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Award for York start-up tackling street waste in developing nations

Posted on 15 June 2018

A University of York graduate has won a competition for his start-up business which targets plastic waste management in developing nations.

Matt accepted his award from the Philippines.

Matt Barrie, who graduated with a Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree in 2017, won the “Outstanding Business” and “Most Innovative Concept” categories in the York Business Challenge for his start-up Solu, based in the Philippines.  

Solu aims to provide a platform to incentivise waste in developing nations and achieve zero street waste by 2025.  

The York Business Challenge is a University of York competition to celebrate the achievements of enterprising students and graduates. It aims to identify new, creative and viable businesses capable of future growth.

On track

Matt said: “Winning the York Business Challenge is a huge honour and I'm looking forward to flying the flag for the University of York in the coming months and years as we continue to work to solve the developing world's waste problems at Solu.

“The monetary support enables us to vastly accelerate our tech development and allows us to formalise existing partnership agreements. Whilst we inevitably have a long way to go, this win gives us confidence that we're on the right track... so thank you York!”

The other finalists were Matthew Higgins (Biochemistry, 2017) of Blue Ridge Bioinformatics, who secured the ‘most robust plan’ prize. Ellie Wright (1st year Marketing) of Augari and Alexandro Rizzo (3rd year Biochemistry) of Article Number 25 were both highly commended for their businesses.

Freelance skills

The fiercely contested competition, with a top prize of £2,000, runs alongside the Freelance Challenge, which recognises and rewards students who make significant progress in marketing their freelance skills.

Final year Italian and Spanish student Jacob Peatfield won £1,500 for the Freelance Challenge after impressing the audience with his handmade stationery business, High Meadows.

Jacob said: “Every freelancer dreams of turning their passion into a full time business, with my degree at York coming to an end the Freelance Challenge competition has put me in a great position to achieve this.

The other finalists were Lakechia Jeanne (MA Public Health) with Girls in Science, and Max Scott (Writing, Directing and Performance), who runs Riddim & Riddim Records.


Hosted by the Careers and Placements team at the University, the York Business Challenge and Freelance Challenge competitions provide an opportunity for York’s many young entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses. Funded by a generous gift from Santander, the competitions culminate in final dinner where the top entrants present their ideas and progress to date to an audience consisting of fellow entrepreneurial students and business leaders drawn from the City of York and the University’s many successful alumni.

Alumni who graduated less than two years ago are still able to access advice, funding, competitions and support through the University’s Enterprise team.

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