Biophilica, has been announced as the winner of Queen Mary’s Social Venture fund. Based in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London, the fund empowers students and recent graduate entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society today.
The Queen Mary Social Venture Fund is the first student-led venture capital fund investing in student-led social enterprises in the UK and aims to support long-term social change.
Built by students, the fund provides them with opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills with support from industry mentors as well as academics from Queen Mary. Student investors were given the opportunity to advise and invest in real-life early-stage start-ups with a social mission.
The winner, Biophilica, is a start-up which transforms green waste into a leather-like material that is carbon-negative, recyclable and compostable. Devie, an app which helps parents and guardians to understand and manage their child’s behaviour received the audience choice award at the virtual ceremony held on 4 December. Both start-ups are female led.
Mira Nameth and Jordan Berkowitz, founders of Biophilica said: “We are thrilled to have won the first Queen Mary Social Venture Fund equity competition. Thank you to the judges and to the students who built this fund that supports “start-ups for good”. We are so grateful. To all the amazing pitching founders – fantastic work!”
Dr Joanne Zhang, Director of Entrepreneurship hub & foundering academic of the fund said: “We had an exceptional group of seven “start-up for good” pitching last Friday, all selected by our student investors. I am impressed by the range of innovative ideas and how passionate these founders are to build entrepreneurial ventures with a purpose not just profits. Also, three of our finalists are female led (Biophilica, Devie and Musemio). We are thrilled to make our first investment in Biophilica – a female-led start-up with a mission to turn green waste into leather-like green materials.”
The Social Venture Fund is part of Queen Mary’s Student Knowledge Exchange Through Community Hubs (SKETCH) programme in which students provide pro bono consultancy and venture capital services to East London local communities, start-ups, third sector organisations and beyond.
The social venture fund builds on Queen Mary’s School of Business and Management’s Entrepreneurship programmes, as well as Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship which is specifically designed for the social sector. The programme, the first of its kind in the UK, enterprises allows students to earn, learn and change the world.
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