Funding boost for Scotland’s next generation of entrepreneurs

Lucy Fisher, Robert Gordon University, Knit It

Students to share cash prize of £7500 to develop innovative business ideas

EIGHT students from across Scotland have been recognised for their innovation and outstanding entrepreneurial skills, as the winners of the Fresh Ideas competition are revealed today. 

Hosted by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), more than 240 students from across the country applied to the 2020-21 competition, which is designed to accelerate early-stage ideas and help Scotland’s most ambitious young people to grow an idea into a viable business or social enterprise. 

From a shortlist of 14 finalists, five stand-out students were crowned champions after pitching their idea to a panel of business experts, winning £1200 of funding and dedicated support from business advisors to develop their start-ups.  The winners: 

  • Maria Amorin from University of Edinburgh, who has developed a new filtration method to treat dye-polluted wastewater with the potential to revolutionise the global textile industry.
  • Calum Brodie of Abertay University, who has established BGK Academy – a specialised goalkeeper academy in Tayside providing training and coaching to meet the high demand for goalkeeper training in grass-roots football.
  • Lucy Fisher, a Robert Gordon University graduate, who has created Knit It – an innovative new online platform that will allow knitters of all abilities to take their creativity to new levels in an accessible, fun and easy to use way.
  • Ross O’Hanlon, a graduate of University of Edinburgh, with his start-up company BioLiberty which has developed the revolutionary Grip Assist Glove and digital therapy platform to help patients suffering from hand weakness recover strength and improve their mental wellbeing.  
  • James Swinburne, a student at University of Strathclyde, who has developed a new cutting-edge and user-friendly design for a simpler, stylish and affordable prosthetic hand.

With such a strong calibre of finalists, the judges also awarded three additional students a Judges’ Special Award who will each receive a cash prize of £500 to accelerate business growth. This includes:

  • Sinead Higham, a Queen Margaret University graduate, who has established ACTScotland – a new performing arts school in the heart of Lanarkshire that will fill the gap in accessibility to the arts.
  • Heather Richardson, a student at Queen Margaret University, with Queerativity – an online platform showcasing Queer Art by Queer Creators. It will amplify marginalised voices and act as a positive change-maker in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Rachel Sim, a Robert Gordon University student, with Spruce Homeware – an online retailer providing a wide range of high-quality small business homewares.

Fiona Godsman, Chief Executive of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, said: “The judging panel were all incredibly enthused at the diverse and innovative start-up models brought forward by the finalists, with ideas promoting an inclusive agenda across a wide variety of sectors including healthcare, the arts and technology.

“The winning ideas have reinforced the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that we have here in Scotland.  As Scotland’s longest-running national student enterprise competition for early-stage ideas, SIE has helped nurture thousands of start-up businesses which, in many cases, we have watched flourish into successful firms operating across the globe. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey and we wish all of our 2021 finalists the very best of luck as they venture into the next stage of their business.”

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