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Graduate Takes Her Business Stateside

A University of Ulster student, who has set up an award winning business, is planning to take her company to America after graduation. 

Christina Finlay from Bangor recently won an award at the Enterprise Ireland Think Outside the Box Awards 2011.

She came second in the competition winning €3000 for her business Cordou Ltd which has developed a series of apps that can provide technical support and information to sufferers of health conditions such as autism, and their carers.

Christina will graduate with a French with Business BA Hons degree at the Coleraine campus today.

She said: “Cordou Ltd is a social enterprise with the ultimate outlook of providing a service to enable autistic sufferers and people with learning disabilities to lead an independent lifestyle.

"The ‘Walk with me’ app series is a range of simple personal guides for an autistic person to carry with them as a visual step by step guide on a range of social journeys. These apps will instill confidence in the user and enable them to lead a more independent and self sufficient life.

“After graduation I plan to use the prize money to travel to America and Canada to promote Cordou and attend a number of autism conferences later this year.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Coleraine especially the New Venture Creation module was extremely useful for me as a springboard from my studies into the business world.

“My lecturers Fred Scharf and Dr Chris McLean have been a fantastic support and crucial to the development of my business.”

A €2500 academic prize was also won by Ulster’s Dr Chris McLean in recognition of his mentoring role in such high quality projects and commitment to student enterprise. Teams entered from the Coleraine campus have won the competition twice in the last three years and Fred Scharf collected the Academic Award last year. 

“Two of our teams were selected for the final this year from over 250 entries, and the SafeSurface team was also a strong contender for the overall prize. We are delighted, however, with Christina’s success this year and are confident that this award is only a stepping-stone to commercial success,” said Dr McLean.

Lecturer Fred Scharf added: “The competition proved to be an excellent platform for our two finalists, Cordou Ltd and Safe Surface, to showcase their highly innovative product concepts.

“Christina has moved on from the concept stage towards commercialisation and the fact that she has already set up her own company, Cordou Ltd, shows that she means business.”

The awards aim to encourage students to explore their flair and talent for entrepreneurship and setting up a business.

Held at Ulster's Jordanstown campus, the awards are supported by Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and Mammoth Advertising.