Student's wild swimming business idea wins big cash investment

A student from Gloucestershire who dreamt up a business that helps improve the safety of wild swimmers has walked away with first prize and a cash investment from the Royal Agricultural University’s annual Big Idea awards.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Grand Idea 2023 winner Chris Baker is well on his way to developing his business idea, Water Mate.

Wild swimmers look set to benefit from a clever business idea created by a Gloucestershire student which has won him £5,000 of investment from the Royal
Agricultural University

Twenty-five-year old Chris Baker has won the Cotswold university’s Grand Idea 2023 prize for Water Mate, a business which aims to help wild swimmers enjoy their activities in safety.

Baker is now expected to use his winnings to develop Water Mate into a fully fledged company offering a range of products to allow wild swimmers to know exactly how cold the water they are entering is and how long they have been in it for, all aimed at minimising risk and maximising enjoyment.

Baker said: ‘The £5,000 Grand Idea prize will mean I can properly launch my business and take it from a concept to a reality. I am aiming to manufacture and market Water Mate’s first products in the UK this summer.’

All of those products will be sustainably made from organic materials and recycled ocean plastic.

Now in its 16th year, the RAU’s Grand Idea competition is part of the university’s award-winning enterprise and entrepreneurship programme which provides a supportive environment for students to develop and launch their ideas.

The competition invites students to pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts in a Dragons' Den-style event.

The runner up, who received a prize of £500 investment in her business, was 21-year-old RAU applied equine science and business student Morgan Dutton, from Cheltenham, whose Blazing Browbands business makes bespoke equestrian products including browbands, stirrup covers and soundproof ear bonnets for horses.

This year’s judging panel included retail consultant and RAU honorary fellow, Christine Cross, and former Dragon’s Den contestant, food entrepreneur and RAU honorary fellow, Levi Roots.

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