Jamie slaloms past the competition to win £5000

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) graduate Jamie Kunka has been named one of the three winners of this year’s £15,000 Sports Innovation Challenge.

The Sports Innovation Challenge is a business development programme and competition, run by the University of Stirling, for entrepreneurial students and recent graduates across Scotland. The winners will each receive £5000, desk space at Stirling University Innovation Park and a year’s access to a business mentor.

Since graduating in 2013 with a degree in Product Design, Jamie (26) has developed his final year project into an enterprising business idea that has garnered funding from several organisations. Lonely Mountain Skis specialises in hand-made skis built from Scottish timber and natural fibre composites and has also seen him win a Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Fellowship and be joint-winner of the University of Dundee Venture 2014 competition.

He said, “It’s amazing to have won the Sports Innovation Challenge on top of the other recognition. Half the money will be put towards research and development, while the other half will be used to produce demo skis to send to bloggers and other people who will allow me to get the name out there in time for the new ski season.

“When I came up with the idea of making bespoke skis in Scotland, I developed the brand first so that I had a fake business to prototype and put out on social media. This meant that I could gauge how people might respond to the idea. The feedback was really positive which gave me the encouragement to go ahead with the business.

“Having a brand in place was very helpful when it came to applying for funding. Although my business is an extension of my final year project, I think that refining the business aspect is particularly important when pitching for support.”

Jamie’s fellow DJCAD graduate Paula Fox was also nominated for the award. The competition aims to help sports-lovers develop their idea for an innovative sports-related business. A team of mentors take entrants from all academic backgrounds through each step in the journey to creating a business. The most promising students and recent graduates are then able to pitch their ideas to the panel of expert judges who decide which ideas are most worthy of a share of the £15,000.

With consumer spend estimated to be over £1.8billion in 2013, the sports industry is enjoying a boom with employment in the sector having grown 22 per cent since 2008.


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