Young Londoners bid to be named Entrepreneurs of the Year

A photograph of Mayor's Entrepreneur Programme winners, The Tyre Collective. The four-strong group are stood together, smiling.
18th November 2022

The capital’s brightest young minds will once again be invited to use their creativity to pitch sustainable business ideas in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Programme, for a chance to win a £20,000 prize and expert mentoring from City Hall to get their idea to market.

Launching applications during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the programme aims to create growth that makes London cleaner, greener and ready for the future; and, to ensure that university students see entrepreneurship as a viable career path and get the skills they need to succeed.

As grim studies emerge from climate change experts at this year’s COP27 summit, this competition has never been more important. The award categories for submissions are Creative Industries, Environment, Health and Tech.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

From cleaning up our filthy air to boosting recycling and cutting food waste, I look forward to seeing how London’s student entrepreneurs come up with solutions to help solve some of the serious challenges our city faces.

“London is a global leader in the battle against the climate catastrophe and a magnet for bright young minds from around the world. I’m confident that this combination will generate some truly innovative solutions to help ensure we can continue to build a greener, fairer and more prosperous London for everyone.”

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Programme is unique in that it offers students from all London’s higher education providers the chance to connect, learn together and from each other, and ultimately compete for a top prize. Since inception in 2012, the scheme has directly employed 196 student interns to help spread the word, engaged almost 5,000 students with support to develop ideas and skills, helped to build over 50 businesses and as of 2021 supported past winners and finalists to raise over £26 million worth of investment. 63% of participants have said they feel more likely to pursue entrepreneurship after taking part.

Last year’s winners included a research lab helping develop sustainable, planet-friendly fabrics; a business idea that encourages the next generation to repair, not replace, tackling the electronic waste crisis; and a life-saving wall-mounted kit that contains adrenaline pens for all allergies, along with management and training software, that can be made available in all public spaces.

A stand-out previous winner is The Tyre Collective; a clean-tech company founded in 2020 by Hanson, Hugo and Siobhan from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, who developed a solution to tackle the complex problem of tyre wear with a vision to reduce its impact on the environment.

The rubber “dust” that comes off tyres is calculated to be the second largest microplastic pollutant. Their prototype box sits behind each of a car’s wheels, using electrostatics to attract and gather the dust as the wheels turn. The benefits are twofold: the air we breathe should be cleaner; and the particles gathered can be recycled into new tyres, the soles of shoes or other such rubber products.

The Tyre Collective have since gone on to win multiple industry awards and are now working with leading manufacturers, policymakers and researchers to develop and scale their technology. Most recently, they showcased their business at this year’s COP27 and were recognised in the Mayor of London’s statement.

The programme is delivered by social mobility charity, Mayor’s Fund for London and the Greater London Authority with support from the Citi Foundation.

Jim Minton, CEO, Mayor’s Fund for London said:

“In recent years we’ve had so many outstanding ideas from inspiring young people keen on participating in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Programme. It’s a testament to the creativity and talent of our young Londoners that, over the last 10 years, so many of these ideas have evolved into diverse and innovative businesses and enterprises to make our city a better place. We want this year’s competition to draw in even more innovation and diversity and are working hard to encourage Londoners who might not otherwise think of themselves as entrepreneurs to come forward with their ideas. And we want to engage businesses, universities and social entrepreneurs in helping the young people bring their ideas to fruition – so the young people can generate jobs, upskill the future workforce and, shape a better and more sustainable future for London.”

Rachael Barber, Citi’s EMEA Head of Community Relations, said:

“We are all too aware that the playing field is not level for all young people, and this has only been further exacerbated by the pandemic and cost of living crisis. Entrepreneurship offers young people the chance to reduce these economic inequalities and the opportunity to build successful futures – not just for themselves, but by creating jobs for other young people. That’s why these awards are such an important part of the Citi Foundation’s global Pathways to Progress initiative, harnessing the creativity and drive of London’s students to develop innovative, sustainable business models, whilst also building their capabilities as London’s next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Entries to the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Programme must be submitted by midnight on 12 February via the online application page.

The shortlisted candidates will then shape their ideas with the help of mentoring from business experts, before pitching their final projects to a panel of investors at City Hall in May 2023.