Thursday 12th March 2020
Showground, Wadebridge

Graduates from across Cornwall celebrate after winning at the prestigious Unlocking Potential Awards

Eight graduates from across the county and a heat pump company from Truro are celebrating after receiving awards at the Unlocking Potential Graduate Success Celebration Event on the 3rd June.

Held at the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth, 130 businesses, graduates and members of the business support community gathered to recognise the achievements of graduate talent in supporting Cornish businesses to grow and succeed. It comes as the number of graduates Unlocking Potential has helped SMEs to employ over the last ten years tops 1,300 across almost 800 businesses. The event also congratulated more than 100 graduates who are currently completing or have recently completed an Unlocking Potential graduate project within a Cornish company.

Unlocking Potential assists businesses in recruiting graduates to take on projects which are recognised as integral to the company’s growth. Supported by a Business Development Manager, graduates undertaking these placements have also received an extensive training and development fund to ensure business growth is nurtured. Unlocking Potential (formerly Unlocking Cornish Potential) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and is managed by Cornwall College and Plymouth University.

Five main award categories – Excellence in Project Management, Contribution to Business Improvement, Best Use of ICT, Contribution to Business Growth and Individual Achievement – were presented in recognition of the most outstanding projects in the graduate placement programme. Unlocking Potential also awarded a ‘Stand Out from the Crowd’ Graduate of the year in recognition of a graduate who had excelled after completing Unlocking Potential’s comprehensive and widely-acclaimed employability course. The Gateway Graduate of the Year was awarded at the event too in recognition of the graduate who had used the work experience programme to maximum effect and Postgraduate Placements Cornwall honoured their top postgraduate student. Finally an inaugural award, Commitment to Growth through Graduate Talent was awarded to a business which has consistently put graduate recruitment at the heart of its successful business growth strategy.

Programme Director Allyson Glover said:

Since we last celebrated the impact of our graduate placement programme in 2013, we’ve matched a hundred more graduates to Cornish SMEs looking to grow – and what success we’ve seen as shown here today. We already knew that after a graduate project, the average increase in turnover is more than £180K. We know that success breeds success and where one graduate triumphs, others follow with businesses able to recruit again and again. But what this latest crop of amazing winners and nominees shows us is that Cornwall’s future is full of stars.

With a summary of their significant contribution to their businesses, the winners are as follows:

 Excellence in Project Management:

Nick Kearton from Newquay (BSc Marine Studies, Plymouth University), Pendennis Shipyard Ltd. (based in Falmouth).

Nick’s learned the ropes as a Trainee Graduate Project Manager and is now already heading up his second re-fit  – one of the six current projects underway at this superyacht shipyard. The Directors say he’s an excellent leader who has coped admirably managing 45 people and the 65,000 man hours involved.

Contribution to Business Improvement:

George Reith from Falmouth (BA English – University of Exeter), Radix Communications (based in Penryn).

As well as being a talented copywriter, George has introduced a quality control framework for this specialist copywriting agency. It means they’ve reduced the amount of time they spend on non-billable work from 18% of their time to just 6%. Turnover is up £100K year on year as a result.

Best Use of ICT:

Scott Brady living in Launceston (BSc Computer Sciences – Staffordshire University), eVerify Ltd. (based in Launceston).

Scott developed a software product which verifies email addresses in real time meaning eVerify are leaders in this very new field of technology. Together with a new website, customers increased by 2000% during the course of Scott’s project with turnover increasing sevenfold over two years.

Contribution to Business Growth:

Joe Ainsworth from Newquay, living in Truro (BSc IT Management for Business – Manchester Metropolitan University), Whistlefish (based in Redruth).

Twenty years since this affordable art retail business was started, they’re experiencing their biggest period of growth in their history. Since Joe re-launched their new e-commerce website, turnover has doubles as a result of increased sales. Last Mother’s Day for example they delivered 126 orders, this year, thanks to Joe they sent out 1096!

Individual Achievement:

Liselotte van Stipdonk living in Penryn (MA English Studies – University of Exeter), Nijhuis H20K Ltd. (based in Allet, Truro).

Liselotte had to take complete ownership for presenting and communicating the business, new branding, marketing material, website development and extending the company’s reach into new markets. She now works closely with an international marketing team, a UK commercial team and a management board in Holland.

Stand Out from the Crowd (SOftC) Graduate of the Year:

Laura Morrison from Falmouth (BSc Social Science – Plymouth University)

Within a week of finishing the course she applied for her first graduate-level role and says that by applying all that she learnt on SOftC, she landed a job at Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change.

Gateway Graduate of the Year:

April Smith-Taylor from Penryn (BA Photojournalism – University of Gloucester)

With her background in medical photography, she was an ideal choice to help Ultramed build their database of hospital trust contacts. This has brought in opportunities to develop the business and bring their pre-op assessment platform to market. She became so invaluable to the two directors, they were able to offer her a full-time job as their first employee.

Commitment to Growth through Graduate Talent:

Ben and Ali Hodges – Source Energy, a heat pump specialist company based in Grampound Road, Truro.

Source Energy has truly embraced the benefits of using great people as the powerhouse for their great business. They have employed numerous graduates through Unlocking Potential and have given a lot back by contributing significantly to the SOFTC and Gateway programmes showing graduates at the start of their careers what opportunities are ahead of them.

Postgraduate Placement Cornwall – Placement of the Year:

Sarah Peake, (MA Multimedia Broadcast Journalism – Falmouth University), Eden Project (based in St Austell).

She worked on researching specific projects, which contributed to Eden’s future exhibition and visitor experiences, particularly the big summer Dinosaur exhibition: Dinosaurs Unleashed.

Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication, also attended the awards ceremony and gave the closing remarks. He said:

Many congratulations to all of the Unlocking Potential Award nominees and winners! The injection of new knowledge into our local businesses is a key way of boosting productivity and the value of our economy as a whole. The ESF Convergence investment in Unlocking Potential plays a vital role in helping build the careers of the individual graduates and boosting business performance.

The ceremony marked the opening of the first ever ESF Enterprise Festival for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Also held at The Princess Pavilion in Falmouth, over June 3rd and 4th, the collaborative event between Unlocking Potential, Cornwall College, Truro and Penwith College, Falmouth University and Plymouth University welcomes over 300 Cornish professionals and entrepreneurs across four events.