Bright business ideas earn their rewards

Enterprising Edinburgh staff, students and graduates have been recognised for their innovative business ideas.

The University’s annual Inspire Launch Grow Awards reward individuals who have started a new business or social enterprise. They also recognise those who have turned their research into a business opportunity.

The awards were presented at a ceremony on Monday evening (5 June) in the University’s Informatics Forum.

Enterprise contest

Judges selected 18 finalists for this year’s competition, in which a £20,000 prize fund was distributed across four categories.

In addition to the main prizes, each finalist receives a set of professional promotional photos, a pop-up banner and a video about their ventures.

Owing to a record number of social enterprise entries and innovation ideas submitted this year, two new award categories were created. These are the Social and Environmental Award and the Emerging Innovation Award.

Social and Environmental Award

The Social and Environmental Award recognises individuals who have the potential to impact and benefit local communities, environment, specific groups or wider society. The winner receives £5,000 and the second placed entry is awarded £1,000.

The award was presented to James Turing for SolarBerry, a self-financing, community owned offline and off-grid computer lab powered by solar energy. It could help rural communities in Malawi gain better access to educational resources.

This year’s runners-up were Alexandros Angelopoulos and Samuel Kellerhals with Elpis, a solar-powered charging station capable of powering 3,600 phones per month. The charging stations have already been installed across eight refugee camps in Greece.

Emerging Innovations Award

Lissa Herron was named the winner of the Emerging Innovation Award, which recognises research or technology based business ideas with potential.

She receives £1,500 for her business, Eggcellent Proteins, which provides a cost-effective way of producing proteins for research and therapeutic use.

The runner-up was Murray Collins, whose Sigma Tree initiative receives £500. Sigma Tree provides automated mapping of deforestation for companies in the forestry sector.

Innovation Cup

The Innovation Cup celebrates promising business ideas that are based on University research or innovative technologies.

This year’s winners are Dr Andy Herbert, Richard Boyd, Dr Sunay Chankeshwara and Dr Elisavet Makou for their business, Invisius. They were awarded £5,000. Invisius is a next-generation coating material that could help improve the performance of medical devices and reduce healthcare costs.

The runner-up was Douglas Martin with MiAlgae. His company aims to revolutionise the £340 billion global livestock industry by producing high quality microalgal products for use in animal feeds. He was awarded £1,000.

Enterprise Award

The Enterprise Award is presented to staff, students or alumni who have ideas or ventures with outstanding commercial potential. This year’s award was shared between two entries, with each receiving £3,000.

Sam Howarth and Jack Ryder were recognised for with their imaginative clothing business, Bump. They shared first place with Cavid Nadirov for GetGuided, an online platform that connects travellers and travel businesses. It provides unique off-beat experiences led by local guides.

The entrepreneurial talent here at the University of Edinburgh is amongst the best in the UK and this is reflected in the quality of this year’s entries to the ILG awards. The presence of so many successful companies that started here at the University, during the Principal’s term of office, highlights the first-class support that we provide to the student and staff network.

Grant WheelerHead of Enterprise Development, Edinburgh Research and Innovation

Related links

Inspire Launch Grow 2017