Last month, Emnet Tiruneh and her team at Addis Health became the first ever double winner in the annual StartUp Sussex student enterprise competition with their plan to deliver convenient, affordable door-to-door preventive healthcare services for communities across Ethiopia, whilst reducing underemployment for qualified medical professionals in the country.

Development Studies MA student Emnet and her social enterprise, Addis Health, took home the prizes for both the best commercial proposal and the idea with the most potential to bring about positive social change. In total, Emnet and her team received a prize worth £10,000 to take the project forward at the Awards ceremony, hosted by Sussex Innovation on 30th March.

Listen to Sussex Innovation’s Joseph Bradfield speaking to the winners here:

The StartUp Sussex competition is underwritten by the University of Sussex as part of its commitment to support student entrepreneurship, backed by a generous private donation from a Sussex alumnus. It is part of a programme of support that includes weekly Ideas Lab sessions, one-to-one coaching, speakers and entrepreneurs-in-residence. In line with the University’s values, social impact is targeted and incentivised throughout.

The three other prize winners in this year’s competition were:

  • Sarah Stephens with Chat Legal, an affordable mobile-first legal services platform.
  • Yasmin Mustafa with RINGZ, a stylish and empowering personal safety product.
  • Andrea Dumitrascu and her team with Victims of Trust, an initiative to fight human trafficking.

Each of the finalists will receive a kickstart grant of £500 and a place on the University’s summer accelerator programme. The four winning ideas will also gain a membership with Sussex Innovation as part of a one-year business incubation programme beginning in the autumn.

Previous StartUp Sussex winners have included Molly Masters with Books That Matter, a feminist literature subscription box that has won multiple national start-up awards and appeared on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, and Darren Tenkorang with TRIM-it, a mobile barber service that has received £1.1m of seed investment and been the subject of Channel 4 documentary The Money Maker, as well as features by BBC Business and Forbes.

“All the judges agreed that this year’s pitches were consistently the highest quality we had seen in nearly a decade of StartUp Sussex,” said Nigel Lambe, Chief Executive of Sussex Innovation, who chaired the judging panel. “The scale of Emnet and her team’s ambition was extraordinary, and their model has real potential to deliver huge social impact, making Addis Health a worthy winner of both prizes.”