Quartet of Scottish inventors to secure share of £1.3m prize pot after being honoured in UK-wide awards

Four entrepreneurs from Scotland are sharing in a £1.25 million prize fund after being named among the latest winners in an initiative to catalyse innovation among young people.

The quartet – whose specialisms include a body-powered bionic hand for amputees to using onion skin instead of single use plastic waste – have been unveiled today by Innovate UK, the UK’s Westminster-backed innovation agency, as Young Innovator Award winners.

The latest round of the competition saw a 25 per cent year-on-year jump in the number of applicants to reach almost 700, with Innovate UK adding that the “exceptional” standard of ideas led it to award in excess of 50 per cent more winners this year, making this the largest cohort of Young Innovators to-date.

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The Scotland winners join a 94-strong cohort aged 18 to 30 with business ideas “that could change the world” and will each benefit from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching, and an allowance to cover living costs. Martina Tuskova (29), from Paisley has created Eco Devana that makes non-slip reusable period pads with a view to to ending period taboos, for example, while Renuka Ramanujam (28), from Oban is developing Huid, a material innovation that uses onion skin instead of single use plastic waste, working in collaboration with universities to improve and test the material.

Among the Scottish winners is Fergal Mackie who has developed a body-powered bionic hand. Picture: contributed.

Richard Campbell (28) from Edinburgh is creating a barrel-aged, non-alcoholic whisky, currently in its early stages, which will be barrel-aged for the same length of time as traditional whiskies, and Fergal Mackie (aged 25), from Edinburgh, has developed Metacarpal – a body-powered bionic hand to give those with upper-limb amputations a better experience, using no electronics.

Mr Mackie said: “Being from a technical background with next-to-no industry experience, creating a business from scratch is a fairly monumental task. I am ecstatic to be part of the Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Award cohort. The advice and funding, which allows me time each week to dedicate to the business, will be crucial Metacarpal's success.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: “It’s fantastic to see young people from Scotland working on such bold and exciting ideas. I look forward to hearing further updates on their progress and I hope they can serve to inspire further innovation and entrepreneurial spirit across Scotland and the whole United Kingdom.”

Fellow winner Renuka Ramanujam from Oban is working on a material innovation that uses onion skin instead of single use plastic waste. Picture: contributed.

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