Greater success is in sight for graduates chosen as winners of the 2021 Enterprise Challenge after they impressed an expert panel of judges with their visionary idea to transform the eyewear industry.

Juan Rosalina Tejoprayitno and Daniel Barnes were selected from more than 70 entries and 10 finalists for the coveted title, in the University initiative run by The Graham Shapiro Foundation and powered by ARCET Global.

Enterprise Challenge 2021 winners, Lina Tejoprayitno and Daniel Barnes, at their Trafford Centre Pop Specs kiosk.
Enterprise Challenge 2021 winners, Lina Tejoprayitno and Daniel Barnes, at their Trafford Centre Pop Specs kiosk.

Juan Rosalina, known as Lina, and Daniel have won £1,000 plus a mentorship programme from the Foundation to further develop Pop Specs, their business which aims to change the way people buy prescription glasses.

The pair met while studying for their Master’s in Business Administration at the University’s Business School and quickly became best friends. During the first lockdown of 2020 they set upon the idea to create trendy, affordable, and instantly ready specs. Dan’s expertise in optics and Lina’s ability to get the job done helped them to make Pop Specs a reality; a dream come true.

Using high-tech, cutting-edge machinery, customers can visit a kiosk, and benefit from a fitting service and styling advice. They only need to wait 20 minutes to get their new single vision glasses – including the frame, lens and anti-glare coating, for just £25 to £45. The fashionable frames along with the affordable price range and speed are making Pop Specs stand out from online competitors and other glasses stores.

They currently have a kiosk at the Trafford Centre in Manchester and plan to open in more prime locations.

Lina, who was born and raised in Indonesia and studied her undergraduate degree in Chicago, said: “Thank you to Graham Shapiro, the Foundation, ARCET Global, the University of Chester Business School and all the judges for this award.

“It means so much to us and will help us to expand the business and help others we work with and offer a service to.”

Daniel, from Chester, said: “We believe our idea will revolutionise the eyewear industry and this award chosen by inspiring business leaders gives us greater confidence and incentive.

“Being a start-up venture, it inspires us to push harder and further. Thank you for all the work in offering this opportunity.”

Graham Shapiro, driving force for the Challenge and Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Chester Business School, said: “Congratulations to Lina and Daniel. The competition was intense and very competitive; the level of initiative and enterprise has been incredible – but they are very deserving winners with their new take on how people visit eyewear retailers and purchase their glasses.

“On behalf of The Graham Shapiro Foundation, I would like to thank all participants for taking part in the Enterprise Challenge 2021.

“The aim of these awards is to encourage entrepreneurial endeavour, reward initiative and recognise that good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, at any time – and the competition has highlighted some remarkable examples.

“I also want to thank our expert judges: Alissa Koopal, Cody Gapare, Joel Blake OBE, John Mohin OBE, Martin Nolan and Rob McKay; my Trustee Mark Hamill and his company ARCET Global for the incredible online awards platform and virtual ceremony, Associate Prof Connie Hancock, Dr Henry Sidsaph and the marketing team at the University of Chester.”

Mark Hamill, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ARCET Global said: “ARCET Global is proud to be able to support such a fantastic initiative. As young entrepreneurs ourselves, we know just how important these opportunities are. Kudos to The Graham Shapiro Foundation and University of Chester for bringing this to life.

“Well done to all the finalists, to make it that far is a huge achievement in itself, and a huge congratulations to Daniel and Lina, we wish you and Pop Specs all the best in the future.”  

Dr Connie Hancock, Associate Professor and Head of Department for Management at Chester Business School added: “Lina and Daniel are extremely worthy winners – and this award recognises their innovation and drive. We are extremely proud of all they have achieved – and are set to further achieve.

“We are privileged to be able to support students and graduates with this Enterprise Challenge made possible by Graham Shapiro, the Foundation, ARCET Global and our amazing judges.”

The Graham Shapiro Foundation is a charity that supports mental health, well-being, innovation and young entrepreneurialism in the UK and ARCET Global is a leading provider of professional services.

To watch a video of the virtual awards ceremony, which was initially live streamed on Wednesday July 14, videos from all the finalists, and for further information about the Enterprise Challenge, please visit:

More about Pop Specs is available at, and

Full details on the judging panel:

John M Mohin OBE D.Univ, Chairman of Graham Shapiro Design; Alissa Koopal, Chief Executive Officer at Pennine Events Ltd; Rob McKay, Managing Director of Sherrington Associates; Martin Nolan, Business and Leadership Coach; Cody Gapare, Founder of multi award-winning C-Lash as seen by Eylure, and Joel Blake OBE, Business Leader, Entrepreneur and Public Speaker.

