6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

Royal Agricultural University student’s farm safety business tipped for success by Levi Roots and Julian Dunkerton

PUBLISHED: 11:24 18 June 2018

(L-R): Grand Idea runner up Alex Crawley (pictured in black tie) and winner Alex Dunn (pictured in dark purple dress) at the Royal Agricultural University’s Enterprise Awards dinner (c) Lee Hawley Photography

(L-R): Grand Idea runner up Alex Crawley (pictured in black tie) and winner Alex Dunn (pictured in dark purple dress) at the Royal Agricultural University’s Enterprise Awards dinner (c) Lee Hawley Photography


An idea to improve safety on farms has won a prestigious Dragon’s Den-style competition for student entrepreneurs

The Royal Agricultural University’s (RAU) 11th Grand Idea competition asked students to pitch their plans to expert judges to secure £2,500 of investment.

Winner Alex Dunn, 21, a third year agriculture student, faced the impressive panel including Levi Roots, of Reggae Reggae Sauce; Julian Dunkerton, of Superdry; Christine Cross, former Group Business Development Director at Tesco; Charlie Beldam, a former student and creator of Cotswold Gold extra virgin rapeseed oil and the RAU’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joanna Price.

(L-R): Grand Idea judges Charlie Beldam (Cotswold Gold), Christine Cross (independent consultant, formerly of Tesco), Levi Roots (Reggae Reggae Sauce), Julian Dunkerton (Superdry), Prof Joanna Price (Vice-Chancellor, Royal Agricultural University) (c) Lee Hawley Photography(L-R): Grand Idea judges Charlie Beldam (Cotswold Gold), Christine Cross (independent consultant, formerly of Tesco), Levi Roots (Reggae Reggae Sauce), Julian Dunkerton (Superdry), Prof Joanna Price (Vice-Chancellor, Royal Agricultural University) (c) Lee Hawley Photography

She found success because her business idea aims to improve health and safety on farms at the same time as productivity.

Alex, from Reading, said: “The scariest part of pitching was before I went in. I was nervous sitting outside but inside it went quite smoothly. They asked about financing and my plans to take the business forward.

“The University’s Enterprise Society really helped me to develop my ideas, as well as a proof of concept and a business plan that was really scalable.

“What excites me most about the business is to be able to make a difference in the industry. It’s not only agriculture here – there are people studying business and equine and you can learn so much – food production, for example, is going to be so important in the future. The University helps you develop any business idea you’ve got, whether it’s related to the agricultural industry or not.”

Runner up Alex Crawley, 36, a former Ghurka who fought in Afghanistan changed career to farming through the RAU’s Graduate Diploma in Agriculture.

His Grazing Management business helps restore important rare grasslands (including here in the Cotswolds) which benefit from being grazed by hardy native cattle.

Alex said: “I think the idea resonated with the judges because it was about something bigger than just me or the business. The University offers great opportunities for service leavers – there are so many of us who enjoy working outdoors, being active and the camaraderie.”

Levi Roots, who is also part of the RAU’s Advisory Council, said: “I’ve be involved for many years, which I’m very proud of. You see so many diverse and different pitches. The key thing is passion – that the students believe in themselves.

“The business ideas coming along in recent years are much more technology focussed, talking about Blockchain for example. Things have really moved on.

“If you are a young person thinking about university I would definitely recommend the Royal Agricultural University. It has history but at the same time students here have great mentors and teachers – it starts there. If you have people that can inspire you, and influence your life, you are much more likely to take things in.

“If someone asked me what the difference was between Grand Idea and the pitch I did on BBC Dragons Den – this is not much different. I must have given one of the worst pitches ever – I wasn’t perfect and got some numbers wrong. What the Dragons saw was passion. These students are the same. It’s never just about the product, it’s about the person as well.”

Julian Dunkerton, co-founder of clothing brand Superdry said he was ‘staggered by the quality’ of the winning pitch from Alex.

He added: “The Grand Idea competition at the Royal Agricultural University is a fantastic concept. I’m enjoying being involved because it is exactly what I believe in for the future of this country, turning entrepreneurial ideas into real businesses and creating jobs.

“There are not many places where you can come and learn to be an entrepreneur –so it is a fantastic opportunity for those that are studying here and those who are going to be here in the future.”

Katy Duke, Head of Enterprise at RAU said: “The two ideas that impressed the judges most were based on strong business plans and they also demonstrated great passion and determination to see their ideas succeed. Our Enterprise Programme includes mentoring and support to ensure students get the confidence and know-how they need to make it as an entrepreneur.”

Over eleven years Grand Idea has received over 100 business ideas, and enabled many entrepreneurial students to launch and grow a successful business, such as BiJimini, which creates high-protein flour mixed with crickets.

The RAU was nominated in this year’s Guardian University Awards in the Employability and Entrepreneurship category, thanks to its Enterprise Programme and support for students starting their own businesses.

For more information, visit the Royal Agricultural University website here.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Cotswold Life

Yesterday, 17:13

If you fancy a Christmas offering that’s absolutely ‘Just So’, then head to Cirencester’s Barn Theatre for a musical that has just about everything, says Miles Jarvis

Read more
Yesterday, 11:20

People travel from far and wide to visit the Cotswolds at Christmas. We’ve compiled 24 reasons why you should join them.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:25

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Yesterday, 14:39

Recorded in the Domesday Book, Bicester has a rich past relating to sheep, horses, leather working, lace making and military. It’s a treat to visit somewhere new, and so it is with a first-time visitor’s perspective this postcard by Tracy Spiers is written...

Read more
Yesterday, 12:47

Ben Miller tells Katie Jarvis why he loves Kemble Station, the New Inn at Coln and the village of Bagenden...and how he still hasn’t met Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Read more
Yesterday, 12:44

Celebrate the other side of Yuletide in the South Gloucestershire village of Marshfield, where on Boxing Day a curious procession from another age can be seen making its way along the High Street...

Read more
Yesterday, 12:29

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Yesterday, 10:21

The weekend is fast approaching and for those still deciding how to spend their Friday through to Sunday, we pick 5 of the best ways to spend your weekend in the Cotswolds

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Swan Lake. We know the music, we know the iconic imagery of the beautiful ballerina dressed as a swan, but I’m guessing that without reading the libretto in the program, most people don’t know the story. Which is why the audience relies on the dancers to tell us.

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“To win this prestigious award is a real compliment to the wider team in Renishaw’s manufacturing services operation, particularly when we consider the achievements of the other excellent shortlisted companies.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stepping up to receive the world’s first MBA Leading Business degrees at the ceremony were Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive of Target; Luke Freeman, Joint Chief Executive of MF Freeman; and Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search