An impressive line-up of student and graduate startups were recognised for their achievements at the Student Startups End-of-Year Awards Ceremony on 8th July.
Hosted by the SETsquared Exeter Student Startup team, the virtual event celebrated the hard work of more than 300 students and graduates who have enrolled on the Student Startups programmes since September 2020. A variety of exciting ventures have been developed this year alone, from tech solutions, to food and drink businesses, to social enterprise projects.
Awards were presented by Chris Evans, Director of Regional Engagement in the Innovation, Impact and Business department at the University.
The event also featured Exeter alumnus and entrepreneur Alex Somervell, who gave an inspiring guest speech about his startup journey setting up his business One Third Stories, who create language-learning storybooks for children.
Five nominees for each of the five categories were introduced, before announcing the winners:
Community Impact Award:
Oyana - a social enterprise established by a team of students from Enactus Exeter that aims to empower disadvantaged women in Kwa Murugi, Kenya, by giving them the resources and knowledge to run a handmade soap business and become financially independent.
Most Innovative Award:
Just Surf - founded by Exeter graduate Max Harrington and Michael Shawley, Just Surf is a surf-hire company which partners with local holiday accommodation providers in Cornwall, so that holidaymakers can pre-book surfboards and wetsuits to be delivered direct to the accommodation in time for their arrival.
Most Scalable Award:
Progression CV is reinventing the CV creation process for students by providing an accessible mobile application, which will be launched this summer. Founder Annabelle Percy hopes to on-board universities across the country who can offer the application as a free tool to all students.
Two startups were awarded the Environmentally Conscious Award:
Bazoo - the world’s first and only carbon-negative toilet paper company founded by graduates Sanmarie Grobler and Tom Trow;
Roobarb’s, which turns food products that are on or past their sell-by date into home-cooked vegan meals, which are sold at pop-up food markets in and around Falmouth by founder Daisy Anderson.
The peer-nominated Rising Star Award:
James Tetlow, who impressed his fellow students with his innovative business, Zama Digital, which provides manufacturers with real-time insights from manufacturing equipment using data to improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations.
The judging panel also added two special mention awards to recognise the achievements of two more nominees and their distinctive contributions to this year’s programmes:
Big Idea Award:
Harvey Mitchell, whose project is to develop a bio-reactor that is able to produce BioHydrogen which could be used on a domestic or commercial scale as an alternate energy source.
People’s Choice Award:
Leo Carr, who not only successfully launched his revision resource platform Study Politics alongside his university studies, but has also been a huge supporter of other students and graduates on the programme.
All winners received a £100 prize and keepsake trophy.
Forty people joined the virtual audience to celebrate the young entrepreneur’s achievements, including students, alumni, academics and representatives from external partner Santander Universities UK, who have funded 34 startup grants to University of Exeter students and graduates since September 2020, totalling £37,000.
Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, Professor Lisa Roberts, shared a recorded message to congratulate the students and graduates and highlight the importance of entrepreneurship. She said:
“Our future economy depends on the creation of new business’ that solve real-world problems and that add value to society. The development of entrepreneurial competencies is key to ensuring that we meet this need. In order to develop the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, Universities have an essential role to play in ensuring entrepreneurship is embedded in both curricular and extra-curricular provision.”
Emily Davies, SETsquared Exeter Student Startups Manager said: “The Student Start-up Awards provided a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our students and graduates over this past year.”
“We have seen such creativity, innovation and resilience in our cohorts and have awarded more Grants than ever before to a huge range of exciting new ventures. It's also been exciting to grow and develop our team and our core programmes and it feels an incredibly exciting time for entrepreneurship here at the University of Exeter."