Stand-out work from ones to watch in the art and design world has been celebrated with milestone-marking University of Chester degree awards.

Judges were given extremely difficult decisions to make in selecting winners in this year’s University Art and Design Shows awards, with a breadth of awe-inspiring work to choose from.

But after careful consideration, winners have been chosen from the Un-locked Show of work from third years, which represents the culmination of students’ degree studies, and End of Year Shows exhibiting the work of first and second year students.

The Shows, taking place online this year, place the work of students from seven undergraduate programmes in the spotlight – these are: Fashion Design; Fashion Marketing and Communication; Fine Art; Graphic Design; Interior Design; Photography; and Product Design.

The overall winner of the Un-locked Show, chosen by the Vice-Chancellor, was Interior Design student Jamie Johnson Gore.

Jamie designed a multi-dining space to provide a meeting point to connect the canal network and offer a place to relax, socialise and engage with the city of Chester, contrasting against the isolation of life living on a canal boat.

Jamie, from the Wirral, said: “After making a significant career change and feeling apprehensive about starting university, I feel that winning the University of Chester Vice-Chancellor Choice Award and seeing my work as part of such a successful exhibition has given me a great sense of pride for what I have achieved over the last three years.

“Working hard to gain new skills and experiences has given me the confidence to believe in my own ability and enabled me to pursue a career within the Interior Design industry immediately after completion of my degree.”

Rose Meredith, who was awarded the Evoke Creative prize for Product Design students, for her outstanding final degree project and overall excellence throughout her three-year course, also described her joy at being chosen.

Rose created a set for designers to use to encourage a better relationship between play spaces and natural surroundings, as well as risk and safety, considering play values, and parental involvement.

Rose, from Prestatyn in North Wales said: “It’s a privilege to have such supportive connections such as Neil Clark from Evoke Creative; I was extremely grateful for their endorsement and generous prize.

Product Design student Rose Meredith and Evoke Creative CEO, Neil Clark
Product Design student Rose Meredith and Evoke Creative CEO, Neil Clark

“Receiving my results was a huge relief after the completion of my degree work and I’m excited for the future for both myself and all my peers.”

Rose, who will be studying for a Product Design Master’s in Manchester from later this year, added: “All the work presented at the exhibition was inspiring to see, I feel proud to be a part of the University of Chester.”

More than 30 awards and commendations were decided in total for graduating students, level five (second year) and level four (first year) students. All winners receive certificates while the level four, five and the Un-locked overall winner, in addition, receive Amazon vouchers while Rose was also presented with a VR headset by Evoke.

Associate Professor Bernadine Murray, Head of Department for Art and Design said: “The judges were highly impressed with the outstanding ideas, the quality of the finish, the professionalism, the range of approaches and skills on show. Our students have excelled themselves and not made the selection of winners an easy task.

“Congratulations to all who have been named in these awards – it’s wonderful to hear the students’ happiness and honour in winning, and the confidence it has given them for their next steps.

“We’ve held an online ceremony but look forward to an event, to celebrate in person, when we are able to – as well as seeing what our students achieve next. They’ve already made an impact and are set for further great things in the art and design world.”

To see the Shows, log onto the Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC) Gallery website at and tour through a 3D version of the city centre gallery on the Artsteps platform. Alternatively, flick through a slideshow of all the work directly on the website.

For more from the Art and Design department at the University of Chester, please visit their social media accounts at:


Product Design can be followed at:,

Fashion Design at: and Fashion Marketing and Communication at:

The CASC Gallery is also on social media at: and

In addition, Art and Design publications from students and staff can be viewed on Issuu:


The award-winners

Graduating students:

