Business School student Zwelakhe Gila won the People's Choice Award

Student and graduate entrepreneurs ‘striving to make a positive impact’ celebrated at Student Startups Awards

A sustainable chocolate start-up, an app to monitor flood resilience and an A-level politics revision platform were among the original and inspiring business ideas celebrated at the Student Startups Awards.

The virtual event, hosted earlier this month by the SETsquared Exeter Student Startup team, was the culmination of another successful year for the University’s Startups programmes, with 34 grants awarded totalling £40,180 and more than 900 engagements with students, graduates, strategic partners and the wider community.

The student entrepreneurs were hailed for building ventures that strive to make a positive impact in communities and wider society, with other winners including a community-focused coffee outlet launched in lockdown and a social enterprise that provides a solution to the lack of uptake for company charity days.

The awards were presented by Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared Exeter, and the event featured a guest speech from Exeter alumna Dr Natalie Whitehead, who shared her story of setting up Exeter Science Centre, and talked about the power we have as individuals to make a positive difference.

Social Impact Award

Ellie Llewellyn, Graig Coffi – Ellie’s community-focused small business was launched in lockdown and has raised money for various charities, including over £1,000 for pancreatic cancer through a virtual raffle, which she organised when her best friend’s father became terminally ill.

Environmental Impact Award

Ant Wilson, Push Chocolate – The idea behind this start-up is to create chocolate that is healthier and better for the environment, made from sustainably sourced cocoa, vegan and palm-oil free all packaged in a plastic-free, recyclable pouch.

Most Innovative

Lewis Seale, You Inspect – This tool allows insurers to monitor property flood resilience through homeowners completing their flooding inspections independently through an app and relaying this information back to their insurance provider. It seeks to create a fairer insurance market for the 7 million UK homes at risk of flooding who want to access affordable home insurance.

Next Big Thing

Leo Carr, Study Politics – This online A Level revision platform was set up two years ago and is now a successful education website used by over 500 students with the potential to grow further by applying the business model to a range of subjects and education systems across the world.

Rising Star Award

This award celebrating emerging entrepreneurial talent from the 2020-21 programme cohorts went to Molly Bevan, whose Impactic Volunteers social enterprise provides a unique volunteering experience for employees to use their ‘charity days’ to upskill on analytics tools, whilst helping a charity overcome its data challenges and achieve its goals.

People’s Choice Award

The award that recognises a student who has made a large and positive contribution to the Student Startups Programmes was won by Zwelakhe Gila.

Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award

Charlotte Strohkendl was the winner of an award that recognises an individual who has shown true entrepreneurial spirit through their engagement with the Startup programmes.

IKEEP Outstanding Student Award

Alicia Shelford was presented with an award for her outstanding contribution to the IKEEP intrapreneurial pathway through her placement with Exmoor Distillery Ltd where she demonstrated outstanding leadership, organisation and team working.

All the winners received a £100 prize and a trophy.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, congratulated the students and graduates in a recorded message highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship.

Professor Roberts said: “The University of Exeter recognises the importance of entrepreneurship education in preparing its students with the skills and experience required for the future workplace. We are proud to offer a wide range of curricular and extra-curricular activities across our Colleges and campus’.”

“It is exciting to see so many of you building ventures that are purpose-led and that are striving to make a positive impact - in your communities, for the environment and in addressing social and economic inequalities.”

Mike Shore-Nye, the University of Exeter's Registrar and Secretary, said: “The Student Startups Awards were fantastic. There were some great and inspiring stories and many exciting new ventures being built. The team did a great job and congratulations to all involved.”

Watch the full recording of the ceremony here, and view the edited highlights reel.

Date: 21 July 2022

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