Finalists will compete in this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Challenge showcase in a bid to win £10,000/€12,000

“With the current challenges in the technology sector and reduced startup funding across the EMEAregion, dragged by inflation, higher interest rates and geopolitical events, programs like the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge are even more important to ensure we continue to support and nurture budding entrepreneurs.”

This year saw 100 competitive entries from a broad range of countries across Europe including the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Finland and Greece. These entries were narrowed down to five finalists.

“It’s inspiring to see somany new and innovative business concepts in the areas of sustainability, climate change and healthcare, and we’re proud to play a key role in helping scale these ideas.”

The five finalists now compete for the grand prize during a live event on March 7th where they will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that includes former Grand Prize Winner JamieBankhead, as well as guests in business and education. The grand final will be live-streamed on LinkedIn.

The top winner receives a whopping £10,000 Grand Prize, mentorship, a technology support package to help kickstart their business proposal, and a trip to the One Young World 2024 Global Summit in Montréal, which brings together many of the brightest young leaders from over 190 countries and more than 250 organisations.

Each runner-up will receive £1,000 to fund their start-up business, a personalised development plan that focuses on key priorities, and access to a series of masterclasses overt he next yeart hat will pair the finalists with various industry experts.

  • Sanjiv Gossain, Group VP & Head of EMEA, Verizon Business
  • Ella Robertson-McKay, Managing Director, One Young World
  • Piers Linney, Formerinvestor on Dragons’ Den, Co-founder: Implement AI, Adviser & Speaker
  • Jamie Bankhead Previous YEC Winner & CEO of Konglomerate Games
  • John Williams, Marketing Director & CMO – EMEA & APAC, Verizon Business

Phytavaren Technology, a Prop tech startup in London, specialises in building thermal dynamicsR&D with passive design and developing eco-friendly building materials and other low-energy construction materials by integrating architectural solution design to address thermal regulation, carbon sequestration and structural integrity in construction. The Interlocking Semi-Calcite PassiveBrick (ISCPB), Phytavaren Technology’s flagship product, has been recognised by prestigious and global awards in innovation, sustainability, and real estate of a product that is making a significant impact on the industry transition. ISCPBis a sustainable construction material with eco-design integrated with thermal dynamics to use less electricity to regulate building temperature.

The ISCPB re-engineers common waste from the ocean as a sustainable construction material that can make the building temperature independent from the outside temperature. ISCPB helps consume less electricity by regulating the building temperature through its insulator properties. This enables the company to save more energy and makes the construction process faster, safer, and more eco-friendly. With thermal properties benefits, Phytavaren Technology is lowering the workload of the HVAC system and energy consumption in buildings through passive and eco-design to make the building energy efficiency more resilient.

Lung cancer accounts for over a fifth of cancer fatalities annually. With approximately 38,000new cases diagnosed annually, it is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. This is due to ineffective screening processes and delayed symptom recognition associated with lung cancer detection. Devi’s solution, Pulmo Guard Pro Scan, is a novel breathalyser intended for both routine GP exams and high-risk individuals (e.g. smokers, exposure to environmental pollutants) to determine lung cancer susceptibility.

It analyses volatile organic chemicals and biomarkers in exhaled air, such asmiRNAs, isoprene orNNK, which are linked to lung cancer risk. Early detection is aided by the device’s rapid and non-invasive results. Due to Pulmo Guard Pro Scan’s user-friendly design, this facilitates widespread, seamless integration into standard GP procedures.Healthcare providers and patients can take proactive preventative steps that align with the evolving nature of personalised medicine. The Pulmo Guard device stands out by offering a distinctive solution that tackles the challenge of detecting lung cancer at an early stage and reducing NHS costs associated with lung cancer, which currently costs the UK economy £2.4 bn each year.

The relatively low production cost, its mobile nature and its ability to be re-used makes Pulmo Guard a device which is accessible to healthcare workers around the world, including doctors, and can be easily introduced into routine checkups. This will promote good health and well-being and reduce inequality as individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds would have access to preventative care.

Introducing “The Swirl.” – one of the first truly bladeless hydro generators that harness the power of the
vortex effect, setting it apart fromconventional generators. Crafted fromrecycled plastics using 3D
printing technology, Swirl. operates withoutrotating blades. The innovative bladeless design of Swirl.
eliminates perpendicular obstacles for passing biomass, and its rotating systemfollows the water stream creating a safe passage for fish and other biomasses through the middle section, all while generating sustainable power.

Designed for easy assembly by a single person, Swirl requires no heavy machinery, featuring components compressed into flat packages for convenient transport. Swirl. is an ideal choice for individuals seeking a greener future through their own sustainable energy source -requiring only a small stream of water. The Swirl. is sustainable as it aims to support the commercialisation of clean energy sources for eco-conscious individuals or those in need of a green backup source. Furthermore, the product is made of recycled materials, aiming to support the current green shift and make green energy more accessible worldwide.

Eye disease screening programs worldwide are not performing well enough, which is causing millions around the world to go blind. From his research work with NASA astronauts, Ethan found a way to use Generative AI to allow the eyes of astronauts to be better monitored while in spaceflight, where limited imaging equipment exists.

Ethan is bringing this same technology to Earth withAngioGenius, an app where anyone can take a photo of their eye at home to help detect and monitor eye disease progression.

Solar Optic is a hybrid sunlight system that utilises advanced optics and a sun-tracking mechanism to
provide natural illumination indoors. The system concentrates sunlight on the surface of the lens and the light beam is guided through a polymer optic cable. Similar to normal lamps, Solar Optic diffuses sunlight from cables inside the building.

