A smart bin that sorts waste automatically, a mentoring network boosting access to quality education for African youth, and Rapid test kits to detect harmful pollutants in water have all been named the winners of the University of Edinburgh’s annual enterprise awards for students and recent graduates.
The three startup businesses were announced at the Inspire Launch Grow 2022 Awards run by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, which celebrates the ambition, resilience and accomplishments of its entrepreneurs.
They were selected by an expert judging panel from a shortlist of 13 finalists across three categories, with each winner awarded £5,000. In the Emerging Innovation category, which recognises the potential of businesses, social enterprises and ideas that are at an early stage, the winner was recent graduate Matteo Cese with his business Cexal Ltd. Cexal is developing home test kits to detect contaminants and pollutants in water to ensure that drinking water is safe.
It feels great to win and makes me feel even more committed to push further. It’s really important that we get this technology out, so we can’t rest on our laurels now.
The Impact Award, which honours non-technical enterprises with a focus on change for the common good, was won by Business School graduate Farai Munjoma for his platform Shasha Network, which offers essential entry-level career development services for post-secondary African youth looking to kick-start their careers.
This is the dream. Beyond the prize money, this award is a symbol of how people can achieve their goals and pursue their ambitions. Edinburgh Innovations has been instrumental for me: from access to resources, support and grants, to helping me through my visa application process, EI has been there.
Artificial Intelligence PhD student Jonathan Feldstein took the Growth Innovation Award for technology-based businesses at launch or pre-launch stage. Jonathan’s company Bennu.ai has developed a smart bin that sorts waste automatically to increase the amount of waste that is recycled and lower waste management costs.
Feedback and support from Edinburgh Innovations has been important throughout, so receiving this recognition of the company’s viability, growth potential and market fit feels really good, especially as the competition was so strong. And I think my accountant will be happy!
This year saw the introduction of ILG’s Moving Mountains Micro Awards, which encourage equality, creativity and storytelling in two new categories. The Edinburgh Collective, a creative network, won Creative Enterprise of the Year, and Whatever Next?, which highlights and amplifies the voices of adoptees, was awarded Best Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Initiative. Both winners were notified ahead of the event and each received a prize of £500.
Teodora Handrea, Lead Enterprise Executive at Edinburgh Innovations, said:
We are incredibly excited to recognise the best student startups of 2021-2022 at the Inspire Launch Grow Awards, and to celebrate their resilience, ambition and accomplishments with our wider enterprise community.
Congratulations to all the finalists and winners, we are so proud of what you have achieved and we will continue to be your supporters, both while at the University of Edinburgh and beyond. Well done!
The awards took place in person for the first time since 2019, at the Potterrow Dome on Thursday 9 June. Each finalist team made a one-minute business pitch to an expert panel of judges before the winners were announced. All ten runners-up received £500, and all finalists received their choice of either a photography package or pitch deck to help promote their businesses.
The judging panel included enterprise experts such as Claire Ann Banga, CEO of eMoodie Ltd, David Saunders, Ecosystem Manager for Barclays Eagle Labs at CodeBase, and Gauthier Collas, Co-founder of Lemon.
Past winners of Inspire Launch Grow include 2021 Impact Award winner Bioliberty, which is developing a lightweight robotic glove that strengthens grip and provides rehabilitation to people with mobility issues. The company also won a Scottish EDGE Wildcard award in the same year.
Student Enterprise at the University of Edinburgh continues to go from strength to strength, providing a comprehensive suite of support services for students and launching a record-breaking 100 startups in the last academic year.