MSDUK Innovation Challenge 2017: Providing Opportunity for BAME Businesses in the UK


Innovation Challenge Banner


The 21st September 2017 will see the launch of the Innovation Challenge, a new initiative by MSDUK, the leading national supplier diversity non-profit organisation. This event is sponsored by Cummins and will take place the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.

The purpose of the Innovation Challenge is to provide young and established BAME entrepreneurs with a prospect to obtain funding and support by pitching an innovative product, solution or technology to corporate investors, venture capitalists and angel investors. Two winners will be awarded scholarships to attend one week residential Executive Programme at the Tuck Business School in the USA. These prizes are awarded by EY.

MSDUK is looking for applicants that have innovative product or solutions in a variety of sectors including:

  • Healthcare
  • Fintech
  • Real-Estate
  • Sustainability (Environment, Energy, Conservation)
  • Technology (Artificial Intelligence, Augmented/ Virtual Reality/ IOT, Cyber Security)

Denis Ford, International Sourcing Leader at Cummins Ltd commented: ‘Innovation is a key driver to any sustainable business and we at Cummins see the value that innovation and creative thinking can achieve against any identified problem areas.  The MSDUK Innovation Challenge will bring together some of the inspiring ideas from a great network of entrepreneurs that we already know can deliver and Cummins are proud to sponsor this inaugural event.’

The levels of entrepreneurship among the BAME community in the UK are increasing compared to the rest of the population and the number of ethnic minority start-ups is high compared to other groups.

According to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) the Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA), the rate that measures the proportion of working aged people involved in setting up or running a businesses which is less than three years old, for ethnic minorities this rate is 11.7% compared to people from other backgrounds measuring at 6.4%. However, despite these positive figures BAME businesses often struggle to attract investment, have the appropriate support they need to develop or access opportunities with large organisations.

Farida Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions and Headline Sponsors for the Business Show commented: “While it is encouraging that higher numbers of the BAME community are realising their ambitions and starting up their own businesses, there is always more that can be done to help them and others who have not yet taken the plunge. Entrepreneurship, ambition and passion should not be limited by colour, race or religion, and businesses need to strive towards reflecting the diverse communities in which they exist. At Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions, we successfully partner with our customers to help them reflect the wider community in their supply chain”.

BAME business in the UK are at the forefront of innovative technology, for them to be successful it is necessary that access to markets, investment and know-how becomes available and through Innovation Challenge programme MSDUK is aiming to achieve just that.

Further information and application forms can be downloaded from here.

Application closes on 14th July 2017.