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From plastic alternatives derived from seaweed to socially-aware robotic companions for people living in care homes, the winners of this year’s Young Innovators’ Awards, announced by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, look set to tackle some of our biggest societal challenges.
Nearly a third of this year’s Young Innovator Award winners, announced this week by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority background. The awards recognise young people from across the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become future leaders in innovation and successful entrepreneurs. This year, 49% of the winners are female; 17% have a disability and the projects cover all regions across the UK. Among the innovators are:
Michael Omotosho (28 years old), born in Lagos, Nigeria and lives in Bradford, West Yorkshire – whose Plugull, an electrical plug pull that makes it easier to remove stiff or fiddly plugs from sockets is designed to help those suffering from loss of dexterity and arthritis
Benjamin Ndubuisi (28 years old), Manchester – who grew up in Nigeria and moved to the UK in 2015, and whose experiences led him to create VING.AI, a secure currency exchange platform for Africans living in the UK.
Abbey Gregg (26 years old), Coventry – who is developing womenswear brand, Myreau, for the modern-day petite women, which uses natural, recycled or deadstock fabrics that have been ethically sourced. Abbey is of a mixed heritage background, Black Carribean and White British.
The Young Innovators Awards recognise young people from across the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Following an unprecedented level of entries, with an 87% increase in applications year-on-year, 64 young people have started the New Year with a boost after getting the coveted award, double the number of award winners/recipients of previous years. With recent research showing over a third of 18 to 34 year olds want to launch an independent enterprise in 2021, compared to 28% of 35 to 54 year olds, it’s even more important the support is available to young people who want to venture into starting a business.
Despite a challenging start to 2021 for Britons, this array of talent brings hope for the future. With ideas ranging from an online marketplace for aspiring lockdown gardeners to sell their home-grown produce, to the use of empty shops on local high streets as Creative Youth Labs to develop young people’s employability skills, it is clear that many of the winners have been inspired by the pandemic.
Commenting on his project and award win, Michael said “It is very easy to attach and use – and great for colour and cable management, with a glow in the dark option for nighttime visibility. I would like the opportunity to grow my business idea and gain the support needed to achieve commercial success.”
Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK says: “With 2020 proving to be an incredibly difficult year, maintaining our focus on Young Innovators was a priority for Innovate UK since finding the great entrepreneurial minds of the future is more important than ever. Working alongside this year’s winners, Innovate UK will help them grow and develop their business idea to make the world a better, and more innovative place. We can’t wait to see what they achieve this year.”
Amanda Solloway Science Minister said: “While the past year has brought significant challenges for us all, it has also shone a light on the best of British ingenuity, with young people across the country harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit to help the UK respond to these challenges.
“From mobile apps supporting our brilliant NHS staff to online mentoring tools helping graduates find employment, the inspiring business ideas we are backing today will help to unleash our next generation of innovators as we build back better from the pandemic.”
Ben Marson, Director of Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust said: “At The Prince’s Trust we know the enormous potential and entrepreneurial spirit of UK young people, even in times of considerable uncertainty. It is more important than ever that all young people, no matter their background, have the opportunity to thrive in work and turn their ideas into reality. Working with partners like Innovate UK allows us to encourage entrepreneurship among young people, and bring diverse ideas and businesses into the economy.”
If you’re an inspiring young innovator, check out how Innovate UK could support you here: https://ktn-uk.org/programme/young-innovators/