PITCH PERFECT: Back Row Left to Right: Kerry McGlinchey, Rachael Hamilton, Catherine Smyth, Victoria Murray, Peter McNeilly, Paul Monaghan, Jemma Murray, Claire Smyth, Joanne Gibson. Front Row: Gareth Gribben, and Grace Watt
Students in the University of Ulster’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management showed their creativity and entrepreneurial flair for innovation when they pitched their ideas for a new business venture created by the 2012 London Oympics.
Among the many ideas proposed were an indoor ski slope, healthy eating soup bar, promotions business with an Olympic theme, outdoor pursuits centre, specialist guest house, sports themed bar targeting females, healthy drinks and a specialist sports retailer
Ian Bickerstaff, Lecturer in Accounting, Strategic Issues and Entrepreneurship explains how ‘The Pitch’ came about.
“London 2012’s Inspire programme is designed to bring the benefits of the Olympic Games to every part of the UK. The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Ulster was awarded the coveted Olympic Inspire mark for our final year project for students within the Department studying ‘The Business Plan’ module.
“The London Olympics and Paralympics will provide countless business opportunities throughout the UK so we asked students to research a possible economic opportunity and come up with a realistic business plan to assess its feasibility.
"The Pitch - which was loosely based on the same format as the successful television series, Dragon’s Den - was an excellent opportunity for our students to investigate the practical application of business theory. They had to pitch their idea to the ‘Dragons’ which included Carolyn Boyd from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Liam McKeating from Invest NI and Phil Goodwin from Deloitte.”
Peter McNeilly from Larne, a final Year BSc (Hons) International Travel & Tourism student came up trumps with his winning proposal for an indoor ski slope in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter which highlighted the potential positive impacts of such a development.
Speaking afterwards, Peter said he felt The Pitch was a great way to learn about the business potential of the 2012 Olympics.
“It was very useful to be mentored and have an opportunity to discuss our business ideas with the ‘Dragons’ who have a wealth of business experience. It certainly made me think that setting up my own business is a viable career option.”
All participating students received a ‘goody’ bag including items from Addidas, DCAL, NITB, Deloitte and InvestNI.
As the promoter of the winning pitch, Peter gets an expenses paid trip to London to visit The Olympic Stadium and see its progress; a visit to the headquarters of London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd (LOCOG) and Visit Britain’s London Offices. He will also be given an opportunity for a period of work experience with NITB.
Congratulating Peter on his successful pitch, Gerry Walsh, Head of Procurement, outlined the pivotal role of LOCOG and in particular the importance of the Inspire Programme, which was all about ‘inspiring yourself, inspiring others and doing your best’.
“All the students who participated in The Pitch have achieved this aim,” he said.
He went on to stress the importance of academia embracing initiatives like Inspire and commended the multi-faceted approach by all involved.
Among those present was Julie Jamison, from Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, Inspire Programmer for Northern Ireland.