A group of talented young entrepreneurs from West Yorkshire has emerged victorious in the highly anticipated Mayor’s Innovation Prize, a groundbreaking competition aimed at tackling climate change through innovative business ideas. The five winners, aged between 16 and 26, have secured a share of £10,000 in funding to support the realisation and growth of their ventures.

Out of the impressive pool of 78 applicants, one remarkable team stood out as the overall winners. Hailing from Leeds, Michail Marinakis, Maria Papageorgiou, and Elpida A. Dima formed the ambitious “TeamRecuppa.” Their groundbreaking concept revolves around a reusable cup system that aims to eliminate the wasteful use of disposable cups. With their visionary idea, they captured the attention and admiration of the judging panel, ultimately clinching the top prize.

In addition to the overall winners, four other exceptional individuals and groups were recognised across various age categories and for their outstanding idea development. This diverse group of winners exemplifies the remarkable talent and innovation thriving within the West Yorkshire region.

Expressing her immense pride, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin commended all the participants for their remarkable contributions. Brabin believes that these young, brilliant minds hold the key to creating a greener future, and she remains confident in their ability to shape a more sustainable and inclusive West Yorkshire. She emphasised the importance of empowering and nurturing the younger generation, especially as they embark on the journey of building a resilient economy that effectively combats the threats posed by climate change.

Indro Mukerjee, the CEO of Innovate UK, joined in extending his congratulations to all the participants in the first-ever Mayor’s Innovation Prize. Mukerjee firmly believes that tomorrow’s innovations will drive forward not only the economy but also society as a whole. He expressed his pleasure in collaborating with the Mayor on this exceptional program and was thoroughly impressed by the exceptional quality of the entries. Mukerjee eagerly awaits the next steps taken by these inspiring young entrepreneurs as they bring their ideas to life.

Michail Marinakis, the 21-year-old member of TeamRecuppa, shared his thoughts on the Mayor’s Innovation Prize, describing it as an incredibly valuable experience. The competition allowed Marinakis and his team to transform their innovative ideas into a tangible business plan. Following their resounding success, they wasted no time and officially registered their business, ready to take on the challenge of revolutionising the way we consume beverages.

The Mayor’s Innovation Prize was launched in October 2022 with the goal of encouraging young people across West Yorkshire to utilise their unique experiences and perspectives to generate creative solutions for the challenges they face in their communities. The submissions showcased a wide range of ingenious ideas, including biodegradable wheat straws as an eco-friendly alternative to paper straws, an online platform facilitating household composting to minimise food waste, and a real-time traffic update app that offers users alternative, less congested routes to reduce emissions.

Leading up to the announcement of the winners, the finalists received invaluable support from industry experts and established businesses. Through tailored workshops and dedicated mentoring sessions, the young entrepreneurs were equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to refine their ideas and maximise their potential for success.

Among the winners in their respective age categories were Thomas Elliot from Wakefield, whose creation of an insect-friendly garden fence earned him recognition; Matthew Hannah from Leeds, whose business venture Straw Straws focuses on marketing biodegradable drinking straws made from wheat; and Team CompostIt from Leeds, consisting of Husain Alogaily, Jarrad Redhead, Mitchel Green, and Simrun Punjabi, who developed an innovative online platform connecting households with local composters to combat food waste. Additionally, Rebecca Ames from Wakefield received the award for the most developed idea. Her marketing business aims to reduce flooding by connecting landowners, construction companies, and road surface suppliers to facilitate the use of water-permeable paving materials.

As an added honour, the winners have been invited to attend the annual West Yorkshire Innovation Festival, slated to take place from November 13th to 17th, 2023. Now in its third year, the festival serves as a prestigious platform for businesses, entrepreneurs, and experts to showcase and celebrate innovation in various fields throughout the region.

With their exceptional ideas and determination, these young entrepreneurs from West Yorkshire are poised to make a lasting impact in the fight against climate change and pave the way for a more sustainable future. Their triumph in the Mayor’s Innovation Prize serves as a testament to the region’s remarkable talent and unwavering commitment to creating a greener and more inclusive society.