Hello, Megan here! I am thrilled to announce that I am an Innovate UK & The Prince's Trust Young Innovators Award Winner for 2020/21. Being awarded as one of the 64 young innovators is such a pleasure, this award will enable me to develop Curated Makers even further as a concept.
The application was written back at the start of lock down 1.0, tasked with creating a video too to explain the vision and how the award would support Curated Makers to grow. Gosh did this keep me busy, as I wrote down everything that was whirling around in my mind, in a bid for the judges to believe in my vision and the future potential the business holds, which will impact so many others, not just me!
I wrote, typed, scribbled, recorded, deleted, recorded again...and the 3 minute long video was eventually taken in 1 cut...yes...1 cut! My family asked me was I reading from a script, did I have a teleprompter?! Not at all, I spoke from the heart and hit all the points I wanted to, within the time limit, I uploaded it and pressed send!! I shared my passion to enable more opportunities for small businesses in the North and further afield across the UK, via collaborations with major high-street retailers, to play our part in the future of retail and to change the future of the high-street.
What I haven't told you yet, is that I actually applied for this award back in 2018 too. In 2018, the award was launched for the first time and via The Princes Trust I went along to an information session about how to apply. I thought it was incredible, I did my application, recorded my video, uploaded it, pressed send, and sadly that time around I was not successful. I continuously watched out for this award to relaunch in 2019, but nope, it seemed to be a bi-annual application, so when I saw it relaunch in 2020 I was ready and raring to go again.
The key word here is innovation. Back in 2018 I applied with a vision, similar in my passion to help other small businesses, but my execution and ideas back then were not innovative. I pitched then to represent artists, within a shipping container complex and take on a short-term let as a shopfront...I also wanted to host an artisan market within Heaton Hall, situated within Heaton Park in Prestwich (which I was SO close to getting approved and it would have been epic, but sadly the council then rejected it and that was the end of that...imagine how incredible that would have been as a venue?! I know right!) at the time I thought I was innovative in my plans, but looking back now, this was not innovation at all. I was passionate yes, but I hadn't yet found my spark, my USP, my real vision. After all, I only started brainstorming what Curated Makers would be in November 2017 and hosted a market stall representing 4 makers in Leeds Town Hall to test the concept. I was still making mood boards, researching, going on as many online courses about starting a business as possible! It's fair to say, it was worth the wait to finding my path in 2020 and successfully re-pitching and receiving this award.
I actually found out about this award being relaunched by being signed up to the Innovate UK newsletter, as well as the KTN Network newsletter, so do give them both a google and sign-up to their newsletters, as there are always so many grant and award opportunities out there, you just need to do some digging to find them and have the patience and commitment to complete the application forms, as they can be mega! Watch the webinars, ask the questions, find out more...and you just never know!!
For this award, 757 applications were received and 64 young innovators from across the UK were awarded in 2020. I'm blown away and so pleased to be able to announce this now, I've known for ages and just had to keep it to myself 😅
There are opportunities out there just wanting to be found. What do you have to lose?!
A huge thank you to the judges for believing in me for this award, the line up is epic!!
I am now looking forward to working closely with my "innovation champion" business mentor over the next 12 months, to take Curated Makers to the next stage. As part of the award, each winner receives 12-month mentoring support, a £5k grant towards an innovation project and a living allowance for the award winners. It's a brilliant step forwards for so many entrepreneurs and the ideas, scope, industries and sectors that all of the winners sit across is so inspiring. All winners are aged between 18-30, in a bid to see young talent succeed in bringing new innovative concepts to fruition, it's going to be great to see everyone develop alongside one another, I just wish we could meet in person. I'm so hopeful that at some point over the next 12 months, we'll all get to meet.
Want to know more about the award itself and the reasoning behind it's launch?
Quoted from the KTN website, "In 2017, Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out independent research with 18- to 30-year-olds who were not in employment, education or training, or in a form of insecure or under-employment. The report explored attitudes towards innovation and entrepreneurship, and found that:
• 2 in 5 young people surveyed (39%) had ideas for products and services they think they could sell
• 54% would like to run their own company
• 82% view the business sector as difficult to access
• only 8% would describe themselves as entrepreneurial.
In response to the report’s findings, Innovate UK launched a campaign in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to find the next generation of innovators: Ideas Mean Business. The campaign launched at a pop-up coffee shop in London. Deborah Meaden, 19-year-old millionaire entrepreneur Ben Towers and business ambassadors exchanged coffee for innovative ideas and provided attendees with business advice. The campaign then went on the road, sharing advice with aspiring young innovators in Cardiff, Birmingham and Newcastle. Over 12,000 people got in touch to find out more about the young innovators’ programme. 150 attended 11 regional innovation events across the UK and online, where they received innovative business advice, and guidance on applying for support through the programme.
24 winners were selected from across the country to receive:
• one-on-one coaching from an innovation champion
• funding to support development of their business
• an allowance to cover living costs In 2020
New findings from Innovate UK showed that half of young people in the UK think their age is a barrier to business success, with nearly a third lacking the confidence they need to turn their idea into a reality. The findings were released in March with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announcing a £2.2m, Young Innovators Programme in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. The programme aimed to support up to 100 young people over 3 years with individuals benefiting from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one coaching and an allowance to cover living costs. To support the awards KTN organised online events attended by over 2,000 young innovators. 757 applications were received for the awards with 64 young innovators from across the UK awarded in 2020."
What a brilliant campaign. I cannot recommend KTN enough for webinars, grant opportunities and networking, so do look them up as this could be you. There was a women in business grant of £50k available earlier this year, with no age limit, but the application form was HUGE and I simply didn't have the capacity to put my application together for it at the time, else that would have be an incredible opportunity to apply for. One day I'll apply for more, I suggest anyone reading this to do so too!!
Want to see the other winners?
See this short YouTube clip which showcases all of the winners from across the UK below:
And finally...the summary of Curated Makers, which I proudly share today:
"Megan Jones is the founder of Curated Makers, supporting micro-businesses by providing retail opportunities on the high street or within retailers like John Lewis, M&S and Paperchase. These ‘Made Local Pop-Ups’ allow small local makers and artists to showcase their work to new customers. For makers, there is a risk-free commission-based model. For shoppers, pop-ups provide a unique shopping experience. Such exclusive retail relationships are hard for small businesses to access alone. But by acting collectively through Curated Makers, there can be a huge impact. Makers also gain access to a supportive creative community via meet-up events, creative conferences and interactive social campaigns. Megan says, “At present, we can only host one pop-up at a time. However, we have demand and interest from makers, customers and retailers to offer this on a national scale.” She hopes that the Young Innovators programme will enable her to expand to multiple events and locations, offering more opportunities to more small business owners."
Thank you for reading this and for your support.
Take care and speak soon,