The Unloc Enterprise Academy, a programme working with schools and colleges to inspire, motivate and develop entrepreneurship in young people, joined forces earlier this year with global communications & technology leader, Verizon, to launch a new competition for young entrepreneurs across Europe – the Unloc Enterprise Challenge.
The Challenge invited budding entrepreneurs aged 16-25 in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom to submit their start-up business concept online. Five of those submissions made it through to the Grand Final which took place on Wednesday 19th September, to pitch their concepts to a panel of expert judges and over 100 invited guests from the world of business.
Ideas were judged on their creativity, sustainability, and viability, with Alison Wood from Edinburgh taking the top spot and receiving £5,000 of funding, a mentorship package and a technology bundle to help get her social business, ‘Lilypads’, off the ground.
Lilypads will make and sell reusable sanitary products in both the UK and Kenyan markets, with profits from the UK products subsidising the Kenyan equivalent. These products are made from donated second-hand linen, which keeps the cost to the minimum while also helping reduce wastage from laundrettes. Lilypads hopes to use their creative solution to address the issue of 65% of women in Kenya being unable to afford sanitary products, resulting in transactional sex and unhygienic alternatives.
Alison Wood, commenting on her success said “I am simply delighted. The funding and support from the Unloc Enterprise Challenge will make a huge difference in our efforts to launch Lilypads in Kenya. We will continue to work towards ensuring no women or girl is isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable because of her period.”
Each of the five finalists had a maximum of five minutes to present their business idea before being grilled by the panel of judges:
- Ben Dowling, Director of Unloc
- Charlie Oliver, Managing Ambassador for One Young World
- Jo Perrin, Verizon Corporate Communications Director
- David Willsher, Verizon Human Resources Director
“We are delighted to see the impact of our partnership with Verizon at the Grand Final last night and we are overjoyed for Alison and her team at Lilypads”, said Hayden Taylor, Managing Director of Unloc. “All of our finalists were simply brilliant and demonstrated everything the Unloc Enterprise Academy stands for – that you are never too young to lead and be a changemaker.”
“Verizon strongly believes that by promoting entrepreneurship we can promote independence, innovation and success”, said James Montgomery head of HR for Verizon EMEA. “The Verizon team has really enjoyed working on this competition, and was particularly impressed with the quality and quantity of ideas that the competition attracted. We’re looking forward to seeing what Lilypads does next – and indeed, how all the finalists move their ideas forwards. We’d like to thank all the entrants for their passion and commitment to their cause.”
Four other young people made it into the final:
Wassim El Hariri from Berlin, Germany
Wassim’s business is called SASHA “Smart Autonomous System for Hospital Assistance”. It is a totally new and unique fully autonomous mobile robot concept to automate food distribution in hospitals, giving each patient the correct meal on time, while freeing up hospital staff to focus on the patient care.
Danielle Connor from London, England
Danielle’s business is called Pocket Pals. Pocket Pals is a new mobile app that connects people with British wildlife and the environment using their mobile phones. The app will utilise GPS on mobile devices, allowing players to walk and locate digital animals in a range of nature reserves.
Ben Norman from Petersfield, England
Ben’s business is BREWED, a brand that provides organic tea in the form of a natural concentrate which is simply added to hot water. This removes the need for a tea bag, meaning the tea leaves used in the product’s manufacture can be used to create fertilizer for agriculture. The product is healthier for you and healthier for the environment.
Shwetal Shah from London, England
Shwetal’s business is Erase All Kittens. It is an innovative web-based platform game, designed from the ground-up to eliminate the fear that girls have of technology, and to inspire girls to code so that they can become creators rather than consumers of technology.
ABOUT – Unloc
The Unloc Enterprise Academy is a programme run by U.K. social enterprise, Unloc. The Academy’s mission is to enable schools and colleges to inspire, motivate and develop the enterprising mindsets of their young people. Unloc and the Enterprise Academy were established in 2014 by co-founders Hayden Taylor and Ben Dowling, both successful young entrepreneurs working in and around business since a very young age and whom passionately believe in enabling young people to develop their own skills through setting up and testing their own businesses, projects and ideas. Unloc currently has over 100 partnerships with leading schools and colleges across the U.K to whom it provides support in assisting young people both in terms of developing their skills and enabling those who want to find self-employment to do so.
ABOUT – Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York City, generated $126 billion in 2017 revenues. The company operates America’s most reliable wireless network and the nation’s premier all-fiber network, and delivers integrated solutions to businesses worldwide. Its Oath subsidiary reaches people around the world with a dynamic house of media and technology brands.
VERIZON’S ONLINE MEDIA CENTER: News releases, stories, media contacts and other resources are available at www.verizon.com/about/news/. News releases are also available through an RSS feed. To subscribe, visit www.verizon.com/about/rss-feeds/.