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Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards : Regional winners: North of England

The Telegraph
The final set of heat winners in the Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards have been announced. Find out more about the winners from north England

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/enterprise-awards/11149648/regional-winners-north-England.html

Best enterprise – Jigsaw Medical services

With the benefit of hindsight, Chris Percival, 22, might have thought twice about acquiring a business while still studying. “I was quite busy at the time,” he admits.

The paramedic, who qualified with distinction, saw an opportunity in 2012 and jumped. “I wasn’t going to settle with a job in the NHS, that’s for sure.” His company Jigsaw Medical Services, based in Cheshire, now operates three divisions, each commercially viable in its own right.

The company that he first acquired provides training in first aid, health and safety, and clinical education; a separate clinical services division provides event medical cover.

Just two months ago, the company founded a medical recruitment division to supply temporary staff for NHS and private hospitals and already has multi million-pound supply contracts.

Mr Percival puts his success down to family support. He learnt his work ethic while he was shredding paper as a schoolboy in his parents’ business and the only investment he has received has come from family coffers.

His 12-strong team now works well, though staffing has thrown up challenges. “We’ve learnt some lessons the hard way – we are a people-focused business so we’re careful who we employ.”

Best Start-up – Pure Pet Food

Air-dried food may be a strange concept to get across to pet owners, Daniel Eha, 25, admits. But it is healthy and his pet meals are made from fresh ingredients you could eat yourself.

Mr Eha, who trained as an accountant, has dedicated the past few years to perfecting healthy recipes for dog food, starting in his kitchen with a small dehydration machine. He and his business partner grew up by a small farm in Yorkshire, surrounded by dogs, though he is now too busy putting in long days to have pets of his own.

Mr Eha began his business 18 months ago, tapping into a trend for dog owners to feed pets raw food rather than often low-quality dried biscuits.

His food, which is nutritious and additive-free, spares the inconvenience of storing or handling raw meat. “Our meals are literally fresh meat, veg and fruit so it’s not surprising dogs do so well on it.”

Revenues have risen 1,000 per cent this year, and he is delighted to receive mentoring as part of the Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards. The prize money will be put to continuing plans to expand.

Best DIgItal – Centurus

A spell working in Delhi convinced business graduate Dawood Fard, 26, that international students, a key source of funds for UK institutions, were having to face chaotic bureaucracy.

UK universities and colleges, and international agencies that deliver student applications, seemed to use their own incompatible systems. Mr Fard returned to Britain, shut himself “in a darkened room for four months” and hammered out a design for a system that colleges, universities and agents could adopt to streamline and simplify their applications.

Then software developers took a year to create the technology, which Mr Fard launched three-and-a-half years ago: about 160 UK universities and language colleges, and 920 international agencies, have adopted his system, which has handled 30,000 student applications so far.

He found funding hard to get initially but obtained a grant from Lancashire County Council and was supported by the University of Lancaster’s entrepreneurial incubator. He wants to expand into Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Canada. “This award gives us credibility and visibility.”

The Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards

Prizes range from £1,000 to £5,000 for Best Start-up and Best Enterprise – along with a new prize for 2014, Best Digital. These businesses will attend next month’s final with the other heat winners, when Britain’s best companies will compete for prizes reaching £50,000 as well as one-to-one mentoring.

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