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Tackling food poverty and climate change together – ingenious business idea sends duo to regional finals

Two doctoral students from the University of Gloucestershire have been named as regional finalists for the Ingenuity Challenge 2021 thanks to an innovative business idea that will tackle food poverty and climate change at the same time.

Bilawal Khan and Madeleine Mancey, who are PhD Scholars with the Gloucestershire Business School and School of Education and Humanities respectively at the University, have been shortlisted for the Challenge for their ‘HARV’ business idea.

Taking part in the Ingenuity Challenge 2021

The news is shared on the same day as the launch of the new #GettingResults campaign by Universities UK (UK) – a campaign putting universities at the heart of the economic and social recovery from Covid-19. It gives a renewed commitment from universities to do even more to reach out to new partners and deliver greater impact, and recognises the role that graduates will play in the recovery from the pandemic.

The idea behind HARV is to help lower-income families and communities who have critically low access to food within Gloucestershire. By providing seeds, knowledge, and support to people with spare garden space, the business model is to grow an inclusive enterprise which seeks to help people most in need and promote wellbeing, while having a positive impact on the environment.

Bilawal Khan said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity faces and will cause our extinction if we do not change our action. We are also very aware of social issues such as food poverty in the UK and how black, brown and minority communities such as LGBT and disabled social groups are affected disproportionately by climate change.

“Harmful and dangerous industrial agriculture, as well as a third of food being wasted, means that carbon levels will not be reduced unless we look towards ideas such as ours to reduce our deadly impact on the world.

“By creating a sustainable business, we aim to form an enterprise which contributes towards a circular economy and reduces people’s carbon footprint.”

Ingenuity is a national programme looking to invest in the next generation of impact driven start-ups that will transform society and the environment. The programme includes a network of the UK’s most innovative universities, corporate, public and third sector organizations and helps create start-ups that deliver sustainable social and environmental impact across the UK.

The free programme is delivered via an online insight and learning platform, Challenge Summits and a national business plan competition with significant investment and support.

Bilawal Khan and Madeleine Mancey will now have the opportunity to pitch their idea for HARV at the regional finals, where they will gain feedback from experts and sponsors. The most scalable ideas will be awarded up to £30,000 of grant and mentoring support and the most viable ideas from each Challenge pathway will be invited to attend the national Ingenuity Week.