July 4, 2022, by aczjb1

Purpose-driven businesses – Dr Terri Holloway

This blog is written by Dr Terri Holloway, Manager of the Ingenuity Lab

When you think of the Ingenuity Lab, you might picture a gorgeous Google-like space, where student and alumni entrepreneurs develop businesses —and yes that’s quite an accurate description of what we are. Our bike tyre-shaped building, specially designed to honour the rich Raleigh history in our area, has attracted hundreds of visitors since our red-ribbon cutting ceremony in 2017. From fashion icon Paul Smith to countless local politicians and dignitaries, we are constantly met with amazing comments about the Lab’s aesthetic appeal, and I certainly echo our visitors’ sentiments that it is a truly beautiful place to work.

However, for those within our community, the comments we receive regularly are much less about our vibrant colour-scheme, the beautiful views of the lake just outside or even the free coffee we provide – they tell us more about the community within.

The Ingenuity Centre, Jubilee Campus

The Ingenuity Lab encompasses both a physical and virtual community of passionate entrepreneurs who have decided that they want to solve the problems of the world, one business plan at a time. We are in fact: Purpose-driven Businesses!

James Doherty, Director of Indigo Mentoring, struggled during his time in university to find mentor support to help navigate the highs and lows of student life. His sister, Sarah, who was completing her Master’s degree when James was a First Year, spoke with James at least once per week to offer her guidance and tips, which he says helped to get him through his toughest times. When he graduated in 2017, he was determined to ensure that future students would have more accessible support than he did, so he developed Tyfy.co, a software which automates peer mentoring, making sure that “everybody everywhere has somebody somewhere that they can talk to,” he said.

James Doherty

Marketing Director, Emily Goodman, graduated from Keele University in April of this year and joined the company with a similar student experience as James. “I felt isolated,” Emily said, “and I now want to make sure that there are no more lonely students like me in accommodation.”

University has inspired many purposeful ventures, like Cove Clothing founded by Tom Sproull. Tom recently completed his MSc in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Management at Nottingham Business School; however, in the second year of his undergraduate degree, he did a fast-fashion module which exposed how damaging the industry is to the planet, contributing 10-15% of global emissions, which is more than all flights and ships combined. Tom started Cove with the aim of “disrupting the industry and doing something a little bit different,” he said. Cove creates casual wear using recycled materials and bio-degradable packaging, while partnering with customers to champion global sustainability, planting 10 trees per sale to actively reverse climate change.

Improving sustainability is a universal battle, which requires a collective response, and like Cove, GOAB Bio-engineers, a Lab business and Ingenuity Programme alumni, have decided to tackle it head on. Ebenezer B. Owusu and Philemon Gyasi-Antwi founded the company with the aim of transforming plastic waste into composite boards, which can be used to create a range of sustainable products, specifically in developing countries where plastic is an enormous problem. In fact, globally to date, there are about 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world, and some 6.3 billion tons of that is trash, so repurposing waste is crucial to creating sustainable change.

Philemon and Ebenezer of GOAB Bio-Engineers

Looking into reducing waste across sectors, Lab members, Tamil Selvan and Animesh Roy are trying to better understand the carbon emissions of industry to develop a tool kit for SMEs and large-scale organisations. Tamil has also authored a book titled Sustainability for Beginners, which provides a basic introduction to sustainability and sustainable developments, integrated with current business models and future business prospects.

While many Lab members developed their ‘passion projects’ in the UK, Yudan Deng, developed the idea for her business, Follow the Orient, long before travelling to England in 2017. As a Mandarin teacher in China and second-year student at Sichuan Agricultural University, Yudan noticed that the children’s books she was asked to teach from at local primary schools were outdated. For example, Yudan explained that a lesson which involved a phone call would use an old landline, when today’s children are more familiar with smart phones. She felt that the children deserved better and believed that she could help them by creating her own company, which is able to produce books in a fraction of the time required by large publishers—allowing the content to remain modern and creative.

Her business model has since expanded, now combining exciting pop-up storybooks and the latest Artificial Intelligence technology to help take children on an exciting journey of language-learning discovery. Learning a language should be an exciting ‘adventure’ Yudan said. Yudan was recently selected as a finalist for this year’s Generation Next, Creative Award, which recognises the rising stars within the East Midlands creative industry in fields such as music, media, theatre, art, film, and entertainment.

Our Ingenuity Lab members inspire us every day to find a problem worth solving, and to never stop searching for solutions. Purpose is the fuel that drives us, and our community cheers us on as we succeed together: We are purpose-driven businesses!

For more about finding your passionate business idea, watch our Roundtable, ‘The Business of Law’, where Thal Vasishta, founder and Managing Director of Paragon Law, takes us on his own personal journey from setting up a business with purpose to learning how to niche your market!

To receive support in developing your business idea, apply to join the Ingenuity Lab today!

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