  • Vice-Chancellor’s Choice and overall winner – Jamie Johnson Gore (Interior Design);
  • The People’s Choice, voted for by the general public – Annie Maskell (Graphic Design);
  • Evoke Creative prize for Product Design – Rose Meredith;
  • Helen MacDougall – University Prize for Fine Art;
  • Jade Gore (Fine Art) – The Alex Roberts Prize – acknowledging the art and creation of their work using traditional methods and techniques;
  • Jagroop Bains – The Storrar Cowdry Solicitors Prize for Fine Art;
  • Emelia Brooks – University Prize for Graphic Design;
  • Sarah Sadler – University Prize for Photography;
  • Highly commended – Caitlyn Jones (Photography); Hannah McGuckin (Fashion Marketing and Communication); Jade Williams (Fashion Design); Dean Lockett (Fine Art); Danielle Maw (Product Design); Chloe Craig (Graphic Design);
  • Commended – Aimee Arrowsmith (Photography); Helen MacDougall; Chloe Longley and Sandra Lagzda (all Fine Art).
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost’s Choice:
  • Highly commended – Susan Grundy (Fashion Design); Naomi Lehepuu (Fashion Marketing and Communication); Theerapong Saobuppha (Fine Art); Melissa Dasher (Graphic Design and Photography for Graphic Design work); Jamie Johnson Gore (Interior Design) and Oliver Rowan (Product Design);
  • Commended – Ellie Lyon (Fashion Marketing and Communication); Niamh Dickinson (Fine Art with Photography, for Fine Art work); Orlaith Keating (Fine Art); Muthuthanthrige Fernando (Graphic Design) and Rita De Oliveira Cruz (Graphic Design);
  • Overall winner – Carla Saunders (Graphic Design and Photography for Photography work).

Level five (second year):

  • Vice-Chancellor’s Choice – Nia Robinson (Fine Art); Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Choice – Heleena Houston (Fashion Marketing and Communication).

Level four (first year):

  • Executive Dean for Arts and Humanities’ Choice – Josh Shaw (Photography).

Students are helping to forge a more ethical future for the fashion industry after working with a global manufacturer of eco-friendly faux fur and a leading animal charity to create statement garments.

Final year undergraduate Fashion Design students have embraced the opportunity to be part of the KOBA School project run by faux fur producer Ecopel and PETA UK (the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Ecopel supplied 25 metres of sustainable and vegan faux fur for five students to feature as part of their designs. The clothes are currently being showcased in their final degree show collections.

All the materials used are from Ecopel’s disused stocks, promoting the concept of up-cycling, and a selection of KOBA® bio-based fur made using the Sorona® technology.

Delphine Wilson, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Design, said: “The students’ enthusiasm and creativity has shone during this project. They have really enjoyed being part of the KOBA School – and have created stunning pieces from the faux fur.

“It has been a welcome highlight, especially in these times of a pandemic – and helps to spread among the new generation of designers the message that animal-free and sustainable materials are fundamental in fashion.

“We’re extremely grateful for the great opportunity to work with the feel-good materials, provoke discussions about animal use in fashion, and inspire change for a greener and more responsible textile industry.”

Student Georgia-Lea Clutton Baxter said: “It’s been really exciting to work with Ecopel faux fur on my final collection, as part of the KOBA School.

Student Georgia-Lea Clutton Baxter working on her design
Student Georgia-Lea Clutton Baxter working on her design.

“I am in love with the variety of faux furs Ecopel sent – the quality is amazingly soft and I was thrilled they had a pink option. My collection is about dyslexia and seeing the positivity within it, particularly for children, so I wanted to use bright colours and this fur’s been perfect for my designs.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity and here in Fashion Design at the University of Chester, we believe that animal-free and sustainable materials are the future.”

Arnaud Brunois, from Ecopel, said: “We are particularly happy to help the new generation of designers. The creations made by the students are beautiful and demonstrate the fact that faux fur is a great versatile and progressive material that combines positive values such as creativity, sustainability and respect for animals.”

Elisa Allen, PETA Director, added: “The future of fashion lies in humane, eco-friendly materials, not animals’ fur and skins. We’re excited to help bring Ecopel’s innovative textiles to the University of Chester for a collaboration that showcases the many dazzling possibilities of vegan fashion.”

Ecopel has developed high end faux fur for more than 300 top fashion brands. For more information on Ecopel, KOBA® bio-based fur and the Sorona® technology please visit:

For further details on PETA UK, please go to:

To see the students’ collections, take a look at which is part of the Un-locked online exhibition of work by graduating Art and Design students.

A video of students talking about being part of the KOBA School project can also be viewed at: while designs and more about the initiative can be found at: and

University student volunteers are supporting Chester Cathedral colleagues to ensure historic books are conserved for future generations – and the public is invited to watch the work in action.

History and Archaeology students will carry out the work at the Cathedral, as part of a free Chester Heritage Festival week-long event this month.

Experts Naomi Watts-Kitto and Emily Lanigan, from the Cathedral’s Works Department, will train 16 student volunteers to assess the state of books in the Cathedral library, collected by Bishop of Chester, William Jacobson in the 19th-century.

Emily Lanigan
Emily Lanigan (pictured) and Naomi Watts-Kitto from Chester Cathedral will lead History and Archaeology student volunteers in the conservation work.

