Saving lives through invention
Since graduating five years ago with a BSc(Hons) in Professional Design with Professional Experience, Emily Brooke has taken the world of cycling safety by storm. Along the way, she has blazed a successful trail in the business world, picking up numerous awards including the 2014 Natwest everywoman Iris Award sponsored by IBM and the 2015 New Generation Award at the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Awards.
Whilst studying at the University of Brighton, Emily hit upon the idea of making traffic more aware of cyclists and conceived Laserlight. Laserlight is a different kind of bike light which projects a bicycle symbol onto the road six metres ahead of the cycle. The projection was designed to fill the notorious blind spot many drivers miss which causes fatal collisions with cyclists.
Emily developed her prototype with the help of the university’s enterprise network, beepurple, which supported her efforts in launching the Laserlight. Beepurple operates within the university’s Careers Services and provides students and graduates with specialist advice and training to launch their own businesses.
In 2011, Emily received a Santander travel grant through the university which she used to travel to Babson College, USA in order to take part in the Santander and Babson College Entrepreneurship Program (a Santander-funded course for entrepreneurial women). Through a series of lectures and hands-on project work, Emily used this experience to gain a toolkit of knowledge and experience of entrepreneurial skills to broaden her learning and professional opportunities. Emily attributed these skills to enabling her to take her final year project to market, which she did and with amazing success.
Emily said: “I am so incredibly grateful to Santander, including the branch at the University of Brighton. That course at Babson really opened my eyes. Before that point I had never really even heard the word ‘entrepreneurship’, let alone thought about starting my own company, and the scholarship at Babson gave me the confidence, courage and conviction to come home and do just that!”
Operating under the brand name Blaze, Emily has attracted global attention for Laserlight, which has been hailed as a major breakthrough in tackling the issue of poor visibility for cyclists on roads and improving their safety. Laserlight is now selling in 52 countries. In 2016, Emily’s company, Blaze, signed a deal with Santander to have their Laserlight device fitted in all 11,500 Santander cycles! To celebrate this partnership, Santander released a Star Wars-themed promotional video, starring Jessica Ennis, Rory McIllroy and Jenson Button in which Emily has a cameo role.
Find out more about the Santander funding streams which are available to students.