Success for alumni at Young Innovators Next Step Awards 2022

Alumni Kate Walker and Benjamin Ndubuisi have been given a further boost to their early-stage businesses by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, through the Young Innovators Next Steps Awards. These entrepreneurs were previous recipients of the Young Innovators Award and have now been awarded a second time, based on their progress and their future growth plans.

The Young Innovators Awards recognise young people, aged 18 to 30, from every region and nation of the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Award winners will each receive a £5,000 grant, living allowance, a package of business coaching, and mentoring from a personal Business Champion. The award enables entrepreneurship and innovation among more young people to help them bring more diverse ideas and businesses into the economy, champion innovations for the underrepresented, and provide a platform for gamechangers looking to make a societal, economic, and environmental impact.

The Young Innovators Next Steps Awards recognises trailblazing young entrepreneurs who had previously been recipients of the Young Innovator Awards, accelerating their business growth to deliver an even bigger impact with each winner given £50,000 to grow and scale their business over a 12-month programme.

Out of the 19 winners, 2 are Loughborough graduates, Kate Walker (Product Design Engineering 2019) and Benjamin Ndubuisi (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management 2016).

Kate Walker is the founder of ExpHand Prosthetics, which designs prosthetics that grow as the individual grows, inspired by her friend’s daughter who was born without a left arm from the elbow. Kate uses 3D printing to create the prosthetics and has plans for a range of colours, at a cost of just £50 per unit. She has already won multiple university, regional and national business awards for her work. She is a member of the Studio, the University’s graduate start-up programme based in LUinc., the Incubator on LUSEP.

Benjamin Ndubuisi is the founder of VING.AI, a brand-new secure currency exchange platform designed to support the African community exchange funds with fellow Africans. The monetary exchange takes place via an escrow engine, allowing individuals to find a match and safely exchange currency at mutually agreed rates. He designed the platform after facing difficulties in transferring currency quickly and securely from home to the UK during his studies at Loughborough University London.

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at Innovate UK said: “It’s one thing to have a business idea and – as so many aspiring entrepreneurs would attest – quite another to make it a reality. These innovative young people have worked relentlessly to realise their ambitions and we are proud of the role we are able to play in helping them on this journey. Their disruptive ideas stand to make a big impact, but their stories are important in other ways too – if they can inspire other young people to come forward and innovate, we will all benefit”.

Innovate UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Indro Mukerjee, said: “Innovate UK is committed to inspiring and supporting the next generation of innovators. We will work to inspire, involve, and invest in their talent to create a strong future economy and society. Congratulations to the Next Step award winners and I look forward to seeing their businesses develop even further”.

Congratulations to Kate and Benjamin, we wish you all the best in the success of your businesses.