They will prioritise them for conservation, and complete aspects of the conservation such as cleaning and binding. The work will be open to the public to view in the Cathedral nave, where the students will be happy to discuss their work.

Dr Thomas Pickles, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Chester, said: “This is a great opportunity for Chester students to learn new heritage skills for their future careers, to contribute to the upkeep of the Cathedral’s wonderful book collection, and to raise awareness of the Cathedral as a public place for the people of Chester.”

People can drop in to the Cathedral at St Werburgh Street and see the work on the collection, from Friday June 18 to Friday June 25. The event is open daily (except Sunday) between 10am and 4pm, with COVID safety measures in place. Entry is free, however donations are welcome.

Chester Heritage Festival aims to bring the city’s history to life and to tell the stories that have accumulated over two millennia. The annual event is a partnership led by Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Civic Trust, Marketing Cheshire, Chester Cathedral and others, with a host of live and online events organised up until June 28.

For further information on the Festival and the book conservation event please visit:

Students enjoyed the opportunity to experience trailblazing innovations in performance created by an award-winning choreographer, director and University honorary graduate with one of the world’s most familiar names in technology.

The Wayne McGregor company photographed by Andrej Uspenski
The Wayne McGregor company photographed by Andrej Uspenski

Dance and Performing Arts degree students enjoyed an “amazing” and “exciting” state-of-the-art workshop with Studio Wayne McGregor in May.

The workshop was live-streamed to the University studios at the Creative Campus Kingsway where students learned repertory from the company’s newest work, Living Archive, and explored the Artificial Intelligence choreographic tools developed by Wayne with Google.

Google Arts & Culture Lab collaborated with Wayne to turn his archive into the creative tool, Living Archive, using machine learning to map almost half a million moments of movement from his 25-year archive, and organise them by visual similarity.

Now, anyone, anywhere, can take inspiration from Wayne’s body of work, choose a selection of poses and connect them together to create their own piece of choreography.

Wayne is a multi-award winning British choreographer and director, internationally renowned for curating innovations in performance and the modern dance era by incorporating dance, scientific disciplines and technological interventions.

His work and repertoire spans across the world and has been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Bayerisches Staatsballett Munich, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and many more.

In 2019 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Chester and he has been taught by Dr Evelyn Jamieson, Head of MA Dance and Drama at the University.

Wayne’s work has earned him a multitude of awards including four Critics’ Circle Awards, two Time Out Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, two Olivier Awards, a prix Benois de la Danse and two Golden Mask awards. In 2011 Wayne was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance and in 2021 was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Prix de Lausanne.

Here students describe what it was like to work with Studio Wayne McGregor and Living Archive:

“The Wayne McGregor workshop was a very useful and entertaining way to expand our dance fluency as students. Personally, I really enjoyed being taught by a company member who specifically works with contemporary practice, which is the style we are learning at the University.

“It was fun to challenge ourselves and learn a choreography that was created by an online tool instead of a human being. In my judgement, this helped us put into our bodies movements that we would hardly ever think of. The whole workshop was very exciting and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to get to know the Wayne McGregor company a lot better through this workshop.”

First year BA Dance student Danai Charalampidou

“I loved the workshop with studio Wayne McGregor. I found it challenging but so much fun. It gave me ideas of different methods to use when starting to create my own choreography.”

First year BA Dance student Liv Leah

“It was extremely interesting, having researched the Artificial Intelligence tool through my own studies, to then interact and create from it, and connect all of the theoretical side to the practical elements – which was very valuable to myself as a research dance artist.

“Experiencing the work and creations of Wayne was an amazing opportunity that I feel very grateful to have been a part of. It has sparked many enquiries within my research and I want to thank the Wayne McGregor company for that and the University for providing us with this opportunity.”

MA Dance student Eli Williams

“It was such a treat to get to experience the company’s creative process, especially working with the Artificial Intelligence tool. Following the shapes on the screen and trying to interpret the structures into movement phrases was really challenging and also pushed me creatively. I felt pushed in the workshop both physically and mentally.”

BA Performing Arts and MA Dance graduate and Learning Facilitator Connor Elliman

“The Studio Wayne McGregor workshop was really great. I liked it very much because we were able to get a feel of what a company class at Studio Wayne McGregor would be like. I also liked the addition of learning repertoire from Living Archive.”

First year BA Dance student Nicole Froneman Gerber

“I really enjoyed the workshop – it was interesting to work with a new way of being creative and forming my own material. Learning some of the company’s repertory was also good as it helped me to see new ways that I could move in.”