Solar Optic does not convert heat into electricity like solar panels do, which is how the solution avoids losses of energy and achieves high-efficiency illumination inside the building. The Solar Optic system works together with artificial light, compensating for the missing light when there is not enough sun outside. High electricity prices and carbon taxes are forcing organisations to think about the implementation of sustainable solutions. Solar Optic technology has a potential application in various markets such as schools, warehouses and supermarkets.

It’s now been several weeks since Nick Cotter was crowned the Grand Prize Winner of the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge! Each year, Unloc and our partner Verizon seek out the best of fresh young business talent from across Europe.

The Winner receives £10,000 funding for their business idea, a mentorship package, support, and entry to the One Young World Global Summit.

Nick, from Ireland beat amazingly fierce competition from the other finalists, and impressed our judging panel with his idea for a system for livestock farmers to better use anti-parasitic drugs, reducing the impact on biodiversity, bringing down costs and preventing parasitic resistance. 

We caught up with Nick to hear about how things are progressing and how we found the overall experience of entering the competition.

Nick, again congratulations on your win! You did an amazing job at our Grand Final. For those that missed it, introduce yourself and tell us about your business idea!

“Thanks! I’m Nick Cotter, and i’m the co-founder of Cotter Agritech, we are a Limerick-based start-up, founded by myself and my brother Jack. We have a vision to dramatically reduce chemical use in agriculture while improving productivity and profitability. Our company has developed a system that uses advanced algorithms to enable livestock farmers transition from blanket treating animals with anti-parasitic drugs, to a very precise application – by identifying and targeting only the animals that need treatment. 

This approach reduces anti-parasitic drug use by up to 50%, which reduces costs, prevents against parasite resistance, and reduces impacts on biodiversity. We concluded research trials in 2021 with UCD, QUB, and 18 commercial farmers across Ireland and the UK, which has validated our solution. The hardware and software products are now being launched in Ireland and the UK at the LAMMA agri show in Birmingham this week 4th-5th May 2021”.

That’s so exciting! We wish you every success with the launch this week. What made you think the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge was the right competition for you to enter?

“It’s a very prestigious European competition. You just have to look at the previous winners and where they have gone since to see the quality of each year’s entrants. 

I expected it to be highly competitive (which it indeed was!) but I thought if we could tell our story in a compelling manner, that we had every shot of winning the grand final. We also thought that if we could get access to Verizon and Unloc’s expertise through this competition, that it would accelerate our development and move us forward.”

The final was quite a nerve wracking event, how did you feel in the days beforehand?

“We felt both tense and excited in the days leading up to it. We were hard at work prepping the pitch and doing mock Q&A’s to be ready for anything the judges might throw at us. I believe the work is done in training, so we really focused on that to be well prepared for the final.”

How did you find the Grand Final and delivering your pitch to the panel?

“By the time the final came around I was reasonably relaxed to be honest, as I knew we had done everything we could do in the days before to prepare ourselves and give the best chance of success. 

The pitch is very tight at 5 mins – but it’s a great exercise to condense your idea, and put focus around it. The panel was testing but we have been working on this for 2 years now so we know our idea inside out, and I was able to answer the questions confidently and concisely.”

Were you shocked when you were announced as the winner?

“To even be shortlisted for the final was a huge honour, so to win was an absolute bonus. I couldn’t believe we had won, it was just unbelievable. The quality of the other 4 finalists was very high – medtech, sustainable clothing, the other ideas were very current and relevant to the challenges of the current global climate. 

As an ag-tech startup it’s a very important award from a support point of view. Agriculture is under significant pressure to become more productive to feed the projected 10 billion people by 2050, and to also meet ambitious sustainability targets. 

It’s a huge boost to have Verizon and Unloc recognise the innovation ongoing in Agriculture, to shine a light on it, and support this type of innovation. It’s a huge vote of confidence in sustainable animal production. 

We are just over the moon, and so proud of the thousands of hours this team has put into bringing this to fruition.”  

It was so well deserved, truly. How are you investing your £10,000 prize funding?

“We have invested it in the production of video testimonials with test farmers who used the solution in 2021. We just recorded them recently, and they will be published alongside our launch at the LAMMA show this week. So the funding has been of huge immediate value in kickstarting our launch and accelerating uptake and adoption, and we’re very grateful to Unloc and Verizon for their support.” 

What are your ambitions for Cotter Agritech and where would you like to see the business go in the future?

“We want to operate on a global scale – we’ve chosen to solve a global problem so the ambition is to make our solution accessible to all sheep farmers around the world to deliver this value to all farmers, and eventually move onto solving the same problem for cattle and goat farmers too. 

As someone who grew up on a sheep farm, there are a lot more problems to solve and we just see these as opportunities. So I see Cotter Agritech becoming an industry leader in animal agtech, solving more problems for livestock farmers to help them become more productive, profitable, sustainable and viable going forward.”

We will be monitoring your progress closely! What would you say to any other aspiring young people out there considering entering this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Challenge?

“Just go and do it – enter, because the sooner you find out whether it’s a good or bad idea, the sooner you find the right idea, and the sooner you can have an impact and achieve your ambitions. It’s just a fabulous experience to be a part of. 

Startups go through 6-7 life and death moments every year, and some even every month, so awards like this are of huge value in terms of being undeniable achievements that you can’t deny from yourself, and you can look at them and they will give you the confidence to go with the idea, and keep moving forward.”

Nick, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, good luck with everything at the LAMMA launch this week, and we shall catch up with you again so check on your progress!

For more information about Cotter Agritech, their business and the products they supply, click here.

Could you be our next Winner? 

Keep an eye on our News page for the latest news and information on the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge as and when it becomes available. 

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