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York graduate awarded Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award

Posted on 27 April 2016

An entrepreneur who developed a personal safety app while studying at the University of York has received Royal approval from HRH The Duke of York.

Sam Heather, a graduate of Computer Science, collecting The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award from Prince Andrew.

Sam Heather, a graduate of Computer Science, collected The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award from Prince Andrew at a special awards ceremony, organised and hosted by the University of Huddersfield.

Sam Heather, 22, from Cornwall, is the co- founder of pingWHEN.

The app works by sending automated text messages to a specific contact when you arrive to a destination, or raising an alert if you don't, offering reassurance and peace-of-mind for both the user and their contact.

In all, 19 young entrepreneurs – each representing one of 19 universities in the North of England - received the Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award.

Tom Coward, from the University of York’s Careers’ enterprise team, nominated Sam Heather for the award. He said: “Sam has received ongoing support from the enterprise team in Careers ever since he got in touch with the idea for pingWHEN.

“He applied to and won Plan ENVY, the university’s business plan competition, taking the top prize of £2000. He has also made use of the university’s Proof of Concept fund, which students and recent graduates can apply to for funding to test their business idea. ”

Sam Heather said: “I was really delighted to be selected for the Duke of York award by the Careers department at my University. I'd been working with them for a year on a technology startup that I pitched to them last summer.

“The event in Huddersfield was really exciting: HRH took an incredible interest in the businesses of all the winners and it was great to hear what others were up to as well. All in all, I'm really delighted to have won a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award.”

Sam Heather is currently involved with a number of exciting initiatives and is continuing to seek out new challenges and opportunities.

He said: “I continue to work on a number of social impact businesses full-time. At the moment I'm focusing on using technology to empower those without free access to knowledge, largely because they are living in poverty only with access to rudimentary telephone.

“The Enterprise team at York have been amazing, both before graduating and after, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Further information:

  • The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Awards were launched in 2013 to highlight the role that young entrepreneurs play in creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to recognise the achievements of talented student and graduate entrepreneurs. The Award scheme was pioneered by the University of Huddersfield and was originally celebrated amongst the universities in Yorkshire. Each university was invited to select a student or graduate start-up business or social enterprise that demonstrated commercial or social impact, and had potential for sustainability and growth. In 2016, the scheme was expanded to include universities across the whole of the North of England and 19 enterprises were selected to receive the award this year.
  • Plan ENVY is the University’s business plan competition, with a top prize of £2000, made possible thanks to a generous gift from Santander. The competition is designed to recognise and inspire entrepreneurial talent across the university. The deadline for entries for Plan ENVY 2016 is 29th April. Visit the plan ENVY web page for more information.
  • For more information about the University of York’s Careers’ enterprise team, visit:

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