Last night (Thursday 24 October) George Winfield,
Founder and CEO of SPYRAS, was announced as the UK’s most promising young entrepreneur
in technology and engineering by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise
George, aged 25, was chosen by a panel of experts and business leaders at the forefront of UK engineering, including Elspeth Finch MBE, CEO and Founder of digital platform IAND, and Josh Valman, founder of manufacturing business RPD International.
George’s company SPYRAS is developing a low-cost, paper-based sensor to help identify sepsis in hospital patients by accurately monitoring their breathing rate. Patient deterioration due to infections that develop into sepsis is the primary cause of Intensive Care Unit admissions from lower dependency hospital wards. A patient’s respiratory rate is well known to be the earliest sign of sepsis.The prototype paper sensors being developed by SPYRAS will provide continuous monitoring of respiratory rate, inhalation and exhalation periods and depth of breathing. Machine learning will help predict when a patient is beginning to deteriorate and alert clinicians early. This is important given that every 3.5 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis and earlier identification of the condition could save up to 14,000 lives a year in the UK alone.
Last night’s event marked the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub’s sixth annual Launchpad competition, an initiative set up to encourage more young people to start their own businesses. A separate Highly Commended Award was presented to Bella Trang, Co-Founder and CEO of Brarista. Brarista is an AI-enabled bra-fitting software replicating the process of professional fitting online. Bella will now receive membership of the Enterprise Hub, giving her access to expert mentoring and training support.
The JC Gammon award includes a £15,000 cash prize, in addition to a year of bespoke training and mentoring to help the winner kick-start their entrepreneurial career. The award is supported by the Gammon family in memory of John Gammon, a civil engineer who benefitted from a scholarship and bursary to fund his initial education.
George Winfield, Founder and CEO of SPYRAS and winner of the Launchpad Competition, said:
“I’m so pleased to be this year’s Launchpad
Competition winner; it is one thing having an initial idea about how to solve a
specific challenge, and it is another entirely getting industry backing.
“The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub will prove invaluable in helping me turn my innovation into a commercially successful, scalable business. It is a great financial boost but the training, mentorship and access to world-class engineers and business experts will also be invaluable. I cannot wait to get going.”
Elspeth Finch MBE is Head Judge for the Launchpad Competition and congratulated George Winfield, commenting:
"This year’s line-up was one of the strongest and most varied that we’ve seen; it was a real pleasure to see such brilliant young minds share their innovative businesses and growth strategies.
“Congratulations to George, I wish him the very best of luck as he expands his business. It's with the support of the Gammon family that we can provide entrepreneurs like George with the platform to help them accelerate their growth in this critical next stage of their business journey.”
Last year’s Launchpad winner was Rowan Minkley, founder and CEO of Chip[s]Board, an innovative, eco-friendly alternative to MDF. Since 2013 the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub has worked to discover, celebrate and support the country’s next generation of brilliant engineering entrepreneurs.
The three other finalists were:
1. Enterprise Hub
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub is a national resource for the UK’s most promising engineering entrepreneurs. The Hub forms part of the Academy’s commitment to stimulate excellence and promote creativity and innovation in engineering. The Hub does this by making awards to exemplars of excellence and innovation in engineering who will be the founders and leaders of tomorrow’s high-tech companies. The awards include provision of money-can’t-buy bespoke support and one-to-one mentoring from its Fellowship, which comprises many of the country’s most successful engineers from across academia and industry, including prominent entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover CBE HonFREng,Ian Shott CBE FREng and David Cleevely CBE FREng. The Royal Academy of Engineering opened the Taylor Centre – a physical home for the Enterprise Hub with meeting and networking facilities for its Members – in February 2017.
2. Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK’s national academy for engineering
and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers
from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in
engineering for the benefit of society.
We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.
We have three strategic priorities:
We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business
leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals. Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across
the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international,
as well as a national scale.