10 March 2022

Sheffield’s Innovators of the future

A Sheffield Mechanical Engineering PhD alumnus is amongst three graduates from the University who have been announced as winners within the cohort of the Innovate UK Young Innovators Awards 2021/22.

Ben White Headshot
Ben White Sheffield Tribology Services

University of Sheffield alumni - Ben White, Ella Hopkin and Tendai Taruvinga - have been recognised as young people with creative and ground-breaking business ideas and a strong potential for innovation. The three graduates were amongst a cohort of 63 winners from across the UK, and will receive a £5,000 grant and one-to-one business coaching from the programme. 

As part of his time at the University, Ben received support from the University’s Entrepreneurship Service team to develop his ideas.  Ben took part in the Entrepreneurships’ Pre-accelerator programme to develop his start-up, ‘Sheffield Tribology Services’. The dedicated 12-week structured Pre-accelerator programme supports recent graduates, students and members of staff to build skills and develop their business idea.

Sheffield Tribology Services - Ben White’s story  

Ben White developed the business idea for Sheffield Tribology Services with Mike Watson, now co-founder and a staff member at the University of Sheffield. The pair’s business aims to provide professional friction and wear testing to the rail industry. “Railways are environmentally friendly and socially inclusive and managing railway adhesion conditions is essential to running a safe and efficient railway,” Ben adds. 

Originally a chemistry student at the University of Sheffield, Ben switched to engineering. He joined the University’s Entrepreneurship pre-accelerator programme, which helped him turn his idea into a business and opened up a number of opportunities for him and Mike.

The Young Innovators programme stood out because of the huge amount of expert advice and mentoring on offer… Developing a new business can be daunting at times, so it’s great to know that an organisation as big as Innovate UK believes we can be successful.

Ben White

Sheffield Tribology Services

Over the next year, Ben and Mike plan to build a twin disc test rig that will run a friction and wear consultancy service designed to accelerate the development, optimisation and approval of new products for the rail industry. They are currently seeking additional grant funding to purchase some of the components required to build the test rig.

The Young Innovators Programme is operated in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, to drive entrepreneurship and fresh perspectives to today’s innovation challenges. It has seen 1,300 applications over the past two years and Innovate UK has allocated £2.2 million to help young people develop their innovative ideas and drive positive and meaningful change over the next 3 years.

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