Category: GrowthBusinessiMayflower

A digital platform for older citizens to decrease social isolation, a certification designed for restaurants to reduce their impact on the environment, a network for vulnerable adults to engage better with the arts and a VR app to encourage healthy exercise - these are just some of the ideas which came out of the innovation-packed Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth Online. Taking place between November 13 and November 15, the event welcomed over people from across the country and abroad, connecting ambitious startup founders and entrepreneurs with local and valuable mentors and investors.

Organised by the University of Plymouth, as part of the iMayflower project, and the Techstars Startup Weekend movement, the event was centered upon supporting the local entrepreneurial community and certainly delivered on its promise, attracting attendees not just from the South West but on an international scale.

During the event, inspired attendees took part in a collaborative challenge whereby seven teams each worked on a complete concept for a product or service which addressed a social, environmental, financial or organisational issue. The winner of this accolade was George Shelton, a PhD student from the University of Plymouth, with his team and their brainchild the ‘Companion Pass’. The Companion Pass aims to make retail and public spaces more accessible to the 9 million dog owners across the UK. The business model would see dogs complete a behavioural test and receive a ‘smart collar’ and certificate (to form the pass) as proof they have completed the test. The Pass would then grant owners access to local venues for one year. With such a strong population of dog lovers and dog owners in the UK, the team saw this as a primed opportunity to improve the world for this captive and profitable market.

As the triumphant team, they were awarded special prizes to help them in their future startup endeavours including a free entry Real Ideas Organisation Connect Membership which enables mentoring plus use of space and facilities, free tickets to the South West Innovation Expo and complimentary consultations with creative businesses like Bull & Wolf Film Co.  

Special Mention was also given to ECO Badge, the eco-conscious accreditation for local food vendors, who impressed Judge’s Lindsey Hall and Stuart Elford so much that they also extended their companies prizes to them; they will be receiving a Real Ideas Organisation Connect Membership and a membership to the Devon and Plymouth Chambers of Commerce. 

Best Health Idea was awarded to Agemotion, the digital platform designed to combat social isolation for older persons and Best Product Idea to the VR app - Virtually Healthy - which would see an uptake in virtual exercise packages.

Given special recognition, The Best Health Idea has been awarded support from the University of Plymouth EPIC project, a research project seeking to help grow eHealth businesses and improve health.

Judging the awards was Stuart Elford, Chief Executive, Devon and Plymouth Chamber, Ben Mundy, Director of Fab Lab Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art and Lindsey Hall, CEO, Real Ideas Organisation.


Commenting on their win, Charlie Fortune, attendee and part of the winning team said: “What a weekend. Intense. Challenging. Insightful. How rewarding it’s been to learn from some inspiring mentors, speakers, entrepreneurs and judges. Over the moon to bring home the Win!! Great fun and lessons learnt with the team, so happy and grateful to The Bridge [University of Plymouth] for hosting this important event.”


Emily Barrett, Knowledge Exchange Officer at the University of Plymouth and lead organiser of Plymouth Startup Weekend said: “I’m over the moon our event went off with the bang it did. We have all been facing a lot of uncertainty this year, but this Startup community is thriving, seeing the brilliance and ingenuity on show last weekend has only confirmed it further for me. 

“Some of the ideas which came out of the event were truly inspiring, and it is clear that the next generation of entrepreneurs have people at the forefront of their minds instead of profit. What we saw was lots of very timely examples of people getting their heads together on how we can make our population happier, better connected and healthier. Events like this have the power to really lift the spirits and bring out the best in people!

“We’ll be keeping up with all of our teams and their journeys. We want to turn the creative spirit we all saw on the day into tangible ideas and outcomes, hopefully the prizes they have won will help them achieve this.”



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