Rebecca wins UHI Business Competition 2022

Rebecca Wallace, our HISA Perth Vice President for Education and Engagement and Aircraft Engineering student has won a prize in the UHI Business Competition.

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Samantha Cribb, Managing Director of HBS Ring Ltd and Rebecca

The UHI Business Competition, run by CREATE, part of the Centre for Remote and Sustainable Communities, is now in its 16th year and encourages enterprise and innovation by supporting people in the Highlands and Islands, Moray, Perthshire and Argyll to take their first steps on the road to starting their own business.

Eight finalists shared in a prize pot of £8000.

Rebecca was awarded £1,000 for winning the ‘Best Social Impact Award’ category, sponsored by Engineers in Business Fellowship.

Rebecca’s idea is for a ‘smart’ jumper to help tackle the domestic violence crisis. Any physical abuse directed towards a victim could be detected by the technology within the jumper and the data stored securely.

Rebecca (27), from Tayside, explained: “I have made a new product using a sensor called ‘velostat’. It can detect forces/pressure and due to its flexibility, thinness and light weight – it’s ideal for clothing. By placing it into a jumper, if anyone is subject to physical abuse or any non-consensual contact – the jumper can send data instantly through a tiny Bluetooth or WiFi module within the jumper. This can then be used as evidence where previously there may have been none. It would be targeted at domestic abuse victims who have made complaints, but no other evidence was available to take a case forward.

“My mum started up a social enterprise, so I’ve been inspired by her work and success, but really wanted to do something to support the domestic violence crisis. Waiting for politicians to change something was taking too long. I wanted to help now.

“The UHI Business Competition challenged me to think about the product in detail and make a prototype. To be told I was a finalist injected confidence in my idea/product. The awards evening was fun and it was inspiring to hear from other finalists and those presenting. I was honoured. I now feel like I have the confidence and ambition to take the idea forward.”

The awards ceremony took place at UHI Inverness on Wednesday 25 May, with Izzy Cunningham, founder of Skye-based Scribe and Grow and IMPACT30 participant, attending as guest speaker.

The competition attracted 60 entries from students across the UHI partnership, as well as entrepreneurs living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray, Perthshire and Argyll.

This year’s judges included: Samantha Cribb, Managing Director of HBS Ring Ltd and UHI Inverness board member; Shane Healy, Distilling Director at Whyte and Mackay; and Mairi MacDonald, Enterprise Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Samantha Cribb, Managing Director of HBS Ring Ltd, added: “I have been blown away by the quality of submissions again this year and come away inspired by the drive, ambition and enterprising spirit that exists across our communities. Supporting entrepreneurship helps to deliver positive change via innovation that can have a lasting benefit not only for individuals but for the wider community. I am encouraged by the richness of creativity and business ideas that challenge current market sectors and propose solutions to community, societal and environmental issues.”

This year’s business competition has been made possible with support from sponsors: Engineers in Business Fellowship, UHI, UHI Inverness, Harper Macleod LLP, Johnston Carmichael Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, Northern Innovation Hub, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Apprentice Store, HBS Ring Ltd, Whyte & Mackay, Scribe & Grow, and Jimmy Hendry Master Plumber.