Future leaders in innovation changing the face of manufacturing

Posted on 6 Apr 2022 by The Manufacturer

The Innovate UK Young Innovator’s Awards recognise young people from every region and nation of the UK who have great business ideas and the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Paul Gadd of the UKRI explains.

Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) supports the programme through the delivery of workshops and briefing events. It provides practical business advice to a network of over 8,000 young people across the UK. Hundreds of these aspiring entrepreneurs then apply to the programme and, following a robust evaluation process, 63 innovators have started the new year with a boost after winning the coveted award.

Young innovators look to change the world

The winners of this year’s Innovate UK Young Innovator’s Awards look to tackle some of our biggest challenges, including those faced in the manufacturing sector. The 63 inspiring young winners have been given a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance to cover living costs.

Race to net zero

The race to net zero clearly looms large in these young innovators’ minds. With a wide range of exciting ideas to promote sustainability, it is clear that many of the winners have been galvanised by the environmental crisis. Ideas include:

  • Turning bottle lids into furniture.
  • Creating wearable devices that charge themselves by harvesting energy like body heat.
  • Carbon labels for food that allow people to make selections based on sustainability as well as nutrition. In addition, as we continue to navigate through the pandemic, it too has played a part in inspiring the next generation, with ideas including:
  • WorkLocal, an online app that helps home-based workers discover local pubs, bars and cafes to work from and a micro garden subscription.
  • Little Roots, delivering ready planted containers for urban flat-dwellers, to bring nature to them.

Enabling entrepreneurship and innovation

The Innovate UK Young Innovator’s Awards aims to enable entrepreneurship and innovation among more young people to:

  • Help them bring more diverse ideas and businesses into the economy.
  • Champion innovations for the underrepresented.
  • Provide a platform for gamechangers. Research such as that conducted by McKinsey shows that companies with greater diversity in their leadership teams significantly outperform their competitors in profitability.

Other funding opportunities

Innovate UK smart grants – Jan 2022: UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25m for game-changing and commercially viable research and development innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy. For further funding opportunities, visit UKRI. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 13 April 2022.

Among the innovators looking to make the world a better place are:

Joanna Power, Co-founder of Lylo Products

Joanna Power, (23) from London: Power is Co-founder of Lylo Products and was inspired by the world’s shrinking reserves of water to create a washing machine that uses filtered shower water to help reduce water usage in the home.


Benjamin Gibbons, Co-founder of Circular11Benjamin Gibbons, (25) from Bournemouth: Gibbons is Co-founder of Circular11 which produces building materials for safe, disaster-resistant housing that are pre-designed to slot together in a way that allows anybody to meet international safety standards.


Graysha Audren, Sustainable fashion designer and Founder of WeffanGraysha Audren, (24) from London: Audren is a sustainable fashion designer and Founder of Weffan, which produces fully-fashioned, 3D-woven garments such as trousers, in a single step. By using an innovative, automated loom to simultaneously weave the fabric and the garment, Weffan prevents any fabric waste in the manufacturing process.


Rui Xu, Inventor of FreshTagRui Xu, (28) from London: Xu is the inventor of FreshTag. FreshTag allows consumers to see at a glance whether the food they’ve bought is still safe to eat. The novel pH-sensitive colour coding solution accurately indicates if the food is still fresh even after a sell by date, reducing food waste.


Beren Kayali, is Co-founder of DeployBeren Kayali, (28) from Cardiff: Kayali is Co-founder of Deploy, the firstever foldable and inflatable water tank that aims to tackle water storage problems particularly experienced in poor rural communities. Flat-packed for easy transport, it can be deployed in 24 hours, uses 75% less water than conventional concrete alternatives, and generates 90% less CO2 emissions during transportation.


Sam Whetton, Founder of Reika BagsSam Whetton, (26) from Nottinghamshire: Whetton is the Founder of Reika Bags, a company that makes bags and accessories for travellers and photographers from recovered ocean waste plastic. The company contributes a percentage of their revenue to ocean initiatives and funding their own beach cleans in the UK.


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