A device for soothing chronic eczema in young children has scooped the top £25,000 prize at this year’s prestigious Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.
Recent Brunel Design alumna Lauren Bell fought off competition from over 150 other entrants to take the award for Cosi Care, a non-medical device which helps relieve children with eczema from the persistent desire to itch.
Lauren’s victory marks the second in two years for Brunel alumni, with last year’s winner Tom Fudge now working with companies around the world to provide sustainable water treatment solutions.
“I can honestly say I am shocked,” said Lauren, who was also recently named the Mayor of London Entrepreneur of the Year for 2019. “It was the first competition I have done where we can actually watch all the pitches. I was last to pitch and sitting there all day watching how amazing the others did – it was very intimidating.
“I really did not envy the judges having to decide on this. I was very nervous but I really did give it my all. My business is a real passion project and I always try and let that show.”
Award-winning entrepreneur Lauren Bell, with her product Cosi Care
The starfish-shaped Cosi Care – derived from the Welsh word ‘Cosi’, meaning itching – works by cooling the itchy area with a cold, textured massage plate. The product will initially launch in 2020 in two varieties – Cosi Care Instant, which charges via USB and provides instant cooling on demand, and Cosi Care Ice, which cools using an ice pack from the freezer.
After working on the initial design for her degree – a large wooden turtle with cooling metal balls – Lauren applied to join the Central Research Laboratory, a business accelerator supported by Brunel, who helped her develop and hone her project into tangible, sellable products that are ready for market.
“We are in discussions with global retailers and distributors from Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and many more. It really is going to be a global venture,” said Lauren. “Our goal is to launch to distributors in January 2020 and retailers in March 2020.
“I am lucky to recently have partnered with a Dragon, Touker Suleyman, on this venture, who has helped massively with his team in helping us achieve this goal. Touker has amazing links to the lead distributors, has a great structure with Chinese manufacturers and also direct links to John Lewis, Boots, Mothercare and many more. His portfolio includes a number of baby products that have been amazingly successful, so I have great confidence in the team to make this happen!"
Cosi Care will launch as two products - Cosi Care Ice (left) and Cosi Care Instant
Lauren, a Swansea native, was initially inspired to design Cosi Care by her brother Rhys, who has suffered with severe eczema for nearly 20 years and now lives with the scars caused by a lifetime of persistent scratching. She said he’s ‘incredibly proud’ of how far the business he helped inspire has now come.
“He was the person I tested all the early ideas with and he was always so willing to help,” said Lauren.
“He is as excited as me at the prospect of taking this idea to market and actually helping children that are going through the same experiences we went through growing up.”
Launched in 2011, the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards provide a platform for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their projects. This year two winners were selected from over 150 entries, with Skate It Yourself – a platform for booking skateboarding lessons – taking the other top prize. The awards were presented at a special event held at the University of Westminster.
Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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