Meet the Imperial entrepreneurs tackling London’s biggest challenges


City Hall and Tower Bridge at night

Scores of students from Imperial have made the semi-finals of the Mayor of London’s annual Entrepreneur Competition.

Since 2012, the Mayor of London's Entrepreneur competition has asked London’s students to come up with viable, sustainable business ideas.  

The programme aims to create growth that makes London cleaner, greener and ready for the future, and to ensure that students see entrepreneurship as a viable career path, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed. 

Out of 140 semi-finalists selected for this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition, 23 are from Imperial College London. The competition is separated into four awards, each addressing a key challenge for London: Environment, Technology, Creative Industries and Health. 

Ben Mumby-Croft, Director of Imperial Enterprise Lab, said: "It's great to see so many of our teams make it through to the semi-finals of the London Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition and testament to the amazing and talented community of student entrepreneurs at Imperial. The competition is guaranteed to be fierce from this point forwards but I’m confident that this year's teams have every chance of building on the success of previous finalists and winners. We wish them the very best of luck!" 

Innovative dye recycling 

Pink colour material in a jar
Image credit: DyeRecycle

DyeRecycle, founded by Chemical Engineering PhD students Aida Rafat and Anton Firth, has been shortlisted for the Environment award for their innovative dye recycling technology that enables the extraction and re-use of dyes directly from the source: textile waste.  

The team was previously part of the College’s 2020 Venture Catalyst Challenge and is now taking part in Techcelerate, a programme that supports Early Career Researchers with their business ideas.  

Streamlining rentals 

Also shortlisted for the Environment award is LendoBox, co-founded by Computer Science student Benjamin Irwin.  

LendoBox is developing technology to make rental products easy to access, providing customers with a combined booking process that includes the rental products alongside current activities - for example, this may be offering camping equipment when a visitor is booking a space at a campsite.  

The team previously took part in the Venture Catalyst Challenge and the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS), the College’s flagship mentoring programme to support innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Eco-friendly nappies 

Cleanest Diapers, co-founded by MBA student Morgan Mixon, was also shortlisted in the Environment category. They are developing environmentally friendly nappies, integrating the latest innovations in materials technology, direct-to-consumer service and recycling. The team was also part of this year’s Venture Catalyst Challenge cohort.  

Wearables to prevent injury 

Scaled's wearable to prevent injuries
Image credit: Scaled

Scaled, founded by Global Innovation Design graduate Natalie Kerres, was shortlisted for the Health award. Scaled is a material innovation company developing custom-fit wearables for athletes to prevent harmful long-term damage from joint injuries.  

The team are currently part of the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service. They were previously part of the Venture Catalyst Challenge and the MedTech SuperConnector, an entrepreneurial training programme for Early Career Researchers. 

Perspectives and creativity 

The competition, delivered by the Greater London Authority, taps into the perspectives and creativity of London’s students to find solutions that will improve their city.   

The 2020/21 competition will see five winners awarded £20,000 to start up their business, along with expert mentoring from staff at City Hall to get their idea to market. The 140 semi-finalists will attend a bootcamp-style training session and receive tips on pitching. They will then create a two-minute video pitch which expert judges will use to select the top six ideas from each category to go through to the final.  

The 24 finalists will then get to pitch their ideas to a panel of celebrity judges and a live online audience, before the five Mayor’s Entrepreneurs for 2021 will be chosen.  


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Events, Entrepreneurship, Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Student-entrepreneurship, Enterprise
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