Award Winner: Dr Jennifer Rao-Williams

The University of Dundee Centre for Entrepreneurship focuses on nurturing entrepreneurial potential to improve the self-reliance and employability of the students, staff and recent graduates by developing their enterprise skills. And secondly, to support those who wish to embark on the journey of starting their own business, focusing on support from local business experts, who provide training, mentoring, inspirational talks and competitions with associated prize funding.

The annual Venture competition, marks the final event of the Entrepreneurship Week and provides start-up funding awards for new and developing business ideas. I was awarded joint-first in the Recent Graduate category, a prize sponsored by Aydya, a local Dundee company and supporter of the Centre!

In 2017 I was awarded a By Design Grant via the Scottish Enterprise which enabled a collaboration with a V&A award winning designer to create an innovate solution to the environmental problems caused by the shaving industry. The problems posed by the consumable cosmetic market has been a long-standing focus for me, so I launched J-RAO Contemporary Apothecary with the aim of providing ethical alternatives.

I have engaged with the Venture competition a few times, and always find the process really worthwhile. One of the key aspects I think when applying for enterprise funding is your ability to pivot, and take on board feedback. Also, the judges are incredibly generous with their feedback and input into the entire process which includes two applications and two pitching rounds. I have also had the chance to meet post competition for follow up conversations which has been really valuable. A key aspect of the Venture Competition, and increasingly other UK funding competitions, requires explicit links on how investment leads to impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals. My application and pitch focused on the UK Plastic Pact Targets, which are ambitious aims focused on the challenges of plastic pollution resulting from consumables. 

The funding will be used to undertake IP activities, which will enable stronger applications over the next months. The entrepreneurship eco-system is incredibly close, dynamic and accessible in Dundee, and I am really excited by the prospects of developing further in my entrepreneurial journey, alongside projects like TRANSFORM which focuses on developing insights into sustainable business practices, and creating lasting impact with small and medium sized businesses.   

A huge well done again to Jennifer, and to learn more about Jennifer’s academic background and research interests please visit here.


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