TWO young North East women have taken top awards for their innovative new businesses.

Charlotte Ripley and Yuru Guo are among the Young Innovator Award winners announced today by Innovate UK and will get a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance to cover living costs as they grow their ideas.

Charlotte, 21, from Gateshead, has developed a wireless bee monitoring service, HiveGuard, to help beekeepers keep their hives safe from harm remotely.

The system notifies the keeper through a messaging application, if anything goes wrong or there is a potential threat.

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Charlotte developed an interest in technology and building things while growing up in Newcastle.

She studied electronic and electrical engineering at Nottingham Trent University, where she developed a passion for software development, especially in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The idea for HiveGuard was born as her dissertation project. Charlotte’s company, Beespoke Protection, now has a software prototype ready to go.

Yuru, 24, from Newcastle upon Tyne and Durham, created Hey! Food is Ready, an online marketplace for home-cooked meals, which connects culturally inspired home-cooks to people seeking freshly made authentic meals.

During the first lockdown, Yuru saw social media pictures of the tempting meals people were creating in their kitchens. It inspired her to create an online marketplace for home-cooked food.

Yuru sees her platform, Hey! Food is Ready, as an opportunity for refugees, immigrants, stay-at-home parents, and retirees to generate an income while sharing their native cuisine.

For customers, it offers the chance to enjoy homemade meals locally prepared by their neighbours.

Alongside completing her Master’s in entrepreneurship, Yuru developed a prototype for the website and brought her co-founders together to turn it into a reality.

The business is now working from Newcastle offices and recruiting its first home cooks from the city.

Innovate UK supports the programme through the delivery of workshops and briefing events that provide practical business advice to a network of over 8,000 young people across the UK. Hundreds of entrepreneurs then apply to the programme and, following an evaluation process, 63 innovators have started the New Year with a boost after winning the award.

Now in its third year, the programme continues to support high-potential young people from diverse backgrounds. This year, half of the winners are women, around a third are Black, Asian or from another ethnic minority group, 17% have identified as disabled. There are also multiple award winners in every region of the UK.

From turning fish skin into bags and wallets to enabling non-specialists to build safe, disaster-resistant housing, all of this year’s Young Innovators have ideas that promise to address current challenges.

Commenting on her award and project, Yuru Guo, said, “ I’m delighted to have won Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Award.

"It has boosted my confidence and makes me believe what’s possible with effort and enthusiasm.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “The innovation potential of this young age group is incredible.

"It’s a cohort that promises to bring energy, entrepreneurial flair and fresh perspectives to today’s big challenges. Our young innovators are also relatable role models, inspiring and showing the path to others, as they create economic and societal benefits through innovation – so that we can all see a fairer, more resilient and more productive society”.

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK says: “2021 continued to be a challenging year of uncertainty.

"Which makes it even more extraordinary how many of the winners have made such progress on their ideas - undeterred and resolute in their passion to make a difference in their own unique way.

"Working alongside this year’s winners, Innovate UK will help them grow and develop their business idea to make the world a better, and more innovative place.

"We can’t wait to see what they achieve next.”


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