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Oxford Brookes to host own version of Dragons' Den
OXFORD Brookes University is to host its own version of hit television show Dragon’s Den, featuring the likes of Olympic rowing hero Katherine Grainger.
With funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the university has been encouraging staff, students and recent graduates to start schemes which benefit the community.
Already 23 ‘Try It’ awards of up to £500 have been handed out to social entrepreneurship schemes.
Today, seven people will pitch their proposals to a panel of social entrepreneurs and experts, including 2012 gold medallist Katherine, to bid for either up to £5,000 ‘Do It’ or up to £15,000 ‘Build It’ awards.
Programme co-ordinator Jeff Willmore said: “We have had three times as much interest as we guessed there would be. We are hopeful that we are going to be able to continue with this and perhaps develop it further.”
The Try It awards are aimed at new ideas, giving people a chance for example to buy a piece of equipment or to research their proposals.
Do It awards are for new ventures which need kickstart funding to get off the ground, while the Build It awards are aimed at schemes which have been up and running for a year and need investment – for example to allow staff to be employed or for the proposer to commit to running the scheme full-time.
There were 27 applications for Try It awards, with a total of £7,000 granted, while 20 bids for the higher value awards were whittled down to the seven which will be pitched today. In all, there is £30,000 up for grabs, with £25,000 from HEFCE and £5,000 from the university.
Proposals being considered tonight include Zumba Bump, a maternity version of the popular fitness craze, a dyslexia project and a scheme to encourage children with severe disabilities to get involved in exercise.
Try It money has already been granted to a proposal to use surplus hotel rooms for people coming back from active service in Afghanistan to reunite with their families, and to an online guide to encourage students to grow vegetables.
Osteopathy student Ben Wilkins, 25, from Headington, received £500. He said: “It should be possible for people to grow vegetables anywhere. Even with just a windowsill box in a student flat, you can still grow a fair amount.”
Former music teacher Peter Dale, 42, from Kidlington, who is doing a fellowship in popular music, will take DJ decks into schools to give children from deprived families a chance to express themselves.
MEET THE DRAGONS
- Katherine Grainger, pictured, a 2012 Olympic gold rowing medallist, three times Olympic silver medallist and six-time World Champion.
- She won silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the quadruple sculls, silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the coxless pair, silver in the quadruple sculls at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and gold at the double sculls at London 2012. She will bring her expertise on personal resilience to the table.
- Chris Yapp, an Oxford-based IT expert and patron of National Association of Able Children in Education, NACE. He is a former trustee of the School for Social Entrepreneurs.
- Gavin Bate, a high altitude climber who uses his trips to fundraise for and promote a charity network he founded called Moving Mountains which operates in Kenya, Nepal and Borneo.
- Wendy Stone, social entrepreneur and consultant.
- Andy Clamphorn, managing director of Firecactus, a company which deals in innovation, branding and design.