Finance · 5 June 2018

Ideas Mean Business: 24 young entrepreneurs named as Britain’s next innovators

Sylvester Ologbenla has developed a product that uses electrical signals to help athletes recover from injuries

National research agency Innovate UK has named 24 young entrepreneurs as winners of its inaugural Ideas Mean Business initiative, giving a platform to Britain’s next generation of innovators.

Innovate UK launched Ideas Mean Business in late-2017 in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to help young people with exciting, community-focused business ideas reach the next level.

The programme was conceived after YouGov researched revealed a startling gap between the entrepreneurial ambitions of young people in Britain and the opportunities available to access critical funding and mentoring.

According to the study, over half of young people would like to run their own company, yet just 8% are comfortable describing themselves as “entrepreneurial”.

To help more young people from diverse backgrounds (and not in full-time education or employment) break into the seemingly unfriendly and impenetrable world of enterprise, Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust launched Ideas Mean Business to confront access barriers and help a handpicked 24 winners grow their startup.

Innovate UK will offer each winner a bespoke programme of advice, guidance, mentorship and access to financial support up to £5,000.

The winners were unveiled at a launch event hosted by Innovate UK in London, where Ian Campbell, executive chair of the body, championed the potential and diversity on show.

“I’m incredibly proud to announce the inspiring winners of our Ideas Mean Business awards today,” he said.

“In telling their stories, we now hope to demonstrate to other young people from all backgrounds right across the UK that they too could transform an idea into a viable business.”

Among the 24 Ideas Mean Business winners were Sylvester Ologbenla, who has developed a product that uses electrical signals to help athletes recover from injuries, Room for Help founder Stephanie Rolando, whose startup matches individuals looking for help around the home with tenants seeking affordable accommodation, and Adam Root, who was inspired to launch a sustainability-focused design company after an introduction to ocean plastic pollution five years ago.

Take a look at the full list of winners in Innovate UK’s brochure

The Young Innovators, a short film produced by youth lifestyle broadcaster SBTV and voiced by its founder, Jamal Edwards, showcased the Ideas Mean Business winners.

Edwards explained why it was crucial to put diversity at the centre of such initiatives.

“Business in Britain is changing and, today more so than even before, youth is an asset,” he said.

“Most young Britons don’t see running their own company as an option – although they’d like to. Ideas Mean Business is here to transform that; to break down barriers, to show young people that it doesn’t matter where they come from, it’s about where they’re going.

“Ideas Mean Business is about paving the way for a new wave of innovators – ordinary people, with extraordinary ambitions.”

Business Advice highlights

We’ve handpicked our favourite of this year’s Ideas Mean Business Winners.

Innovator: Sylvester Ologbenla

Age: 20

Business idea: Having seen his dream basketball career in the US end, Ologbenla developed a product using pain-free electrical signals to help athletes recover from injuries.

In his own words: “One day, my friend tore his anterior cruciate ligament and has never been able to play sport the same way. When he said he couldn’t run as fast as me anymore, I said: I’ll make something that means you’ll never have an excuse again.”

 

Innovator: Stephanie Rolando

Age: 23

Business idea: Inspired by her struggle to find affordable accommodation in London, Rolando’s Room for Help startup is matching people with a spare room with tenants seeking a place to live.

In her own words: “Our generation is screwed. So many people can’t afford rent, and even if they can they end up in a cycle – paying rent to have a job in London and having a job to pay rent.”

 

 

Innovator: Adam Root

Age: 27

Business idea: Root’s designed company, Inheriting Earth, has a sustainable focus to its products, such as a washing machine filter that will prevent clothing fibres from being drained away.

In his own words: “It’s something that’s really grass-roots. So many people think the problem is too big – I want to help people to feel like they can do something.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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