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Birkbeck’s entrepreneurial spirit shines brightly at Pioneer 1.0 Awards

Two winners emerge at this year’s annual awards, with a product for the Black Community and an app to support persons who’ve experienced an amputation.

The recent round of enterprise training for participants on the College’s Pioneer programme has come to an energetic and exciting end with six finalists vying for two top places at last week’s Pitch and Awards evening. And the winners are:

Best Business Pitch- Kate Strivens, MSc Global Environmental Politics and Policy, for her business pitch for Afro Cycle Helmet, a Black-owned business designing helmets for children and adults with afro, natural and thick curly hair.

Best Business Idea- Lydia Carrick, BSc Marketing, for her pitch for Apputee, an app designed to guide new amputees through their hospital stay and subsequent recovery, connecting them to a support network of experts and other amputees.

Both excelled with their business pitches on the evening and will receive a £1500 cash prize to support their businesses, along with a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and promotion. Head judge Merlie Calvert, Founder and CEO of legal tech platform, Farillio, spoke of four passionate people (the judges) following six great pitches and the “really tough session picking winners.”

Jenna Davies, Employability Consultant and lead for the Pioneer programme applauded the finalists for rising to the challenge throughout what is a very busy exam period and stated, “Your journeys don’t stop here.”

She added, “The Pioneer 1.0 programme has become a pivotal part of Birkbeck, having supported over 500 entrepreneurial students since it launched four years ago. This year’s programme received more applications than ever and it shows the commitment and drive of our students to make a difference through starting their own ventures.

“Our finalists were all exceptional and will continue to receive support for their ideas. The winning students receive £1500 in funding, access to valuable resources over the next 12 months and will be working with a dedicated business mentor to help progress and launch their businesses.”

The programme had 150 students and recent graduates follow an intensive schedule which begun in November 2020 aimed at developing and strengthening their prospects for success in the business world. Each of them received support to develop their business ideas under the guidance of industry experts.

Spencer Ayres, Founder and CEO of Make Ideas and a former Pioneer Head Judge, delivered this year’s keynote speech and charted his journey, over the past 10-15 years, from teaching to becoming an entrepreneur, by navigating the path with a series of quotes:

  • “Everyone is a teacher”
  • “Change is the only certainty”
  • “Who do you surround yourself with?”
  • “Focus on people and their pains”
  • “Learn from your failures (all of them)”

He spoke of constantly reinventing himself and looking to solve the different challenges that people have, saying, “Everyone is a change-maker” and called on participants, as well as the 70+ people in attendance, to embrace the ability to change things.

Applications for Pioneer 2021/22 will open in September 2021. If you have any queries, please contact the Enterprise team.

Meet this year’s finalists.

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