Innovate UK announces South West Young Innovators Awards winners

Innovate UK sq

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has announced the winners of the 2021/22 Young Innovators Awards, including six entrepreneurs aged 18-30 from across the South West.

Each winner will receive a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching from Innovate UK EDGE, and an allowance to cover their living costs.

The Young Innovators Awards, delivered by Innovate UK and the Prince’s Trust in partnership, recognises young people from diverse backgrounds who have great business ideas and the potential to become future leaders in innovation.

Innovate UK has allocated £2.2 million to the programme over three years to help young people develop their innovative ideas and tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.

“Diverse teams, with people from different backgrounds constructively challenging each other, are fundamental to breakthrough innovations,” says Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK.

“This makes the UK’s population diversity a potential competitive advantage, so we will continue to work hard to fully harness this potential.”

Innovate UK EDGE South West will allocate an Innovation Champion to each award winner, who will help them to transform their research and ideas into tangible market value.

The six South West winners are:

Eva Gilder-Hodgson (Bristol)

Eva’s business, Bristol Plastic Factory, fashions furniture and homeware products using shredded and heat-pressed bottle lids.

By setting up community drop-off points and recycling systems, she hopes to spark a circular design process in Bristol.

Albie Baker-Smith (Bristol)

Albie is developing a software platform to help anyone fight climate change by growing trees on small pieces of currently unused land.

His business, CarbonRoots, is currently running a small pilot project in Ghana, whilst also working with UK companies seeking to offset their carbon footprint.

Antonia Gillett (Gloucestershire)

Antonia’s business, Felsie, aims to make use of the millions of Salmon skins currently thrown away in the UK every year by turning them into leather. She has started by producing salmon leather wallet prototypes.

Joe Garrett (Dorset)

Joe wants to help households reduce their carbon footprint through his product, AuraGen, a wind turbine designed for domestic use.

The vertical axis wind turbine is currently being perfected in conjunction with his Final Year Project at the University of Birmingham.

Benjamin Gibbons (Dorset)

Benjamin’s business, Circular11, aims to raise the standard of housing across South and Southeast Asia. The company will produce building materials that are predesigned to slot together in a way that allows non-specialists to meet international safety standards.

Jess Strain (Bristol)

Jess is utilising waste fabric, dyed with locally-foraged plant matter to develop hats, tote bags and soft furnishings. She aims to offer an alternative to large apparel brands that provide little transparency on where fibre has been grown, spun, woven and processed through her brand Ovrbloom.

With the help of her Innovate UK EDGE Innovation Champion, Jess now aims to define her manufacturing process, prototypes and reporting methodology. “I want to open the discussion with consumers and enable them to demand more of the high street giants,” she says.

Innovate UK EDGE will deliver mentoring support over the next twelve months and provide the Young Innovators with access to the wide range of skills and services available from the Innovate UK EDGE expert community.

Pictured clockwise from top left: Eva Gilder-Hodgson, Albie Baker-Smith, Antonia Gillett, Jess Strain