Date of release: Thursday, May 26, 2016

The first enterprise and study hub in the Netherlands has earned two students the £5,000 first prize in the University of Greenwich Business Planning Competition.

De Plek Rotterdam is the brainchild of Milou Grijpink, 25, and Dorien Groeneweg, 24, two Human Resource Management students from the Hogeschool, Rotterdam.

Milous says: "De Plek is a spot in the centre of Rotterdam were students, entrepreneurs and start-ups can meet, create, work and network. It offers meeting spaces, rooms for such things as photoshoots and we have an online network, where people can post information about themselves and their work. From here, collaborations can grow.

"We came up with the idea on a study trip in Barcelona when. We had some workshops and were at a place where students and entrepreneurs were sitting in the same room helping each other. When we came back home, we were looking for a same place in Rotterdam, but couldn´t find it.

"There is also a place for students to help them find an internship or interact with entrepreneurs for work or assignments. The database will provide all sorts of tips, tricks and useful formats. The official opening will be on Friday 1 July.

"We still can't believe we won the competition but it has already been so helpful in terms of feedback and contacts. It makes our network bigger, which also improves the network of the start-ups and students who visit us. It gives us also more confidence that our plan will be successful and we plan to expand!"

The competition, run by the university's Business School, aims to encourage and support students and graduates with the creation of an innovative business idea. Entrants took part in a series of support workshops and worked with a mentor before submitting a final business plan. The 13 teams were interviewed by the judges before pitching their business plan to the audience at the final event.

Two runners-up won £2,500 each: Xiaoxin Zhu's Cherry Express, a web-based logistics service; and Claudia Bussieres' EliRose, an organic skincare collection.

The university also recently hosted its Social Enterprise Challenge, which saw adult nursing student Kimberley James take the first prize of £2,500 for Your Healthcare Services, which uses traditional community care to complement modern healthcare technology. Runners up were Maria-Gracia Pandura Valencia (£1,500) for Nuna Peru, a retail business concentrating on Peruvian products; and Taylor McDonald (£1,000), whose Together we Succeed is an online hub which focuses on jobs and training for young people.

The Business Plan Competition judges were: Oliver Rothschild Lucas Peters, Michael Wilson, Warrick Harniess and Yvonne Platt. The competition was sponsored by Santander.

For more on the Business School:

Picture: Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor of the university, Milou Grijpink, Dorien Groeneweg and Michael Wilson from Santander.

Story by Public Relations.