The Mayor's Innovation Prize

The Mayor's Innovation Prize finalists have now been announced. Below is more information on the forward thinking and innovative ideas that have made the shortlist by each age category.

The European Social Fund

The Mayor's Innovation Prize is part funded by the European Social Fund.


Our finalists are announced

The finalists in the 16 - 18 age category

Idea 1 - Tom

The number of wild areas across West Yorkshire are decreasing, having a knock on effect on biodiversity of plant and animal species, affecting ecosystems.

The idea is to re-wild areas using natural barriers (trees, brushes, plants, grass- left to grow wild) on farmland and private land (residential gardens) to re-establish biodiversity across West Yorkshire.

Idea 2 - Rebecca

Due to climate change, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of flooding (specifically pluvial floods).Causing water damage, displacement and is a health and safety risk.

The idea is pervious pavements in residential and commercial areas, to provide an alternate pathway for water to drain away, reducing the damage caused by floods.

Idea 3 - Nmesomachukwu

Transport accounts for the most significant economic impact on air quality in West Yorkshire, and congestion increases vehicle emissions - which increase the climate threat our environment
already faces.

The idea is Travel Green App - which provides real time updates on the traffic flow through cities in West Yorkshire, providing users with alternative, less congested routes, reducing emissions, and promotes alternative walking and cycle routes. The app will
also enable users to track how much they have reduced their emissions, and link to health apps where users can track how their physical activity has increased.

Idea 4 - Ben

The problem is that renewable energies have an intermittent supply and are very expensive so people don’t use them.
The idea is to turn rainwater into energy for homes by using small turbine generators in drain pipes. When it rains the water falls down the drainpipe, turns the turbine and creates energy which can subsidise power lost from (for example) solar power.
The idea helps to diversify energy supply, decarbonise the grid and provide an affordable option for renewable energy.

Idea 5 - Jemima

Landfill sites are a significant contributor of greenhouse gases. Many people are unaware of, or lack time to, properly sort their household waste, increasing what ends up in landfill.
The idea is to educate the next generation of homeowners, build their awareness, empathy and motivation to recycle correctly through a recycling initiative project. This project focuses on educating young people via talks and distributing information
(posters, stickers) through primary schools and libraries.

The finalists in the 19 - 21 age category

Idea 1 Michail and team

Initiatives to reduce disposable coffee cups and single use plastics across universities have seen low engagement from students. Despite many universities offering discounts on drinks when people bring their own cups, many students still don’t - they forget, don’t have room, or don’t want to carry a dirty cup.
The idea is Recuppa - a reusable cup system that aims to end disposable cup usage - starting in universities. Users can select their cafe through an app, pay a deposit for a reusable cup, then return it to a designated bin to receive their deposit back.
This would cut down on single cup usage and reduce the amount of coffee cup/plastic waste produced by the university.

Idea 2 - Litycia

Electricity demand is showing the biggest increase, compared to other types, across the UK - with domestic electricity use making up nearly 40% of CO2 emissions per year. We need to help people control, store and use clean energy.
The idea is Windy App, an app that helps customers understand and access the wind energy market. This app enables users to choose a suitable wind turbine that suits their electricity needs, organise installation, and save money on energy costs. The app also enables users to control their wind turbine, and compare savings with neighbours.
This project can encourage people to look for clean energy alternatives, creates job and investment opportunities for West Yorkshire, and helps reduce carbon emissions.

Idea 3 - Rozina

Over 50 tonnes of e-waste is created annually, much of which is caused by planned obsolescence of electrical items (the artificial limiting of a lifespan of a product and designed frailty).
E-waste fills up landfills and harms the environment with toxic chemicals.
The idea is to change mindsets by providing curriculum-linked workshops which introduce children to the right to repair, perma-computing, and community building exercises. Where
sustainably interested university students will provide workshops to junior school pupils who are more likely open to changing their
Intervening early will influence the mindsets of pupils by offering new habits and values, which challenge existing consumerist and capitalist values, and create positive peer pressure to keep repairing products instead of buying new ones.

Idea 4 - Penelope

Textile waste is a global problem. Although second hand clothes are becoming increasingly popular, there is still little being done for textiles that are not in usable condition.
The idea is to create Textile Banks across West Yorkshire.
Companies and individuals could dispose of their textile waste responsibly via the Textile Bank, and give it a second life. This would be useful for local designers, businesses such as Trad collective, and students taking courses in fashion or design.
Students could volunteer at the banks in order to gain free fabric.
Surplus fabrics could be shredded to create insulation to retrofit properties across West Yorkshire. The textile bank could also run an exchange scheme for school uniforms, thus providing value for money for families across West Yorkshire.

