Here are the five nominees for the Business Mentor of the Year Category. These individuals have supported a SETsquared student/student group to carry out enterprising activity at their university. 

David Maher Roberts – University of Bath

David has been incredibly generous in his support of student entrepreneurs at the University of Bath over the past year and as a direct result of his help, four are now launching highly promising technology businesses.

Despite being CEO of a growing digital technology firm and having a young family, David has found time to be a mentor in our Business Plan Competition and a judge in our app design competition. As mentor to the two students behind “GoTag” (a mobile platform for promoting, selling and interacting with student nightclub events), David has provided advice, introductions to key contacts and access to financial support. “GoTag” reached the final of the Competition but, more significantly, have launched the platform and already gained their first sales.

David was also instrumental in helping us establish the University’s first ever app design competition this year. As well as being a judge on the panel, David donated two tickets worth £700 to the internationally-renowned “X-Media Labs” conference, held at Peter Gabriel’s Realworld studios. As a result of attending this inspiring event the team behind “Virtual Loci” are now launching their project, an assisted learning app employing the latest visual and kinaesthetic methodologies.

Dan Turner – University of Bristol

Dan Turner is an alumnus of the University of Bristol and the Co-founder, Director, and CTO of ByBox.

For three years now, but this year in particular, he has given his time freely to help students develop their business ideas. Whether it be acting as a dragon in the university’s annual ‘Spark’ entrepreneurs’ boot-camp course or being a group mentor for the Engineering faculty’s ‘Innovation, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship’ module, Dan has provided fantastic help and insight to enable students to make the most of the opportunities offered to them.

He also given talks as part of a speaker series run by Research & Enterprise Development and the Careers Service on being an entrepreneur and has often met several students outside of these events for coffee to talk more on the subject. I have personally experienced his help and generosity first hand as both a mentor and a friend. The most amazing thing is that he has done all this with a smile despite how busy he is!

I would therefore highly commend Dan Turner to the panel for being chosen as the SETsquared Mentor of the Year 2012 in recognition of the fantastic passion he brings to supporting young entrepreneurs.

Stewart Noakes – University of Exeter

Stewart Noakes has a long relationship with the University of Exeter, starting with his undergraduate degree in Physics. Since then Stewart has started and grown his business ‘Transition Consulting Limited’ in the Exeter Innovation Centre and completed his MBA at the Business School.

As a successful small business founder and chairman, Stewart has always been an active supporter of entrepreneurship at the University of Exeter. In the past year Stewart has offered mentoring support to student and graduate business start-ups coming out of the University; he has provided a presentation at the SPARK conference despite having to go to Boston at short notice and delivering the presentation via skype; he has taken part in the Xing business plan competition; and has acted as a mentor and sponsor of the Launch48 mash-up event held in the Innovation Centre.

Despite the demands on his time Stew is always willing to contribute his thoughts and experience to the Student Entrepreneurship activity and offers inspiration and motivation to thoseheworks with.

Chris Richards – University of Southampton

Chris Richards has played an extensive role in mentoring SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) Southampton project leaders this year.

He has, primarily, worked with Amy Flavell, helping her to construct a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investment platform in order to expand the project ‘Right Light’. Chris has provided  a listening ear and been available to offer professional advice right through from the initial idea to the development of a successful business model which ensures the financial sustainability and expansion of the project. Chris has also mentored two further project leaders, and has begun working with other future leaders, demonstrating his commitment to mentoring SIFE Southampton students for several years to come.

As an alumnus of the University, with considerable, relevant, professional expertise, Chris was invited to join the SIFE Southampton Business Advisory Board, and from the initial meeting it was clear that he was an invaluable resource for the students. His enthusiasm for the projects and willingness to help were only exceeded by his insightful querying and perceptive recommendations.

Chris has played a key role as a business mentor this year and his wealth of experience, valuable contributions and approachable manner mean he is a significant asset for the team.

Jonathan Hodrien – University of Surrey

People who manage Technology Transfer at a University do not generally get much involved with students. Jonathan Hodrien is different.

Jonathan finds time to sit on the student business funding panel (which includes outside entrepreneurs) at the University of Surrey. He reads and comments on business plans, he helps interview applicant student entrepreneurs, he gives good advice - and then he stays interested and involved with many of those students and their businesses.

A recent example is Thoughtified, who won the best graduate start-up award at SETsquared last year. Jonathan has a personal hobby involving wildlife charities and he suggested the company link to Surrey Wildlife Trust for their Manage Places software concept. Not only that but he made the introduction which led to good business opportunities and continues to meet with the company regularly.

Jonathan has done the same with other Surrey companies such as Performance Vision, suggesting ways forward.

Jonathan has probably read over 50 student business plans, gives (often strong) advice on them all, and meets with many of the students too.

For a person with a non-student job, Jonathan happily gets involved. He attends various enterprise events such as HEEG and he probably does not think he is a mentor. He is!