First year BA Dance student Rachel Ambler

The creative skills, hard work and accomplishments of Art and Design students are being celebrated with awe-inspiring online exhibitions.

A virtual event on Thursday June 3 will open the Un-locked show which represents the culmination of students’ degree studies, demonstrates the uniqueness of each student, and offers an insight into their visual, professional future.

In the spotlight will be work by 2021 graduating students from seven undergraduate programmes: Fashion Design; Fashion Marketing and Communication; Fine Art; Graphic Design; Interior Design; Photography and Product Design.

People can join the opening by going to the Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC) Gallery website – from 6pm on June 3 – and are urged to also take a look on the website at the End of Year Shows exhibiting the work of first and second year students from the same programmes, which are online now.

Associate Professor Bernadine Murray, Head of Department for Art and Design said: “Within these exhibitions you will find many things that will unlock your emotions, will make you smile or reflect, will stimulate you, will generate questions and will impact upon you beyond these exhibitions. That is the power of creativity, the potential of these creative individuals – our first and second years and the graduates of 2021 – to change people who experience their work and to change the world.”  

She added that she was extremely proud of the students who had not let the pandemic curb their creativity.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all our lives in many ways but as we have been in and out of lockdown, our students have continued to pursue their dreams; they did not give up, they did not stop exploring, experimenting, discovering, creating and innovating. These students are inspirational, and in turn will inspire.

“Your amazement will not be for how well these students have done under the circumstances. It will be surprise and admiration at the breadth of ideas, the quality of the finish, the professionalism, the range of approaches and skills on show that have eclipsed the adversity faced.” 

Graduating BA Hons Photography student Ffion Thornton said: “It has been an interesting year, filled with many challenges mainly caused by the countless restrictions in regards to the pandemic. These challenges have forced us out of our comfort zones, allowing us to question the way in which we work.

“Although it’s not the final degree show in a real gallery we had all envisioned, the University has made it possible for us to still show our work in a virtual exhibition.

“It will definitely be something to remember, showing how adaptable we have had to be throughout our final year and celebrating everyone’s hard work and achievements.”

Ffion’s third year final project entitled ‘Digitized Dysmorphia’ is made up of all female portraits and focuses on the damaging effects the media has in relation to body image.

A piece from Photography student Ffion Thornton’s third year final project entitled ‘Digitized Dysmorphia’ which features in the Un-locked exhibition.
A piece from Photography student Ffion Thornton’s third year final project entitled ‘Digitized Dysmorphia’ which features in the Un-locked exhibition.

To join the Un-locked opening event at 6pm on June 3, log onto the CASC Gallery website at and tour through a 3D version of the city centre gallery on the Artsteps platform, or create an avatar and wander around the Second Life CASC Gallery, set on a paradise island. Alternatively, flick through a slideshow of all the work directly on the website.

For updates and a sneak preview of work, please visit the Department of Art and Design’s social media accounts at:


For more on the CASC Gallery see: and

In January 2021 the University of Chester Student Race Advocates group was officially formed.

This followed the establishment of the University’s Race Equality Challenge Group in June 2020. This Group was formed in order to promote and coordinate positive change in relation to race equality and diversity at the institution.

The Student Race Advocates are all University of Chester students and are responsible for actively supporting and promoting the needs of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students through contributions to numerous aspects of the University’s work.

There are currently nine Student Race Advocates in position.

Student Race Advocates
Student Race Advocates.

Pictured above (from top-right anticlockwise), they are:

Fatimata Ali: MSc International Business
Ivan Bernardo: BSc Biomedical Science
Barni Ali:  BSc International Relations with Chinese
Tamirah Bass-Grant: BSc Psychology and Sociology
Taofikat Fadiran: MBA
Bilal Kazi: BEng Chemical Engineering
Manuel Mendivil: MSc Management
Jide Olanipekun: PhD – Chester Medical School
Gemma Sparkes: MSc Marketing Management

In order to get a better understanding of their vision and the work they currently do, the nine advocates answered the below questions collectively:

Who are the Student Race Advocates?

We are a group of students aiming to make a positive change within the University, specifically focusing on BAME-related topics. BAME students can use us in order to be heard and address issues they feel need to be changed. The Race Advocates are passionate about the role, and want to ensure all students feel they can see positive changes based on their feedback.

What is your purpose and what do you want to achieve?

Our purpose is to drive change for an environment where everyone is treated equally.

