Get to know the 12 entrepreneurs paving their way through innovation
The MSDUK Innovation Challenge is dedicated to improving diversity in entrepreneurship by helping ethnic minority businesses showcase their innovative products and services. This annual pitching competition is an opportunity for us to support forward-thinking companies led by underrepresented founders. The 2023 Innovation Challenge saw a greater gender and diverse ethnic mix with 200+ applications from ethnic minority businesses.
This year’s Innovation Challenge had four categories: Digital Transformations, Social Impact, Innovation Pioneers, and Sustainable Development. Our top three finalists for each category will go through pitching training as a part of the Innovation Challenge programme to prepare them for the finals.
Watch these finalists live at the MSDUK Business and Innovation Show and find out who will take home £20,000.
Meet the Finalists
Digital Transformations Sponsored by: Ernst & Young
Solutions that make processes more efficient and meet changing business and market requirements including automation, data, and analytics, reducing production costs, remote working, SaaS (Software as a Service).
Bloomful | Dupe Burgess | Founder/ CEO www.bloomful.io Bloomful is an AI-driven triage solution that helps women to access better care for their gynaecological health. Whilst doing so, Bloomful’s backend infrastructure collects organised, longitudinal data sets through which Contract Research Organizations, biotech companies, and big pharma can access patients for their clinical trials and data assets to facilitate drug discovery and enable better research in the field.
Beakbook | Giovanni Montefiori | Co- founder www.beakbook.com Beakbook is a weight prediction tool for poultry, specialised in high accuracy. They help farmers anticipate poor growth and welfare and avoid disasters on their farms. Improved planning practices will unlock $500m per year globally for poultry. Since launching in November 2022, Beakbook has gone live in Kenya, Zambia, and Myanmar, and run pilots in the UK. They plan to expand across agricultural goods and pioneer AI-inclusivity for farmers in the long term.
Etiq AI | Iris Anson | Co-founder/ CEO www.etiq.ai Etiq AI recognises that companies in sectors dealing with customer data, especially in the financial sector, struggle with the risks of impartial or flawed decision-making systems which may harm already vulnerable consumers leading to a negative impact on the companies that left their decisions unchecked. As such they have developed an ML/AI risk management platform providing error detection, in-depth analysis, and repair recommendations across the lifecycle of AI data/algorithms.
Social Impact Sponsored by: GSK
Addressing social issues and challenges that will benefit and improve society. For example, products and services within healthcare, education, skills development, diversity programmes, HR, and recruitment.
Beautiful Voice | Andre Hallack | Director beautifulvoice.co.uk Beautiful Voice is a digital health platform that employs AI and gamification to modernise speech and language therapy delivery making high-quality speech and language therapy more accessible, efficient, and data-driven for patients, speech and language therapists, and caregivers.
PoiLabs | Ersin Guray | Founder/ CEO www.poilabs.com PoiLabs is a cutting-edge technology company that provides an inclusive indoor positioning platform for smart buildings. With its unique indoor navigation solution for the visually impaired and blind, PoiLabs creates accessible venues that are open to everyone. In addition to this, PoiLabs offers digitalisation services for physical spaces by providing indoor navigation, indoor analytics, and location-based marketing services.
BetterShared | Swakara Atwell-Bennett | Founder/ CEO bettershared.co BetterShared’s diverse art rental solution provides a measurable and scalable approach that creates a sense of belonging for all. Their innovative service enhances employee well-being, workplace satisfaction, and fosters innovation, while also attracting and retaining diverse talent who feel acknowledged and welcomed. By providing a long-term and an authentic solution to inclusion, BetterShared helps to create a workplace that values diversity and celebrates creativity.
Innovation Pioneers Sponsored by: J.P. Morgan
Open to any founder and entrepreneur who believe that they are challenging the status quo with their highly unique innovations. This category showcases Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMBs) that are trying to transform the sector/s they operate in and challenge traditional out-of-date methods/processes.
