Regional finalists

AMERICAS - Michael Alderson

Newcastle University

Michael is the co-founder and Director of Environmental Sustainability of EcoSwell, which aims to develop vulnerable communities in Peru sustainably, improving lives whilst protecting the natural environment. Michael's work empowers communities through education, infrastructure and socio-environmental initiatives and has been showcased internationally. To date, EcoSwell has impacted 3,000 people. Michael received the Pride of Newcastle Alumni Award for International Impact in 2018.

EAST ASIA - Yu (Claire) Hao

University of Cambridge; UCL Institute of Education

Claire  is an entrepreneur, researcher and educator. She is tackling education inequality in under-resourced cities in China by changing fixed perceptions of school education and developing learning ecosystems that have helped parents across the country. Claire co-founded Beijing Xinxuedao Education, a not-for-profit organisation of 11 experimental schools with over 5,000 students and 1,000 teachers, characterised by an authentic fusion of Chinese and Western philosophies and pedagogies.

EUROPE - Spiros Kitsinelis

University of Sheffield

Spiros is a specialist in the public communication of science, having written many articles and books, and appeared on television and radio shows. He has been awarded or nominated for a range of prestigious science communication prizes such as Famelab (first Greek winner) and the Kalinga international prize (nominee) and has twice been awarded Greek Science Writer of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers. His latest videos online reached almost half a million views on YouTube.

MENA - Shireen Yaish

Goldsmiths, University of London

Shirin is the founder of Kaynouna Arab Art Therapy Center, a pioneering organisation dedicated to providing therapy for refugee and underprivileged communities in Jordan, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the UAE. Shirin’s work has reached thousands of people and has featured in international media including CNN and Al Jazeera. Her training for psychosocial workers is based on her own education in the UK, which included placements in NHS hospitals, lectures and supervision. 

SOUTH ASIA - Stephanie Case

University of Essex; University of Edinburgh

Stephanie is Head of Protection of Civilians and Child Protection for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and serves as the President, Founder and Board Member of Free to Run, a charity that uses adventure sports to support women and girls in areas of conflict, developing them into community leaders so they can bring people together. Since studying in the UK as a Chevening Scholar, Stephanie has focused her work in human rights on areas of conflict and humanitarian emergencies.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - Rejane Woodroffe

University of Sussex

Rejane is the Director and co-founder of the Bulungula Incubator, which addresses the challenges of rural poverty through interventions in education, health and sustainable livelihoods. Working in the poorest parts of South Africa, its programmes have reduced child mortality rates, facilitated access to online education and helped develop the local economy. The Bulungula Incubator has received numerous awards, and in 2014 Rejane received the prestigious John P McNulty Prize for her work.

WIDER EUROPE - Ardak Berdibekov

University of Stirling

Ardak is the founder of - a knowledge-sharing platform enabling Kazakh students to obtain scholarships and receive job offers. More than 200 people have shared their success stories on Neupusti, and as a result within three years more than 2,000 students have been awarded scholarships worth $15 million. Neupusti is now one of the most popular websites among Kazakh youth, and has won or been shortlisted for innovation and start-up awards in Kazakhstan and internationally.