We will strive to create a platform for the voices of BAME students to be heard within the University, leaving tangible impacts. Since we started in January 2021, we have already run three events within the Diversity Festival. These events allowed us to connect with the University of Chester community and gain feedback from students – we’re in the process of using some of this feedback to create change within the institution.

Additionally, one of our long-term aims is to drive change and positivity throughout the University and wider communities

How and when were you established?

In June 2020, the University established a Race Equality Challenge Group to promote and co-ordinate positive change in relation to race equality and diversity across all sites, faculties and professional services departments at the University of Chester. One key initiative that the Group has taken forward is the development of the role of Student Race Advocates. We are proactive and motivated students who were appointed from January 2021.

Why did you want to become Advocates? 

We all have a passion and desire for making genuine and positive change. We want to put words into action, instead of just talking about change.

The death of George Floyd impacted our views and we wanted to represent people and ensure they felt represented. Instead of being angry about any lack of change, we want to be the ones who initiate it.

This role allows us to make a positive impact. For example, to our knowledge, we believe minority groups within the University are not interacting with each other, so we want to try and create a real sense of community across the institution.

Being one of the original Race Advocates and making a difference at a time of change internationally, as well as at the University, is something really distinctive which we can be proud to add to our CVs.

What are the challenges you feel BAME students currently face?

Statistically BAME students have been underrepresented in some areas of the University and this can deter us from seeking support. There is a sense of ‘imposter syndrome’ – it seems like we are on the outside looking in at times.

What are the biggest challenges you believe the Advocates will face?

We feel that the biggest issue we’ll face is the resistance to change. Some people may think that nothing needs to change, but it does and the University creating the role of Race Advocates is part of that process. Resources is another issue – we feel it may be tough to get the word out there about the team and what we’re trying to achieve, but we are working hard with the University to ensure that people will discover us and feel they can ask us to help them with anything.

What have you achieved so far?              

We hosted three events as part of the University’s Diversity Festival. The first was a ‘Meet your Race Advocates’ session online. This event allowed us to introduce ourselves, say what areas we are focusing on and answer any questions people had.

We also hosted a ‘Sharing our Culture’ event, where several international Advocates spoke about their cultural background and homelands. This talk gathered a lot of questions and comments – everyone was very supportive and the feedback was great. Finally, we held an event with Liverpool’s first black MP, Kim Johnson. She told us about her career journey and the obstacles she overcame on the road to making history.

We have also created social media channels, allowing us to speak about a range of topics and keep BAME students updated with any important developments.

Whilst we have achieved a lot in three-months, we are in our early days of existence and still have a lot more coming up. We are full of passion, teamwork and keen to collaborate, so we’re always looking for things to improve and change for the benefit of our students.

Many of us are now fully trained Mental Health First Aiders; we have attended formal meetings and committees to give views and suggestions for change; we are linking with staff across the University to review policies and practices through a BAME-student lens and we are contributing to work on an inclusive curriculum. 

What would be your message to staff and students at the University?

Have an open mind and be open to change. Working together will allow us to break down any barriers and continue to create real change.

Keep up with the latest updates from the Race Advocates by following their Instagram channel. You can also contact them via email.

Students behind innovations to help improve road safety, health, food choices, fashion options, the workplace and the environment are a step closer to realising their business dreams after being selected as finalists in the University’s 2021 Enterprise Challenge.

A total of 10 students have been announced as finalists in the Challenge, run by The Graham Shapiro Foundation and powered by ARCET Global.

Some of the finalists in the University’s Enterprise Challenge
Some of the finalists in the University’s Enterprise Challenge.

The competition offers the chance for emerging entrepreneurs from any degree discipline to have their ideas tested by a panel of business experts with an impressive pedigree of enterprise, and win £1,000 plus a mentorship programme from the Foundation.

The finalists, chosen from almost 70 entries, are:

  • Gena Fraser – Road Signs Aloud – an app/device that reads written traffic signs and written traffic information aloud, designed for – but not exclusive to – drivers with dyslexia.
  • Lina Tejoprayitno – Fast Pop Specs Limited, trading as Pop Specs, in partnership with Daniel Barnes – assembling a full set of prescription glasses within 15 minutes.
  • Liam Boyle – Pop-a-Drops – vitamin drops developed with expert advice from the University’s NoWFOOD Centre.
  • Marcin Jasinski – Rapid – an electric scooter hire service for residents of Chester.
  • Shakir Tahiri – Renewable Energy Storage – developing storage of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
  • Sondra Butterworth – RareQoL Limited – a not-for-profit social enterprise, working to improve quality of life for the rare disease community and under-represented groups, as well as families and individuals working and living with the effects of rare dementias.
  • Alzbeta Nelson – Making Eden – a design and consultancy company, connecting people and nature in sustainable places.
  • Hanna Andersen – As We Are – a coaching and training consultancy, with the aim to increase diversity in leadership and happiness at work.
  • Atinuke Owoeye – Sieuft Trading Limited – exporting (mainly food) products that are produced in Africa.
  • Valerie Hutson – Lokarbo Nutrition – creating a range of food with the NoWFOOD Centre, helping people achieve a healthy weight and combat Type 2 diabetes.