Idea 5 - Matthew

The use of plastic straws was banned in 2021, since then if you order a drink from a bar or restaurant in West Yorkshire, it will be made of paper. Ten minutes later, however, it will become soggy
and completely unusable. Worst still, those who have limited movement (through disability or accident) rely on straws for drinking, and now have disintegrating paper straws compounding
their suffering. Additionally, paper straws still rely on the deforestation required for paper production.
The idea is ‘Straw Straws’. Straws that are composed of natural wheat polymers, that are completely waterproof, gluten free, tasteless, mass producible, and that will decompose in 3-6
months . The product already exists, but they are not accessibly branded or widely used. The aim is to scale up the use of wheat straws, replacing the 8.5 billion single use straws currently consumed each year with a more usable and environmentally friendly alternative.

The finalists in the 22 - 26 age category

Idea 1 - Francesca

At the end of every academic year Leeds streets are littered in waste left by students exiting their properties. This waste always includes university textbooks that students no longer need. Each
year new students buy the exact same textbooks that are discarded (costing them on average £100 a year).
The idea is UNIDBOOKS, the UKs first purpose-built university textbook marketplace. Users can create an account, list their books, and meet up with the buyer to exchange books after which payment is complete. This idea ensures valuable resources are recycled, reduces the carbon footprint associated with books being delivered from elsewhere in the UK, and
encourages a sustainable mindset. It also helps students save money and ensures everyone has access to the resources they need.

Idea 2 - Helen

Many resources are disposed of if businesses or individuals no longer need them, contributing to landfills.
The idea is to create a resource sharing platform specifically for creative and cultural organisations across Leeds. For example, if one organisation has spare materials from an event that they no longer need, they can post it on the resource sharing platform, enabling another organisation/freelancer/student to reserve the
item and collect it for their new use - embedding circularity in the creative and cultural sector and reducing waste.

Idea 3 - Team CompostIt

Food waste is one of the biggest challenges to the UK food system, not only representing a major distribution inefficiency but also substantially contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Over 200,000 tons of food are wasted every single year, just in Leeds, with 50-70% of this coming from households. The idea is to create an app that makes it as easy as possible for households to recycle food-waste, by enabling flexible collection on a day of their choosing, and supplying them with caddy bins for storage. Food-waste would be redirected to local composters, who will convert the food-waste into nutritious, environmentally-friendly fertiliser. Each composter will have their own virtual community on the platform, comprised of households in their area that want to recycle food-waste, with communication channels for regular updates and increased collaboration. The platform would also have various educational resources, to increase awareness about various food-related sustainability issues and recommendations.

Idea 4 - Daniel

There is an ineffective waste management system around how we dispose of plastic. Plastic waste takes 1000 years to decompose and leaches toxic substances into the soil. The incineration process releases around 750,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The idea is to develop a home recycling kit that can break down plastics using mushrooms. The kit would contain a syringe of a liquid culture of mushrooms, which is released into a substrate
that helps mycelium grow. Plastic is placed into the kit and will decompose within a month. Certain mushrooms (i.e. pestalotiopsis microspora and oyster mushrooms) can consume polyurethane (the main ingredient in plastic), decomposing plastic waste with the final product safe enough to be added to general compost. This can reduce waste plastic in the West
Yorkshire area and reduce soil contamination.

Idea 5 - Elise and team

Childhood obesity is a key concern for primary aged students in the UK, and children living in deprived areas are twice as likely to suffer from obesity. Processed meats are unhealthy options, and
the meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to CO2 releases.
The idea is to encourage schools to provide weekly meat free school meals. Healthy meals that focussed around vegetables to ensure schools children are getting highly nutritious meals to
improve their overall health. Initial steps would include the introduction of vegetarian days once a week, if successful schools could offer a larger range of plant based options. To supplement these healthy meals, a campaign to increase awareness of sustainability can be delivered. As a result, school
children across West Yorkshire would alter their personal dietary patterns and hopefully encourage them to opt for more plant based options.

A place that is globally recognised for developing an open, inclusive, thriving and coherent innovation ecosystem.

Tracy Brabin Mayor of West Yorkshire, Speaking about West Yorkshire

What was the prize?

At a time when we’re facing increasing challenges (including the rising cost of living, energy crisis and climate crisis), we need creative solutions the most. Whilst solutions will require technical know-how from experts, the ideas behind them can come from anywhere - particularly those most affected!

This prize was open to 16-26 year olds to use their unique experiences and perspectives to generate new ideas to address the challenges that are affecting them and their communities. It created an opportunity to bring young people together with experts and businesses to build, not only innovation ecosystems, but exciting ideas into viable business opportunities.

Support and information

Find resources to help you in your idea formation, application and beyond if you are shortlisted.

What’s in it for you?

  1. Professional Support & Connections

    Training sessions, mentoring and guidance to support you in shaping your challenge.
  2. Peer Network

    A community of like minded peers, working on developing their own ideas.
  3. Cash Prize

    A chance to win prize money (a share of £10,000) and further support to implement the winning idea(s) into a business

Contact Us

If you have any issues downloading the application form or submitting your application, get in touch on email: