The Young Entrepreneurs Challenge

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Competition overview

The Young Entrepreneurs Challenge brought to you by Verizon Business and Unloc is an annual event that seeks to find cutting edge young talent across Europe. Now in its 4th year there’s never been a better time to put your ideas into action and reach for success!

The challenge

Got a great business idea or concept? If you’re 16-25 and have a fresh and innovative technology led idea for a business, or have started one already - then we want to hear from you! Our competition seeks the best young minds from across Europe, young people with vision, social awareness and the ambition to achieve.

Our Grand Prize Winner will receive a £10,000 / €11,000* grant, a mentorship package and pro-bono support to accelerate their business idea or start-up. It’s the opportunity to make your mark, get noticed and put your ideas into action.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

entrepreneurs-working

The challenge

Got a great business idea or concept? If you’re 16-25 and have a fresh and innovative technology led idea for a business, or have started one already - then we want to hear from you! Our competition seeks the best young minds from across Europe, young people with vision, social awareness and the ambition to achieve.

Our Grand Prize Winner will receive a £10,000 / €11,000* grant, a mentorship package and pro-bono support to accelerate their business idea or start-up. It’s the opportunity to make your mark, get noticed and put your ideas into action.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

The prize

One overall winner, selected by our panel of industry experts and entrepreneurs, will walk away with a substantial £10,000 / €11,000* grant to invest in their business, whilst each finalist will also receive a £1,000/€1,100* cash injection.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

unloc-award-1280x720
Video-still

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Unsure if your idea is good enough? Everyone thinks the same thing. Even the most skilled, ambitious and talented entrepreneurs can doubt themselves from time to time. What matters is your passion, your vision and your logical thinking!

Take some of our previous challenge entrants for example, they were all nervous and unsure of their chance of winning, but now are flourishing and running their own successful businesses! Read their interviews where they share their experiences and how they triumphed at the Grand Final!

Meet our winners!

Now in its fourth year, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge has crowned three successful challenge pioneers, each with a unique and outstanding business idea.

Find out more about each of our winners and some of our 2020 finalists.

Rowan Armstrong<br>(Ireland)

Rowan Armstrong
(Ireland)

Our 2020 winner's organisation BioLiberty designed an assistive robotic glove to strengthen grip for those with medical conditions or disabilities, Machine Learning, Biomedical Digital Signal Processing and Advanced Robotics.

Jamie Bankhead<br>(Scotland)

Jamie Bankhead
(Scotland)

Our 2019 winner launched his company Konglomerate Games, a socially aware business specialising in gamified experiences to improve the health and wellbeing of children with long term illnesses.

Alison Wood<br>(Scotland)

Alison Wood
(Scotland)

Our 2018 winner used her win to launch Lilypads, a socially aware business which sells re-usable sanitary products to countries where it allows young girls to continue their education and gain independance.

And our finalists

Tash Grossman<br>(UK): Slip

Tash Grossman
(UK): Slip

Tash created a concept for a smartphone app which digitally stores all your shopping receipts, reducing paper consumption and protecting rainforests.

Imogen Maguire<br>(UK): PowerNow

Imogen Maguire
(UK): PowerNow

Imogen devised a way to enable Electric Vehicle owners to list fees and locations so other drivers can use their charging point.

Jonas Kerber<br>(Germany): Pina

Jonas Kerber
(Germany): Pina

Jonas aimed to digitalise the manual process of forest certification to make it accessible to forest owners, accurately measuring and tracking for more sustainable forestry.

Tyrell Pantophlet<br>(Spain): Plaex

Tyrell Pantophlet
(Spain): Plaex

Tyrell created a revolutionary smart recycling bin that automatically sorts waste for processing and positively impacts the waste chain.

The prize

All you have to do is record a 60-second pitch video on your phone and submit it with your application here to have a chance to win:

  • £10,000/€11,000* of funding for your start-up business
  • A mentorship package to accelerate your idea
  • Finalist runners-up will receive £1,000 of funding for your start-up business
  • Ticket to the Global One Young World 2022 Tokyo Summit in Japan

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

The timeline

1st October

Online competition launch

21st January

Online competition deadline

1st February

Finalists announced

End of February

Grand Final

Competition criteria

Applications will be judged on three key factors:

Viability

Tech innovation

Sustainability

Viability

  • Can the plan achieve what it states it will do?
  • Does it operate within the budget/resources currently held or will acquire?
  • Is the idea investment ready? How will you use the funding if successful?

Tech innovation

  • Is the idea unique?
  • Does it have a clear unique selling point?
  • Is the technology solving the problem in a creative way or filling a gap in the market?

Sustainability

  • Will the venture improve people’s lives?
  • Will it meet social or community needs in a new way?
  • Does it meet or sustain a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)?

Enter - like a boss!

What are you waiting for? Being your own boss and running your own business is a dream many young people have, but unless you try you’ll never know if you can succeed.

It’s time to enter like a boss (literally) and ensure your aims and ambitions become a reality.

working-on-laptop

Enter - like a boss!

What are you waiting for? Being your own boss and running your own business is a dream many young people have, but unless you try you’ll never know if you can succeed.

It’s time to enter like a boss (literally) and ensure your aims and ambitions become a reality.

How to apply

  • Simply record a short video of yourself that’s at least 60 seconds and a maximum of 90 seconds long - remember to explain how your idea meets the three criteria!
  • Hit the apply button
  • Fill out the application form and submit your video
  • Sit tight and wait to hear from the judges: finalists are announced on the 1st February 2022
woman-video-blogger

Rules and eligibility

Applications will only be accepted from:

  • Individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 years on the 1st February 2022
  • Residents and/or citizens of a mainland European country
  • Business proposals must meet the following criteria:
    • Be legal in all mainland European countries
    • Be either a pre-start (not yet trading); or not have been trading for more than 3 years and have an annual turnover
      of less than £100,000 on 1st February 2022
    • Not have the purpose of political lobbying
    • Be the applicant’s own idea and not infringe on the copyright, patent or intellectual property of others
    • Immediate family members of the judging panel are not eligible to apply
    • Previous entrants who attended the Grand Final are not eligible to apply

The challenge sponsors

At Verizon, we create the networks that connect people to the things they love, be it businesses to consumers; work teams to work teams; or employees to charities.

We’re problem-solvers, engineers, technologists, innovators and thought-leaders who create the networks that move the world forward. Networks that connect anything to everything and everyone to anyone. Networks built for innovators, entrepreneurs and anyone with the ambition to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.

Our story has been hundreds of years in the making and today businesses use our award-winning networks to make breakthroughs in immersive retail experiences and virtual fashion shows, through to remote healthcare and building revolutionary factory infrastructures to deliver the promise of the digital world.

Unloc is a social enterprise on a mission to empower young people to be innovative change makers. We strive to encourage entrepreneurial thinking amongst 16-25 year olds and promote alternative career pathways.

Through our wide range of dynamic programmes, academies, and courses, as well as our physical Changemaker Studios spaces, digital offer, and touring roadshows across the UK, we provide young people with the confidence, creativity and skills required to be the changemakers of tomorrow.

Through the Verizon Business and Unloc partnership, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge provides an extremely valuable platform for young people across Europe to promote their creative business ideas, and take their first bold steps into a promising new future.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

We'd love to hear from you!

Get in touch

YoungEntChallenge@unloc.org.uk

Find us on social media: Twitter: @YEChallenge

Meet the winners!

Now in its fourth year, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge has crowned three successful challenge pioneers, each with a unique and outstanding business idea. Read on to find out more about each of our winners, and click the links to read an interview with them to see how they’re progressing since their win.

Will you be the next to join our Challenge Winner Hall of Fame?

Winner 2020
Rowan Armstrong

Rowan Armstrong of BioLiberty was crowned the winner of the 2020 Verizon/Unloc Young Entrepreneurs Challenge. His company specialises in an assistive robotic glove for people suffering long-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and arthritis.

The 2020 competition was stronger than ever, and Rowan fought off strong competition from the other finalists from across Europe to win £10,000 of funding plus a business mentor package during the grand final on 25 February 2021.