Graham Shapiro, driving force for the Challenge and Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Chester Business School, said: “We want to give young entrepreneurs every possible encouragement to realise their dreams.

“The standard of entries was excellent, exhibiting outstanding innovation and ambition. We look forward to finding out more about each student and business, announcing the winner and helping to transform their vision into successful enterprise.”

Mark Hamill, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ARCET Global said: “We’ve been thrilled with the entries from such inspiring young entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“The finalists have now been invited to submit a 10-minute video pitch of their business or idea. The judges and everyone involved is excited for the live-streamed virtual ceremony on July 14, when the winner will be revealed.”

Dr Connie Hancock, Head of Department for Management at Chester Business School added: “With core aims relating to everything from health to the environment, our students are developing enterprises which can make a big difference. This competition is one of many ways we encourage such entrepreneurship and is highlighting new initiatives and ideas with much promise for the future.

“We are extremely grateful to Graham Shapiro for making this Enterprise Challenge possible, in addition to all the support he provides as our Entrepreneur in Residence, and to ARCET Global for helping to run our competition so brilliantly.”

Students have described how they are “thrilled”, “delighted”, “proud” “honoured” and “excited” to be chosen as finalists, in addition to how it has given them “confidence” and drive to do well in the competition and grow their initiatives.

The Graham Shapiro Foundation is a charity that supports mental health, well-being, innovation and young entrepreneurialism in the UK and ARCET Global is a leading provider of professional services.

For further information about the Enterprise Challenge, please visit:


Some of the students share their reaction to being chosen as finalists:

Gena Fraser said: “I am thrilled to be a finalist in the 2021 Enterprise Challenge. Road Signs Aloud will help to make driving safer for so many drivers and I am honoured to have the opportunity to showcase my work via this platform.”

Liam Boyle said: “It is extremely exciting to take part in the Enterprise Challenge as there are some amazing prizes to be had; I feel very proud to be shortlisted.”

Marcin Jasinski said: “I am incredibly grateful and excited to be one of 10 finalists. I am looking forward to taking part in the final stage and I wish the very best of luck to my competitors.”  

Shakir Tahiri said: “It feels a substantial achievement to be selected, in particular as a student with an engineering background. I seek to help people and bring a smart change in the future through the development of sustainable energy, photovoltaic systems and low-cost storage solutions for renewables – and hopefully, this programme will help achieve my goal.” 

Sondra Butterworth said: “I am thrilled that RareQoL is one of the 10 finalists for the University of Chester Enterprise Challenge. With the guidance and support of my supervisors Associate Professor Dr Andrew Mitchell and Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead, during my Doctoral studies, I have really gained a solid grounding in the practice of psycho-social research, and set up social enterprise RareQoL Limited in July 2020. As part of this I am leading a ‘Whose Voice is it Anyway?’ campaign to draw attention to the voices of those who are often under-represented in discussions about issues that affect the rare disease community, looking at the UK Rare Diseases Framework and the English Action Plan, and working with Medics4RareDiseases and NHS England. The competition provides another opportunity to further the campaign #WhoseVoice.”

Hanna Andersen said: “I’m thrilled to be in the final with such a talented group of student-led businesses. It feels reassuring that all the work it takes to sustain a business alongside studying is worth it.”

Atinuke Owoeye said: “I am delighted to be in the finals of the competition. It is an acknowledgement that I am doing something good, giving me more confidence to keep growing in my entrepreneurial experience and growing my own business someday.” 

Valerie Hutson added: “I’m absolutely delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist. Studying for my Food Science and Innovation MSc has given me the knowledge and confidence to want to get into the development kitchen and formulate some delicious, low carb products. Having reduced my carbohydrate intake over the last two years, I know the benefits and challenges first-hand and am excited to make it easier for others to follow this way of eating too.”