Gusto Snacks | Claudio Owusu | Co-founder snackgusto.com Gusto Snacks is an award-winning ethical focused company that uses farm-rejected fruits to produce delicious and healthy snacks to act on food waste. The business act as a bridge between farmers and consumers, improving the economic output of farmers by re-introducing the rescued produce to the market using innovative snacking prepositions.
Healthy Air Technology | Chunli Cao | Co-Founder/Managing Director healthyairtech.com Healthy Air Technology LTD specializes in air purifiers that improve global indoor air quality. Leveraging their unique and patented DNO-Catalyst technology from an Oxford University scientist, expertise in aerodynamics, and building design, the company creates innovative air purification solutions. Furthermore, Healthy Air’s technology effectively removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that other purifiers cannot eliminate, ensuring a cleaner and safer indoor environment for its users.
Nyfasi | Youmna Mouhamad | Founder/ CEO nyfasi.com Nyfasi’s technology enables the application and distribution of consumables while detangling. Their technology has various applications, including the hair care industry, the pet industry, and disabled individuals. Their first product, the Deluxe Detangler, targets the textured hair segment which includes curly and afro-textured hair. Additionally, it was endorsed by Dr. Zoe Willams from ITV’s This Morning and Felicia Leatherwood, Hollywood’s number 1 hairdresser.
Sustainable Development Sponsored by: Cummins
Focusing on improving the environment/s we live in. For example, generating less waste, upcycling and recycling plastics, addressing climate change, using natural resources sustainably, and working with communities to improve habitats and surroundings.
Cauli Ltd | Josephine Liang | Co- founder/CEO www.wearecauli.com Cauli is an award-winning climate tech startup that provides reusable food & beverage packaging solutions for workplace and event dining to eliminate 65MT of single-use packaging waste and disrupt the $405B global food packaging market. Cauli’s software and solution enables over half a million catering operators worldwide to run their own circular packaging systems onsite while they retain full control over operations.
Concrete4change | Michael Wise | Co-founder/ Chief Technology Officer www.concrete4change.com Concrete4Change is developing a novel technology for safe and permanent carbon dioxide sequestration into concrete, helping concrete manufacturers and the construction industry achieve net zero. Concrete can naturally absorb CO2 – this process is known as carbonation, but it can never reach to full potential in nature. With C4C technology, Concrete4change exploits this potential enabling concrete to become the safest form of CO2 sink in the world. Even after the demolition of concrete, CO2 will not leak. They achieve this via a specially designed, proprietary, and low-cost porous granular absorbent material acting as a carrier for CO2.
Aeropowder | Ryan Robinson | CEO/ founder www.aeropowder.com Aeropowder is a material innovation company that is revolutionising the circular economy by transforming surplus feathers, generated in millions of tons around the world, into high-performance materials. Their initial product, Pluumo, is a thermal packaging material that outperforms expanded polystyrene allowing the delivery of temperature-sensitive food and pharmaceuticals to be made without using plastic thermal packaging. Aeropowder is proud to be at the forefront of innovation in waste reduction, sustainability, and the circular economy and looks forward to continuing to create unique feather-based solutions for global impact.
MSDUK would like to thank the headline sponsor Accenture and category sponsors Cummins, J.P. Morgan, EY,GSK and Haleon for supporting this year’s competition. The growth and popularity of the MSDUK Innovation Challenge would not have been possible without your continuous support.
“Without MSDUK it would probably be a lot harder in terms of business-to-business sales functions because MSDUK gave us access to get our first client, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and from there we were able to snowball.”
FOUNDER & CEO THE CHEEKY PANDA
An Introduction to MSDUK.
“The MSDUK Innovation Challenge not only helped me personally; but included Kapsule in a supportive community. In that community we found our assumptions challenged, ideas stress tested, and received invaluable advice. That’s the power of #Diversity!”
Since 2006, we have been at the forefront of driving the supplier diversity movement in the UK. Align with organisations dedicated to supplier diversity and become a part of the MSDUK community. As a member, you will connect with a network of corporate leaders who, are committed to empowering ethnic minority businesses. The companies below represent just a glimpse of our extensive corporate network.