Dog food pioneer proves a bright Spark

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A PHILOSOPHY undergraduate from the University of Leeds, who has developed a range of ‘home-made, healthy dog food’, is this year’s winner of the Sir Peter Thompson Enterprise Award.

The annual event, organised by the university’s business start-up service Spark, is open to current students as well as graduates, with the winner receiving an award of £5,000.

Serial entrepreneur Sir Peter Thompson is an alumnus of the University of Leeds and selects the winner each year.

He said: “There is always a wide range of enterprising business ideas coming out of the university and the winners are chosen for their business idea and its potential impact on the UK’s economic, social or cultural prosperity.”

This year’s winner is Sophie Tregellis with her fledgling company, Top Collar. “My dog biscuits have different flavours and are made with human-grade ingredients,” she said. “I hadn’t originally considered the idea as a serious business proposition until a chat with the university careers centre changed my mind.”

She explained: “Spark believed that the business could be a success – they saw that I am passionate about dog health and wellbeing.”

In between submitting coursework, Ms Tregellis put together a formal plan for the business after speaking to professional services advisers. “It’s fantastic to have won the prize so early on in the company’s development,” she said. “I’m busy finalising the Top Collar website and will use the prize money to fund hand-made production of the range using my recipes, freeing me up to promote the brand.”

Ms Tregellis has been allocated space to sell her range at Handpicked Hall, a community of independent retailers based in Leeds’ Grand Arcade, which launches in the summer. “This is a great opportunity to work among other specialist producers and learn from them and shows that other people also have belief in my business,” she added.

A second award has been made by Sir Peter Thompson this year.

Final year medicine undergraduate, Wendy Matthews, has developed a non-invasive medical device to stop nose bleeds and received a £5,000 research award, enabling her to develop a prototype of her device. “I had the idea after working on hospital wards and seeing how problematic nose bleeds could be,” said Ms Matthews. “My device can be used in hospitals, but could also be used in sports and with children.”