excited and I am so pleased I applied,' she said.

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'I plan to use the prize money to make new fabrics and to help with the cost of my website and marketing.'

As well as the personalised fabrics, Miss Whitton is developing a range of non-personalised fabrics with famous places, objects or people to be sold as souvenirs or mementoes.

Chairman Bev Hurley, founder of sponsor Norfolk Network, said judges had been impressed with the strength of the entries. She added: 'This year we felt that there were some really good ideas pitched to the panel that all have business potential, but Katie's idea stood out as being ready to take to market.'

NUCA principal Prof John Last said: 'We are extremely grateful for the time and support our sponsors give to the competition and to students in creating business ideas which will have a strong chance of success in the creative industries.'

Have you got an innovative business? Email or call 01603 772423.

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