Click here to read Rowan’s interview.

Click here to visit the BioLiberty website and find out more about their work.

Winner 2019
Jamie Bankhead

Jamie Bankhead from Dundee in Scotland was our prestigious winner in the 2019 Young Entrepreneurs Challenge, battling stiff competition to impress the judges with his business Konglomerate Games. Jamie’s grand prize win saw him receive funding and a mentorship package to help get his business off the ground.

Konglomerate Games specialises in developing gamified experiences used to help people with long term difficulties. Over the last 18 months they’ve developed their own intellectual property Archipelayo, a video game designed to be used as physiotherapy for children with cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-limiting genetic disease. We’re keeping a close eye on this fantastic business as it develops.

Click here to catch up with Jamie and hear all about his win.

Click here to visit the Konglomerate Games website and find out more about them.

Winner 2018
Alison Wood

In 2018 the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge crowned Alison Wood from Edinburgh our grand prize winner. Alison used support from Unloc to launch her business Lilypads UK, which sells reusable sanitary products in the UK and Kenya, with UK sales subsidising the Kenyan market.

Lilypads now work with organisations around the world training women to set up micro-finance businesses, selling products at an affordable price. This ensures products are available to all who need them within the community. Lilypads currently work with partners in Cambodia, Uganda and Kenya.

Click here to read our interview with Alison and catch up with how Lilypads is doing.

Click here to find out more about Lilypads UK.

Competition overview

The Young Entrepreneurs Challenge brought to you by Verizon Business and Unloc is an annual event that seeks to find cutting edge young talent across Europe. Now in its 4th year there’s never been a better time to put your ideas into action and reach for success!

entrepreneurs-working

The challenge

Got a great business idea or concept? If you’re 16-25 and have a fresh and innovative technology led idea for a business, or have started one already - then we want to hear from you! Our competition seeks the best young minds from across Europe, young people with vision, social awareness and the ambition to achieve.

Our Grand Prize Winner will receive a £10,000 / €11,000* grant, a mentorship package and pro-bono support to accelerate their business idea or start-up. It’s the opportunity to make your mark, get noticed and put your ideas into action.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

The prize

One overall winner, selected by our panel of industry experts and entrepreneurs, will walk away with a substantial £10,000 / €11,000* grant to invest in their business, whilst each finalist will also receive a £1,000/€1,100* cash injection.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

unloc-award-1280x720
Video-still

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Unsure if your idea is good enough? Everyone thinks the same thing. Even the most skilled, ambitious and talented entrepreneurs can doubt themselves from time to time. What matters is your passion, your vision and your logical thinking!

Take some of our previous challenge entrants for example, they were all nervous and unsure of their chance of winning, but now are flourishing and running their own successful businesses! Read their interviews where they share their experiences and how they triumphed at the Grand Final!

Meet our winners!

Now in its fourth year, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge has crowned three successful challenge pioneers, each with a unique and outstanding business idea.

Find out more about each of our winners and some of our 2020 finalists.

Rowan Armstrong<br>(Ireland)

Rowan Armstrong
(Ireland)

Our 2020 winner's organisation BioLiberty designed an assistive robotic glove to strengthen grip for those with medical conditions or disabilities, Machine Learning, Biomedical Digital Signal Processing and Advanced Robotics.

Jamie Bankhead<br>(Scotland)

Jamie Bankhead
(Scotland)

Our 2019 winner launched his company Konglomerate Games, a socially aware business specialising in gamified experiences to improve the health and wellbeing of children with long term illnesses.

Alison Wood<br>(Scotland)

Alison Wood
(Scotland)

Our 2018 winner used her win to launch Lilypads, a socially aware business which sells re-usable sanitary products to countries where it allows young girls to continue their education and gain independance.

And our finalists

Tash Grossman<br>(UK): Slip

Tash Grossman
(UK): Slip

Tash created a concept for a smartphone app which digitally stores all your shopping receipts, reducing paper consumption and protecting rainforests.

Imogen Maguire<br>(UK): PowerNow

Imogen Maguire
(UK): PowerNow

Imogen devised a way to enable Electric Vehicle owners to list fees and locations so other drivers can use their charging point.

