Five businesses developed by BU students and graduates to address the climate and ecological crisis have been awarded funding following an open competition.
This is the second year of the Eco-Entrepreneurs Fund which BU launched in 2022 in partnership with Santander Universities UK to seek out and support fledgling businesses with an environmental benefit.
On Wednesday 29 March, the shortlisted business owners delivered their pitches to a panel of judges who awarded grants of between £500 and £2,500.
Lois Betts, BU Sustainability Manager said “It’s exciting to see BU students and graduates applying their skills to address global issues. We need innovation to bring changes to what we buy and the way we live to reduce our impact on the environment. Our students learn about these issues at University, and I’m thrilled to see them applying their knowledge to starting businesses that will make a difference.”
The winners this year include Harry Shepherd, a final year student studying BA (hons) Business and Management whose business Collectea, aims to incentivise and encourage the use of reusable cups to help prevent the 2.5 billion single use cups going to waste every year in the UK. Harry was awarded £1000 to progress his idea and said “Signing up for the Eco-Entrepreneur fund has become such a highlight of my uni experience! It has given me great confidence in my future as an entrepreneur, and has allowed me to connect with some of the super talented entrepreneurs who pitched on the day. The pitching experience and the funding I won has really given me the boost needed to kickstart my career as an entrepreneur, and I will forever be grateful for this experience!”.
The judges were pleased to see two new businesses from students studying sport degrees at BU. Evangeline Beech and Jessie Cotton are working together to develop a device that supports young people to stay calm and support their mental health which was inspired by their own journeys managing the pressures of sport. Kamilla Erdei is a first-year student studying Sport and Exercise Science and has already made the first sale of her swimwear made from recycled plastic and is keen to make her business work B2B rather than using social media which she avoids.
Nick Cooper from Gaia Card, a membership scheme which connects customers with sustainable businesses was back this year. The Gaia team have grown their membership base ten-fold since last year and the entrepreneurs’ received further funding this year recognising the benefit their business has on encouraging retail outlets to be more sustainable through the stringent sustainability criteria set by Gaia to be part of their platform.
Chris Wilmoth is an engineering graduate from BU and the judges were impressed with his ideas for developing farming technology to make sustainable vegetable oil using microalgae.
The funding was provided by Santander UK Universities and the students will have the opportunity to get business support from staff at BU and from The Bournemouth University Social Entrepreneurs Forum.
For more information about the Eco Entrepreneurs Fund please contact [email protected].