Three alumni and current student announced as winners of Young Innovators Awards

Natalie McCormack's textile design.

Natalie McCormack's textile design.

Alumni Tanya Beri, Natalie McCormack, Harish Pesala and current student Flora Boa have all been named in the 2022-23 UK Young Innovators Awards. They have each won in a different category, meaning Loughborough connected winners span four categories for their projects in the Young Innovators Programme.

The UK Young Innovators Awards are run by Innovate UK. The organisation wants to give inspiring young entrepreneurs the opportunity to take their business idea to the next level through the Young Innovators Programme and #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign. 

The programme and related campaign aim to nurture the talents of tomorrow to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges, whilst aiming to build a more inclusive, accessible business landscape and encourage and empower young people from any background to innovate and be successful. 

Selected from hundreds of applicants, the winners will benefit from support for a year as well asa grant of £5,000, one-on-one coaching, and an allowance to cover living costs. 

Natalie McCormack, who gained a BA in Textiles: Innovation and Design in 2021is the winner of the Sustainability & Circular Economy Theme for her project Botanica Textiles.  

The alumna came up with her business idea after learning about the environmental impact of synthetic dyes. Botanica Textiles is a woven design studio which creates 100 percent naturally dyed, organic and biodegradable textile collections. Her next goal is to commercialise natural British dyes for the interiors market by analysing the changes of 50 organic, natural ingredients throughout the year. 

Harish Pesala (MENg Systems Engineering, 2016) is the winner in the Technology Theme for his project Balkerne. Harish co-founded Balkerne, a risk intelligence platform with the goal of empowering law enforcement, insurers, property owners and public services to collaborate and utilise technology to better protect society. The project came from his interest in how society could be incentivised to take proactive measures to reduce the impact of climate change. 

Tanya Beri (BA Graphics Communication, 2016 and MA User Experience Design, 2020) is the winner in the Transport Theme for her project CAIR London. Tanya is a born and raised Londoner and a frequent user of the tube. Research has found that using the London Underground may have adverse effects due to high pollution levels. This prompted the alumna to develop CAIR, a mobile app that generates less polluted routes for users to travel on to ensure commuters can maintain their environmentally friendly habits without having to put their health at risk.  

Flora Boa is a current student of Politics and International Relations. She is the winner in the Beauty Theme for her project Kasaie. Flora has always been passionate about working on projects that combine tech and social innovation. The student, alongside her co-founder, set up the new data analytics and ecommerce platform out of frustration with the black hair care industry. Kasaie offers an artificial intelligence chatbot for virtual consultation and the service provides information and recommendations for products and haircare services.  

Our Loughborough winners make up four of 94 winners in the awards. Find out more about Young Innovators.