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these difficulties first hand inspired him to research a design for his final year project. Through his master’s level research, Daniel hit upon the idea that the children could generate power for their classroom while they were playing. He just needed to design a device to enable the process to happen. “Despite the hardships in Africa, one of the positive aspects is the vibrancy of the children,” explained Daniel. “I realised that something designed to be played on by the children could create energy at the same time. A see-saw was the concept I started to evolve.” The business side of things almost happened by accident though, and

…it’s my overriding passion to do this and make it happen…

was a mere means to an end while Daniel was getting the design ready for his Degree Show.

“I wanted to take a prototype of my design out to Africa and film it in use for the Degree Show,” explained Daniel about his plans. “No one had done that before. I wanted to be innovative and possibly use the film to apply for jobs in International Development, but I knew I needed about £1,000 for the flight and to get the kit made up for the see-saw to work.” Daniel saw an opportunity to enter a BizCom competition through the University’s Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education (SPEED) programme and won the £1,000 cash prize. “I entered just to win the prize money for my trip. I wasn’t even thinking of my design in the context of a business at the time but the entry form helped me to see I actually had a business model,” explained Daniel. As well as the cash prize, Daniel received mentoring support that

helped him prepare a business plan and by the time the Degree Show had arrived he had not only tested and filmed his see saw in Africa, he had registered PlayMade Energy, designed its logo and launched a website ( for his new business. The University’s guidance has continued long after graduation and as part of the newly launched Institute of Applied Entrepreneurship, Daniel has secured more graduate mentoring support and funding. He gained a place on the MAS Product Innovation Consortium (PIC) scheme, which is also helping fund a final prototype of his product. Daniel is using testing space at the University to help him test the prototype to record the amount of energy that can be produced from average use, and ensure it meets necessary product compliance and British Standards. Currently, Daniel estimates if children play on the see-saw for one to two hours they will charge two supplied 12v 7ah batteries, which could result in a school being able to power four lanterns for three to four hours, providing essential evening light for local communities. “When the electricity is generated by the movement of the see-saw you can hear it,” said Daniel. “There’s audible feedback, which is really encouraging for the kids whilst they have such fun with their friends. I was so enthused seeing that. The teachers could see the potential for the classroom too.” The power could also be used for other low drain appliances such as radios, MP3 players and communication devices. Daniel hopes that further development of the battery specification may enable the use of recycled computers in developing world schools in the future. It’s Daniel’s enthusiasm and passion that has recently earned him The Lord Stafford Award 2008 for Entrepreneurial Spirit as well as being named the Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 at the Institute of Applied

Student days profile Lived: Priory Hall, Stoke and Parkside Favourite pub: Dogma Favourite memory: I attended the summer ball at the end of every year I studied in Coventry and had some great nights with a lot of good friends. Entrepreneurship annual awards. He hopes that winning high profile awards will attract attention from sponsors or businesses that will help with the funds for the final testing so he can get Energee-Saws working in many African schools. “I once saw a billboard in Kenya that said ‘Education is our route out of poverty’ and it reminds me how important my project is,” explained Daniel. “When I ask African children what they want to be when they grow up, they say they want to be a doctor or a pilot. There’s a sense of optimism there and it starts by making a small difference.” To sponsor the installation of an African school see-saw this year please contact

Want to set up a business? Contact Business Enterprise Works on + 44 (0) 24 7623 6001 or find out more at


Evolve Spring 2009 - Coventry University Alumni Magazine  

Evolve is Coventry University's magazine for Alumni

Evolve Spring 2009 - Coventry University Alumni Magazine  

Evolve is Coventry University's magazine for Alumni