RAU Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme

Grand Idea 2017


The RAU Grand Idea 2017 competition is now open to RAU students.  The deadline date for business plans is Wednesday 24th May by 3pm.  Please send completed business plans to enterprise@rau.ac.uk

To be eligible to enter entrants must be either current RAU students.  They must also be actively working on a business concept which they are either intending to launch shortly or have launched in the last 2 years.

 The key dates for the 2017 competition are;

  • Wednesday 24th May by 3pm - business plan deadline
  • Thursday 8th June - The Grand Idea Final; pitching to the judges
  • Thursday 8th June - Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Awards 2017 inc. presentation to 10th Grand Idea competition winner.


The 2017 judges panel will be Chaired by Denys Shortt OBE (Chairman) (DCS Group).

The 2017 judging panel is:

Denys Shortt OBE (Chair)

Denys Shortt is one of the UK's leading entrepreneurs.  In 2004 Denys was ranked as one of Britain’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs.  He was awarded an OBE in 2013 for Services to the Economy.  Denys believes his drive and determination comes from his younger days as an England international hockey player.

In 1994 aged 30 - Denys started his first business, named after his initials DCS.  In just 21 years DCS has grown sales to £186 million and employs 320 people.  The company handles sales and distribution for P&G, Unilever, SC Johnson, Colgate, PZ Cussons and more. Denys created the brand Enliven.co.uk.  In 2000 Denys started Enable.com with Andrew Butt who at the time was 16 years old and became Managing Director.  Enable now employs 40 people with sales of £2.5 million. Enable provides bespoke cloud based software for corporates. Denys has started two more software companies Deal-Track.com and EnableID.com

Denys has won these Awards: EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Exporter of the Year, Growing Business Awards (CBI), Young Director of the Year (IOD), Microsoft Techtrack 100, Virgin Fasttrack 100, Sunday Times TopTrack 250. 

BBC Dragons Den - Denys has twice been asked to appear as a Dragon (Series 1 & 2) but has gracefully declined preferring to mentor entrepreneurs privately.

Christine Cross - Christine Cross Ltd

Chris left Tesco in June, 2003, having carried out a range of roles at Director level.

Latterly, as Group Business Development Director, she was involved in a programme of international acquisitions. Prior to this her primary focus at Tesco was the establishment of a global direct sourcing operation designed specifically to enhance profit through leveraging scale, operational efficiency and supply chain savings. This role evolved from her management of the Tesco's UK clothing business, driving double-digit growth, and subsequent  business expansion to Central Europe and Asia. She was also instrumental in developing the Tesco private label product range and understands the interdependency needed with suppliers in order to be able to deliver consistent quality, value for money and innovation to customers.

Recruitment to Tesco was from a successful career in academia at Bath and Edinburgh Universities. 

Now, in addition to her independent advisory work, she has Non-Executive Directorships with  Coca Cola European Partners plc; Hilton food group plc; Sonae plc (Portugal);  Brambles plc (Australia); Kathmandu plc (New Zealand); Fenwick Ltd (UK) : The Pollen Estate (UK) and acts as Advisor to the Board of a number of private equity and private companies including  Monsoon Accessorize and River Island.  She has also served on the Board of Next plc for 9 years; Woolworths Limited (Australia) for 3 years;  Sobeys (Ca) plc for 9 years; ; Plantasgen (Nor) for 9 years; Fairmont Hotels Group; Premier Foods and Taylor Wimpey. She was also Chief Retail Advisor to PWC for 5 years.

Chris holds a B.Ed and M.Sc in Food Science, and a Diploma in Management.

 Ian Wilkinson - Cotswold Seeds

Ian Wilkinson studied farm and grassland management at Berkshire College of Agriculture and joined Cotswold Seeds 32 years ago, since when he’s developed the business with a fundamental focus on the role of providing a bridge between farmers and the scientific community. A family business based in Moreton-in-Marsh, Cotswold Seeds has built its reputation on developing forage, herbal leys, green manures and complex seed mixtures as well as providing a personal service to its customers, which now number 14,000 farmers and landowners across the UK. It’s always been part of Ian’s vision for the business to have a farm three years ago, Cotswold Seeds acquired Honeydale Farm, 107 acres in the Cotswolds, which is being developed as a Centre for Diversity.

Prof Jo Price - Royal Agricultural University


Professor Price was appointed Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University on 1st September 2016.  Professor Price was previously Head of Bristol University Veterinary School and Head of the School of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, a position she took up in 2009. Prior to this, she was Professor of Veterinary Anatomy at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, and Chair of the College’s Basic Science Department. Former posts were also held at University College London, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Bristol.  Professor Price qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Bristol University in 1983 and spent a number of years in clinical practice in the UK and overseas before entering research and academia

She has been a member of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) since 2009 and chairs their Education and Specialisation Committee. Professor Price is a member of the RCVS Scientific Advisory Board and trustee of RCVS Knowledge, a charity associated with the RCVS.  She is a member of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Framework Group. Professor Price is Governor of Bridgwater College and Brymore Academy. She is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Horses4Homes, a rehoming charity for horses.


Gillian Higgins - Horses Inside Out


Gillian is an equine physical therapist, functional anatomist, biomechanist, BHS Senior Coach, author and anatomical artist. In 2006 Gillian founded Horses Inside Out Ltd., an educational company aiming to show amateurs and professionals within the equine industry how understanding equine anatomy and biomechanics can improve welfare, performance and reduce the risk of injury. Gillian runs a large variety of courses and live painted horse demonstrations across the UK and worldwide. Gillian won the Knowledge West Enterprise Award in 2007 as an alumni of the RAU. Gillian is the author of several books and DVDs many of which have been translated into multiple languages. She also produces anatomical paintings and models for companies and charities. She has since been awarded membership to the Institute of Anatomical Sciences and the Equine Therapy Association of Australia in recognition of her work and contribution to the industry.





Competition Terms and Conditions