Duncan Lyster has reached the Champion of Champions Grand Final of the prestigious Engineers in Business Competition.

Exeter graduate startup secures top 10 in engineering competition

Exeter graduate, Duncan Lyster has reached the Champion of Champions Grand Final of the prestigious Engineers in Business Competition (EIBC) to be held at the Royal Academy of Engineering, London on 28 October 2019. 

Duncan is the founder of Lyster Surfcraft; producing lightweight, high performance and environmentally-friendly hollow wooden surfboards as a long-lasting, commercially available alternative to plastic-foam based surfboards. Duncan will present alongside the top ten finalists, whittled down from thousands of entrants to an esteemed audience of invited guests including Lord Sainsbury of Turville, whose Gatsby Charitable Foundation, funds the EIBC prize fund.

The ELEVATE Engineers in Business Fellowship Competition, which focuses on developing engineering projects that help society, was a perfect fit for Duncan’s environmentally friendly alternative to plastic boards.  Duncan said: “I’m hoping to be able to build Lyster Surfcraft into a business that can have a real impact and provide a more sustainable contender to the biggest board brands. I genuinely believe that my boards will be a better choice than almost everything out there.”

Duncan is supported by departments across the University including the Student Startup Team, Innovation Impact and Business and the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science.

He received early-stage seed funding from the Student Startup team, enabling him to develop prototypes of his design. The team also awarded Duncan the Graduate Entrepreneur Maintenance Fund, designed to cover essential living costs, enabling him to stay in Exeter post-graduation. He could continue working full time on developing his business with the support of the team. Earlier in the year, Duncan also secured a place at the SETsquared Graduate Acceleration Showcase in London, pitching Lyster Surfcraft to a room of investors, incubator managers and policy makers.  

Remarking on Duncan’s achievement, Sarah Brooks, Impact and Partnership Development Officer said: “The University are delighted to be part of the Engineers in Business Competition and are looking forward to working further with the Sainsbury Management Fellows in the future. I’m very proud of Duncan’s hard work, and pleased that we’ve enabled him to be part of this prestigious competition.”

At the first round of the ELEVATE competition, Duncan received first prize for his innovation and a £1500 Engineers in Business Prize Award. The funds have enabled him to submit a design patent application and continue the development of his innovatively-designed surfboards. At the final on 28 October, Duncan will have the opportunity to receive a further £10,000 and enhanced support, should he be declared the overall winner of the competition.

For more information about the Engineers in Business Fellowship and associated competitions visit the website.

For more information about the Student Startup team visit the website.

Date: 7 October 2019

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