The first cohort of entrepreneurs have been selected to join a new start-up accelerator, BUILD.
The project has been designed to support early stage founders to develop investable ideas which have a positive potential impact on people, planet and profit. It is one of the projects inspired by Leeds City Region’s involvement in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) – a global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth through innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
This first cohort includes businesses from across the region in health tech, ed-tech, agritech, and beyond. Over the course of the programme they’ll be given a safe space to test ideas, develop a scalable business model and benefit from 1-2-1 mentoring.
Projects included in this pilot cohort include:
• /ki-ah-na/ which was founded by Rebecca O’Higgins that is focused on the development of facial recognition software which does not discriminate on the basis of skin colour or gender. Having been inspired by her experience in the cosmetic industry, O’Higgins states she wants “to create a catalyst for change” that ensures no minority groups are underserved by technology and that inequalities are reduced rather than further amplified.
• CEED, an ed-tech business developed by Dr Yasmin Kader in Bradford that seeks to develop a more inclusive school curriculum. A timely concept as Kader explains that as a result of the pandemic the learning gap is widening. Through CEED she aims to create a curriculeum that develops “positive attitudes to learning through creative, digital collaboration”.
• York-based We Drifters, is a producer of anti-insect sleepwear. Naudia Salmon, its CEO states the idea came about when travelling but that the aim is more than just to help travellers and adventurers but to help combat the global challenge of insect borne diseases, donating £2 from every sale to Malaria No More.
• FSMSIA, a business which is looking into developing food and energy security for future generations by exploring the application of bio-ethanol production. Having created a process to produce clean bio-ethanol using potatoes, it believes the opportunity comes from integrating it into existing farming practices.
The scheme also has over 30 experienced entrepreneurs and advisers are on-hand to help founders along their journey, including Joe Gaunt, CEO of HERO, a holistic and data driven wellbeing service, which recently raised investment of £850k from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund managed by Mercia.
Commenting on her involvement in the program Kader the founders of CEED said: “It’s lonely trying to launch a tech start up, the support and connectivity that BUILD offers will be invaluable. I’m delighted to have managed to get on to this amazing programme and am very excited – as well as a bit nervous – to be put through my paces with them!”
Other businesses in this cohort include Liria Digital Health, Carrot Rewards 2.0, PiKon, AgroLyze, Intuitiq, Neo Commonwealth, EV Master, Faraday Drinks, Yondar, Inspirationalleads and Thorpe Hodgson.