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St Mary's Students Advance to Semi-finals of the Mayor's Entrepreneur 2021 Competition

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Two students from St Mary's University, Twickenham are among the 140 semi-finalists of the annual London Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition. 

The competition was launched in 2012 to encourage students to come up with solutions to promote growth and improvement in London and, to ensure they get the skills needed to succeed in a fair, inclusive society and thriving economy.  

There are four award categories: Creative Industries, Environment, Health and Tech. Due to the success of last year, this year’s competition will feature a fifth award People’s Choice Mayor’s Entrepreneur. The award will run across the other four categories and the winner will be decided by a judging panel and public vote. The winners of each award will receive £20,000 in funds.

The two students from St Mary’s are in the running for the health award. Alice Harper, a Nutrition BSc student, has created Harper's Health and Avril Cassell, a Chronic Diseases Management MSc student, has created AC Health & Nutrition.

When asked about the competition Avril said, "I am thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the competition! The need to deliver culturally tailored, evidence informed health interventions to Black, Minority Ethnic (BME) populations has never been more urgent! Covid-19 highlighted what we already knew - BME populations have disproportionate disease and mortality rates for a series of complex reasons. Our programmes will help BMEs to better health by reducing overweight and obesity, promoting mindfulness, self-care and increased mental wellness. Research in this area is vital to inform public health policy and healthcare professional best practice to ensure optimum BME engagement with health messages and ensure equitable access for all!”

Head of Employability Services at St Mary’s Yasmina Mallam-Hassam said of the competition, “We are really proud of Avril and Alice to have made it to the semi-final of London Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition. Both businesses were finalists in Start Up St Mary’s with AC Health & Nutrition winning our own competition in 2020. We are so happy to have been a part of their entrepreneurial journey and they are real ambassadors for the entrepreneurial talent of St Mary’s students.”

There are 35 semi-finalists in each category who will attend a boot camp style workshop before presenting their idea to the expert panel in a 2-minute pitch before the panel select the top five entries from each category to form the 24 finalists. The finalists then pitch Dragon’s Den style in front of a live audience and a panel of high-profile judges who pick the winners. Previous judges have included Deborah Meaden, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Jo Malone MBE.

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