Jonas Kerber<br>(Germany): Pina

Jonas Kerber
(Germany): Pina

Jonas aimed to digitalise the manual process of forest certification to make it accessible to forest owners, accurately measuring and tracking for more sustainable forestry.

Tyrell Pantophlet<br>(Spain): Plaex

Tyrell Pantophlet
(Spain): Plaex

Tyrell created a revolutionary smart recycling bin that automatically sorts waste for processing and positively impacts the waste chain.

The prize

All you have to do is record a 60-second pitch video on your phone and submit it with your application here to have a chance to win:

  • £10,000/€11,000* of funding for your start-up business
  • A mentorship package to accelerate your idea
  • Finalist runners-up will receive £1,000 of funding for your start-up business
  • Ticket to the Global One Young World 2022 Tokyo Summit in Japan

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

The timeline

1st October

Online competition launch

21st January

Online competition deadline

1st February

Finalists announced

End of February

Grand Final

Competition criteria

Applications will be judged on three key factors:

Viability

Tech innovation

Sustainability

Viability

  • Can the plan achieve what it states it will do?
  • Does it operate within the budget/resources currently held or will acquire?
  • Is the idea investment ready? How will you use the funding if successful?

Technology innovation

  • Is the idea unique?
  • Does it have a clear unique selling point?
  • Is the technology solving the problem in a creative way or filling a gap in the market?

Sustainability

  • Will the venture improve people’s lives?
  • Will it meet social or community needs in a new way?
  • Does it meet or sustain a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)?
working-on-laptop

Enter - like a boss!

What are you waiting for? Being your own boss and running your own business is a dream many young people have, but unless you try you’ll never know if you can succeed.

It’s time to enter like a boss (literally) and ensure your aims and ambitions become a reality.

How to apply

  • Simply record a short video of yourself that’s at least 60 seconds and a maximum of 90 seconds long - remember to explain how your idea meets the three criteria!
  • Hit the apply button
  • Fill out the application form and submit your video
  • Sit tight and wait to hear from the judges: finalists are announced on the 1st February 2022
woman-video-blogger

Rules and eligibility

Applications will only be accepted from:

  • Individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 years on the 1st February 2022
  • Residents and/or citizens of a mainland European country
  • Business proposals must meet the following criteria:
    • Be legal in all mainland European countries
    • Be either a pre-start (not yet trading); or not have been trading for more than 3 years and have an annual turnover
      of less than £100,000 on 1st February 2022
    • Not have the purpose of political lobbying
    • Be the applicant’s own idea and not infringe on the copyright, patent or intellectual property of others
    • Immediate family members of the judging panel are not eligible to apply
    • Previous entrants who attended the Grand Final are not eligible to apply

The challenge sponsors

At Verizon, we create the networks that connect people to the things they love, be it businesses to consumers; work teams to work teams; or employees to charities.

We’re problem-solvers, engineers, technologists, innovators and thought-leaders who create the networks that move the world forward. Networks that connect anything to everything and everyone to anyone. Networks built for innovators, entrepreneurs and anyone with the ambition to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.

Our story has been hundreds of years in the making and today businesses use our award-winning networks to make breakthroughs in immersive retail experiences and virtual fashion shows, through to remote healthcare and building revolutionary factory infrastructures to deliver the promise of the digital world.

Unloc is a social enterprise on a mission to empower young people to be innovative change makers. We strive to encourage entrepreneurial thinking amongst 16-25 year olds and promote alternative career pathways.

Through our wide range of dynamic programmes, academies, and courses, as well as our physical Changemaker Studios spaces, digital offer, and touring roadshows across the UK, we provide young people with the confidence, creativity and skills required to be the changemakers of tomorrow.

Through the Verizon Business and Unloc partnership, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge provides an extremely valuable platform for young people across Europe to promote their creative business ideas, and take their first bold steps into a promising new future.

* The actual prize fund will be dependent on the exchange rate at time of award.

We'd love to hear from you!

Get in touch

YoungEntChallenge@unloc.org.uk

Find us on social media: Twitter: @YEChallenge