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Double first for Bristol in enterprise awards

Press release issued: 4 December 2009

The University of Bristol is celebrating winning both awards in the first-ever South West University Enterprise awards.

The University of Bristol is celebrating winning both awards in the first-ever South West University Enterprise awards.

Jennifer Griffiths, who graduated with first-class honours in Computer Science earlier this year, won the best student business award for her business Snap Fashion, while Dr Sri Sharma won the best staff/alumni award for her business Ivita.

Snap Fashion is a pioneering new website that lets users search for items using images instead of words, allowing them to find the nearest match to an item they may have seen in a magazine, for example. They will define the region of the image they are interested in and the website will apply a number of image-processing techniques to the picture in order to find best matches for the item of clothing.

Ivita is a low-cost device that aids the treatment of macular degeneration, which is a cause of blindness.

Macular degeneration affects one million people worldwide. It particularly affects the population over 50 years of age and is set to increase over the next 20 years as the population ages. The only treatment is an injection of a drug into the eye, with each injection costing £1,000 and needed every six to eight weeks. Every time the drug is injected, a small amount leaks back out of the eye, meaning more injections are needed. Each injection also carries a small risk of infection that can lead to blindness.

Dr Sharma's device could stop about 20 per cent of the drug leaving the eye once it has been injected. This can help reduce the number of injections needed, lower the risk of infection and therefore blindness, as well as saving the NHS about £50 million a year.

The awards were open to all the universities in the South West and were assessed by judging panels chaired by Nick Bacon of Bray Leino and Nick Buckland of the Technology Strategy Board and a member of the board of the South West Regional Development Agency.

Professor Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Bristol University, said: "Jenny and Sri deserve to win these awards. They are both outstanding entrepreneurs. Clearly, the experience of winning the University's Enterprise awards earlier in the year stood them in good stead.

“The quality of all the businesses shortlisted last night was very high, which demonstrates that there is a thriving enterprise culture, not just here in Bristol, but across the region."


Further information

Please contact Sadia Rooney for further information.
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