Circus Skills, Canoes And ‘Fluffy Cabs’ Feature In Business Trade Fair

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 Circus Skills, Canoes And ‘Fluffy Cabs’ Feature In Business Trade Fair

Date posted: 16 September 2008

What do juggling, canoeing, testing railway tracks and adding a feminine touch to motoring have to do with each other?

They are all services offered by the 40-plus new Midlands’ businesses taking part in a trade fair and exhibition, at the University of Derby.

Open For Business will be held at the University’s Kedleston Road site, Derby, on Thursday 2 October between 2pm and 6pm. All the enterprises attending are run by students who’ve benefited from the SPEED(or Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education) bursary scheme.

The two year Government-funded scheme, now drawing to a close, provides students with a business idea with financial and training support to develop it. Derby is one of 12 universities involved in the scheme.

Nathan Pearson, 35, of Heanor, is on the Foundation (FdSc) in Built Environment (Civil Engineering) degree course at the University of Derby. SPEED helped him set up his own specialist business – Pearson’s Engineering Services Ltd – providing rail track inspection and maintenance services to owner of private railway lines.

He said: “We work for owners with their own goods railway yards such as power stations, docks and other private firms; or for small preservation or heritage railway lines open to the public. I’ve worked for large companies such as Direct Rail Services and GB Railfreight.

“SPEED was definitely helpful in helping me set up the business. It’s the fact that there is somebody there to help you.”

Also at the Open For Business exhibition will be University of Derby graduate Donna Fraher, 38, head of female-focused online motoring blog, and car styling and accessory store, Fluffy Cabs.

It provides women drivers with car-related news and advice, a forum for members to exchange information, an online store, and an overall focus on car fashion and how to accessorize your car the ‘fluffy way’. Its motto is: ‘We help make cars smart and funky, not sad and clunky’.

Among the other types of businesses attending will be:

  • Educational circus skills training (run by University of Derby student Reuben Francis, 21, from Colsterworth, Lincolnshire)
  • Canoeing and outdoor activities business Adventure Works Ltd (Derby student Mark Butland, 49, of Bollington, Cheshire)
  • Glow Worm T-Shirts, provider of glow-in-the-dark message T-shirts and tops (University of Keele student Rebecca Mulhearn, 20, and colleagues).

The University of Derby alone had a SPEED support fund of £500,000 over two years and organised more than 76 bursaries from that. On graduating Derby students can also gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Enterprise Management, to further enhance their entrepreneurial skills.

Potential customers and suppliers, academics and dignitaries are expected to visit the October 2 trade fair.

Maggie Morley, of the University of Derby’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Management, based in The Derbyshire Business School, organised the event.

She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for these new businesses to show what they’ve accomplished, and have the chance to make contact with the potential clients and suppliers who will be attending.

“It is also an opportunity for established business people to meet up and coming entrepreneurs, who we trust will have a positive impact on the Midlands’ economy in the future.”

Further queries should be directed to Denise Clark on 01332 591539 or email:

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