An Abbots Langley student has been left "absolutely speechless" after winning a business competition and a cash prize.

Business student Lauren Ash has won £5,000 after taking the top prize in the University of Hertfordshire’s annual business start-up competition, Flare. The winners of the competition were revealed on October 10 at an awards dinner.

Lauren, along with partners Chloe Hackney from Hertford and Jacquelyn Bond-Vaughan from Borehamwood, beat competition from more than 100 entrants to win the title of "Most Innovative Idea" for their business.

The girls’ cash prize will go towards the development of their idea, which is a pet treats business.

Lauren said: "To have won flare feels amazing; I’m absolutely speechless, it really hasn’t sunk in yet. We’ve learnt so much from the process of entering the competition and have gained a lot of confidence in ourselves and the business.

We’ve especially found out how much support the university offers student businesses, such as the office space, which we will be making the most of! We’re going to use the money to create a website, develop a cat range and test our product."

The girls went head to head with 12 other finalists to impress the judges in a live Dragons’ Den style pitch.

The £20,000 prize fund was split into seven cash prizes, with awards granted to those who impressed Yolanda Rugg, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Amanda Freeland, Business Consultant and Growth Hub manager of Exemplas, and serial entrepreneur Syd Nadim.

Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) and Director of Marketing and Communications said: "The University is committed to supporting entrepreneurial spirit and the flare competition provides excellent support to help students and graduate entrepreneurs launch their business ideas.

"This year’s competition had some outstanding entries and all of the winning businesses have real potential; we are really excited to see how they develop."

More than 650 people have entered the competition since its launch eight years ago. In that time over £100,000 has been awarded to 25 finalists.