Meet the VTKW Global Student Challenge Teams – Ecosy

As part of the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge, August 29 – September 4, 2010, you're invited to attend and observe student teams from around the world compete for a $25,000 grand prize and trophy at the Global Student Business Concept Challenge on September 2, 2010 at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center

You can also attend "Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century," a workshop led by Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, on September 1, 2010 at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. Please register for the Challenge and Workshop by August 25.

Please meet Team Ecosy, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom!

Q. Who are your team members?

A.  Vincent Murray – Final Year Masters in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering; Colm Connolly – Final Year Masters in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering; David Crudden (not attending) – Final Year Masters in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Q. What is your business idea/concept?

A. Ecosy, a wood pellet fueled patio heater, is Ethical Energy’s flagship product and is the only product of its type on the entire outdoor heating market. Wood pellet technology has been utilised to reduce fuel costs, increasing mobility and reduce environmental impact in comparison to current patio heaters.

This product aims to extend outdoor entertaining by meeting the needs of commercial and domestic users whilst simultaneously producing significantly lower carbon emissions than patio heaters powered by gas or electric. By implementing the Ecosy, commercial and domestic customers can reduce the operating costs by up to 50%. The Ecosy combines a high output power, matching and exceeding competitors’ products, while outputting significantly less carbon pollution.

VTKW Global Student Challenge Team Ecosy

Q. What inspired you to pursue this business idea?

A.  Smoking bans have been introduced in countries across the globe in an attempt to limit the amount of harm caused to staff through passive smoking. A smoking ban was introduced in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2007, effectively prohibiting persons from smoking in venues such as restaurants, hotels and bars. To ensure high levels of customer satisfaction, many bars and restaurants installed outdoor heaters into their outdoor smoking facilities. The majority of outdoor heaters are gas fueled and emit enormous amounts of harmful emissions into the atmosphere and are extremely expensive to operate. European-wide legislation is being proposed in parliament with the intention of an outright ban on gas fueled outdoor heaters due to their damage to the environment. A significant market exists for an outdoor heater that is cost effective to operate and environmentally friendly.

Q. When was the first inception of your business idea/concept?

A.  Following a detailed marketing survey and gap analysis in late 2009, the market opportunity for a reduced emissions patio heater was highlighted. Two prototypes have been fully developed and tested since this, leading to a solution to this problem. Wood pellet patio heaters represent a niche market, and Ethical Energy has designed a product which is the only product of its type on the entire outdoor heating market. There is massive scope for this product to excel in this market and be a success due to its higher efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

Q. In what competitions have you participated?

  • Irish Student Enterprise Awards 2010; April 2010; Enterprise Competition; 3rd Place; National Competition, 350 student teams from across Ireland
  • Royal Academy of Engineering Innovation Hothouse 2010; June 2010; Design Competition; Regional Winner; Regional Competition, 30 teams from across Scotland and Northern Ireland, proceeding to the United Kingdom Final at the London Design Festival on 21st September 2010
  • What’s The Big Idea Competition 2010; April 2010; Business Competition; Winner; Institution Competition, 400 teams from across Queen’s University Belfast

Q.  What do you hope to accomplish by attending the VTKW Global Student Challenge?

A.  Colm:  I plan to continue following my dream of starting a business and I see this competition as a stepping stone towards that. I hope we can bring our product onto the next level and continue to develop innovative new products in the future. I see this as an opportunity to help achieve goals and ambitions that I set early in my University career. I will also relish in the opportunity to experience the innovative work from students all over the world which will provide a benchmark for our product. I feel this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet new people and make friends for life.

A.  Vincent:  In the future I hope to start my own business and believe that this competition provides me with a platform to get closer to that goal. I have recently taken up a part time position within Queen’s University as the Enterprise and Development Coordinator. The role is to develop a volunteering strategy for the entire university and to encourage students to volunteer.  The Global Student Challenge is a great opportunity to exhibit our product on an international platform. I feel that this competition is a once in a life time opportunity to network and met like- minded people from across the world. This experience will also help me develop skills through the competition.

Good luck to Team Ecosy!

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To fully experience the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge, you're invited to:

Learn about "Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century," in the workshop led by Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks during the day of September 1 at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, attend the NCTC Fall Gala on the evening of September 1, lodge that night at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, then attend and observe student teams from around the world compete for a $25,000 grand prize and trophy at the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge beginning the morning of September 2, 2010.

Here's more about The Challenge and the schedule of events, here's where to register for the Workshop, Challenge, or as an advertiser, and here's where to register for the NCTC Fall Gala.

Learn more about the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge on the VT KnowledgeWorks site, through individual posts with news and updates via VTKW Global Student Challenge on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks, and by visiting the VTKW Global Student Challenge on Facebook.

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The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Challenge is made possible thanks to the generous Global Challenge Event Sponsors, including COTA, G.J. Hopkins Inc., HCA VA Health System, Interactive Achievement, Novozymes, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Rackspace, TechLab, and The Branch Group Inc.

Virginia Tech Office of Outreach and International Affairs, Montgomery County, Virginia, Panera Bread, and Custom Catering will sponsor meals during the Global Challenge Celebration. 

Welcome bags presented to each student finalist are sponsored by University Bookstore/Volume II Bookstore, the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Downtown Blacksburg, Inc., Virginia Tech Graduate School, the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech, and Mountain Lake.

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