Miranda Dobson

Nottingham PhD students awarded Digital Economy prize

Innovative student entrepreneurs from the University of Nottingham have won the Digital Economy Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) after developing a sustainability app.

The winners were three postdoctoral students making up team NeeHoy, who developed a concept for a digital service which encourages collaborative consumption as an aid to reducing waste output and to save money by sharing items.

Digital Economy YES helps to develop business awareness and runs a three day course where postgraduates and PhD students prepare business plans to present to a judging panel.

The initiative hopes to equip students with skills and resources to promote growth in the UK’s digital economy.

Speakers at the event included experts from Microsoft UK and Google, who joined representatives from digital economy companies and Nottingham alumni who have created their own start-ups in this vein.

A total cash prize of £2,500 was won by the team, with support from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, after the winners showed the impact of digital economy research.

NeeHoy will also receive support from Nottingham’s EnterpriseLab and Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute.

This is part of a £40 million investment from Research Councils UK which looks to further the UK’s digital economy and society and will help to launch the team’s business in the market as well as developing their product.

John Harvey, a member of NeeHoy, said: “We had an idea for a service to encourage more sustainable consumption of goods whilst offering real value for consumers. Digital Economy YES helped us develop a business case to support it.”

Digital Economy YES first started its development 20 years ago, and has since worked with nearly 4,000 PhD students and scientists in the early stages of their careers.

Professor John Peberdy MBE is on the YES judging panel. He explained the need for students to participate in initiatives such as this one.

He said: “In the current economic climate postgraduate students need to seriously consider broadening their skills and knowledge base and thereby enhance their employment opportunities.

“Clearly the more recent and expanding digital economy provide an opportunity to students engaged in this area of research to think of opportunities for commercialisation. The launch of this pilot is therefore very timely as it gives more students the chance to acquire knowledge of commercialisation practice and develop their business awareness and skills.

“I would like to congratulate all the students that took part in the first Digital Economy YES competition and hope that they will look for opportunities arising in their own research which could lead them on to develop the new digital based products to replace the likes Facebook and Twitter.”

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