Launchpad competition uncovers UK tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow

Posted on 24 Sep 2014 by The Manufacturer

Three young entrepreneurs backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering have won invitations to the academy’s Enterprise Hub after pitching their business ideas in front of the Duke of York.

25-year-old Dr Niall Kent, along with 22 year olds Hind Kraytem and James Popper, presented their ideas in London yesterday to a panel which also included angel investor Sherry Coutu CBE and other business and technology experts.

Dr Kent was named the overall winner for developing Aerograft, a synthetic material that is more effective than existing bone replacements and can be tailored to specific procedures.

He received the JC Gammon Award which saw him awarded Enterprise Hub membership, £15,000 to aid the growth of his start up and further opportunities to pitch to UK business angel groups over the next year.

With bone substitutes used by dentists when a patient is missing bone or when more bone is required for reasons such as facilitating implant placement, Dr Kent hopes Aerograft could facility bone integration in nearly 600,000 dental operations worldwide each year.

The Duke of York, who has supported programmes including the Young Engineers and Code Club initiatives, said investing in young people and their ideas is crucial to the future of the UK.

“If we are to be a prosperous and successful nation we have to invest in young people and young people’s ideas.

“One of the best ways to do this is to challenge them to come up with solutions to the problems that most affect them.”

He added: “Engineering is one of the widest market spheres, yet one of the least understood. We can change that by encouraging young people to deliver innovative ideas.

“The key is giving them the support and mentoring that they need, and the Launchpad competition delivers exactly that.

Ms Kraytem has developed software to improve the accuracy of breast cancer diagnosis, while fellow runner up Mr Popper has pioneered infrared technology to reduce the risk of house fires.

Angel investor David Gammon, the primary benefactor of the award, said engineering innovation is crucial and the age of the applicants is irrelevant when coming up with good business ideas.

“Engineering innovation is at the heart of future economic growth, and it’s vital that we help young, talented entrepreneurs to develop skills in order to take their great ideas to market,” he said.

“The range of talent displayed among applicants proves that age is irrelevant to coming up with good business ideas, and we hope to encourage all of the finalists to realise their entrepreneurial potential.”