On the judging panel are:

John M Mohin OBE D.Univ, Chairman of Graham Shapiro Design; Alissa Koopal, Chief Executive Officer at Pennine Events Ltd; Rob McKay, Managing Director of Sherrington Associates; Martin Nolan, Business and Leadership Coach; Cody Gapare, Founder of multi award-winning C-Lash as seen by Eylure, and Joel Blake OBE, Business Leader, Entrepreneur and Public Speaker.

Jonathon Roberts
Jonathon Roberts

A Business and Marketing student is embarking on his dream digital career – with a little help from graduates who have led the way in the industry.

Jonathon Roberts, who is set to graduate soon, is excited to be starting a new role as Web and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Assistant at Clicky Media.

The Business Management and Marketing Management student has joined the multi-award winning digital agency which is led by University alum, Oli Yeates.

Jonathon said: “I have strived to work for Clicky Media, so when the chance to work for them straight out of University came up, I was so happy.

“I’m really enjoying meeting all my colleagues, working with a wide range of clients and continuing to develop my experience in digital marketing.”

The 21-year-old from near Frodsham added that the University’s Graduate Peer Mentoring Programme had spurred him on in achieving his ambitions.

“The Graduate Peer Mentoring programme has been fantastic. I am able to talk to a graduate who has gone through the same University experience as me, share ideas, future plans, and even share marketing tips and techniques.

“Talking to someone already working in the marketing industry is really beneficial – if I have any questions, I can easily get them answered.”

The mentoring programme is just one example of how Jonathon has made the most of opportunities to enhance his experience and employability throughout his three-year degree.

“It has been great to work within the industry during my studies, through freelance roles, internships and volunteering, especially helping a wide range of businesses and charities with their Digital Marketing,” he said.

“During the first lockdown, I worked with a local travel company to provide marketing support during their rebrand. More recently, I secured a freelance role with an alum who was looking for support with website design, development, maintenance and SEO.

“Alongside this, I have also completed the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) qualification, and taken part in the Chester Difference Award, which recognises students who take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities, as well as the Venture Programme which supports students to explore their entrepreneurial potential.

“I have also been part of the Business Society committee as Digital Marketing Lead and more recently Vice President.”

As can be seen in Jonathon’s work experience, he did not let the challenges of the pandemic deter him from building his portfolio – and in fact, cemented his goals.

“Looking back at 2020, it was actually a great year for me in terms of gaining experience and developing my knowledge. I attended a few workshops during lockdown, which really helped me to develop new skills and influenced my decision to search for an SEO role in a digital marketing agency after graduating.”

He added that the University of Chester and its Business School had proved the right choice for his undergraduate degree.

“One of the main reasons I decided to study at the University of Chester was due to me being able to stay at home and commute to Chester. Another reason was because of the friendly community I experienced when attending Open Days.

“It was a good decision – now I’m working for an amazing agency with its headquarters in Chester, and looking forward to what’s ahead.”

A unique competition is fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship at the University with the chance for students to win an exciting four-day adventure combining business workshops and intrepid outdoor activities.

Santander Universities UK is giving 10 lucky students the opportunity to enjoy both business sessions and adrenaline sports at the famous mountaineering venue of Plas Y Brenin, National Outdoor Centre, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.

The Venture Adventure aims to develop entrepreneurial thought and action, helping to turn business ideas into a reality, through a memorable mix of interactive talks and activities including kayaking, open boating, stand-up paddle boarding, raft building, indoor and outdoor climbing and abseiling, this August.

Man in a canoe
The Venture Adventure will help students to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, through a combination of business sessions and outdoor activities.

The competition closes on June 1 and entrants just need to be a University of Chester student with a business idea to apply. To find out more, please visit the competition web page at:

The Venture Adventure has been organised with Chester Business School, which has a dedicated entrepreneurship module supporting students to start their own business as part of their degree. 

Dr Henry Sidsaph, Lecturer at the University of Chester Business School, said: “We are dedicated to fostering a culture of entrepreneurial endeavour at Chester, and we are grateful to Santander Universities for all the support they provide to our enterprising students.

“The University of Chester Venture Adventure offers an unforgettable experience and is an example of a partnership that brings about many opportunities for our students through mentorship, learning and backing, to help transform ideas into feasible new ventures.”

Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director at Santander Universities UK added: “It is a tremendous pleasure for us to be part of the journey for such inspiring students and help them progress towards their goals.

“The entries are already coming in and we look forward to reading them all and choosing the winners. To be able to see the vision and passion, and help take students on their next steps in business through the Venture Adventure, is an extremely rewarding, incredible experience.”