Recognising UK alumni who are active in initiating or contributing to innovative and creative new ideas and solutions, and/or business opportunities that have the potential for strong growth.

Global finalists

AMERICAS: Anu Shah (USA)

University of Leeds

Anu is founder of EFI Hub, Asia and Africa’s first virtual start-up accelerator. EFI Hub was acquired by Acorn Capital in 2018. Anu since built and sold startups in the HR Tech space in South East Asia and in the United States. In 2020, Anu joined as a Venture Partner at San Francisco-based OpenBook Ventures, a $100mn Venture Partner fund started by the founder and CEO of GitLab. Previously Anu has worked in M&A, Strategy Consulting, Private Equity across Singapore, Dubai, London, and New York.

EAST ASIA: Julianna Yau (China)

University of Cambridge

Julianna is the Founder of Ampla Education, which provides after-school tuition and admissions advice to students applying to boarding schools and universities. Ampla is tackling educational inequality by delivering free services to disadvantaged learners, increasing access to quality education for all. To date it has helped more than 1,800 students to realise their education goals. Julianna has been named Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and won an Asia Business Achiever Award.

EUROPE: Konstantina Bethani (Greece)

University of Essex

Konstantina is Founder and CEO of Tenebra Studios, an independent video game and software development company. Her projects include educational video game for refugees, research on AI and machine learning and virtual reality application to detect early signs of dementia among others. Konstantina has organized a number of technology events in Greece and is committed to improving women’s representation in technology and the gaming industry. She describes her experience in the UK as life-changing.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Samer Ahmed (Qatar)

University of Cambridge

Inspired by the creative problem-solving skills he developed in the UK, Samer designed a course animated video game to engage the new generation of students who had grown tired of conventional teaching approaches. He won a grant to develop the idea, and now setting up a company to create similar games. Samer is also working with the government and industry to implement his innovative solutions to air pollution, winning Qatar’s only UK–Gulf Institutional Links Award for one such project in 2016.

SOUTH ASIA: Janki Rajapurkar Deole (India)

Loughborough University, Staffordshire University and Middlesex University

Janki is the Co-founder of Samiksha Sports Pvt Ltd, a pioneering sports and performance psychology company. She has helped more than 10,000 athletes to improve their performance by building mental resilience, and provided mentoring to 100 psychologists to support the growth of the sector. Janki was India’s first qualified sports psychologist and has since pursued an MSc and PhD in the UK. She cites the unique teaching approaches and experiential learning methods that she encountered in the UK.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: Olumide Ogunbanjo (Nigeria)

Coventry University

Olumide is the Co-founder and CEO of AgroData™, which supports small-scale farmers to boost their productivity and income through sustainable farming interventions. AgroData™ has enlisted more than 1,000 farmers, restored 3,134 acres of farmland, and helped to improve the quality of life of 5,335 farmers and rural dwellers in Oke-Ogun, Nigeria. Olumide is a two-time winner of Coventry University’s Bright Idea Award and in 2020 won a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Nigeria60 programme.

WIDER EUROPE: Javid Gara (Azerbaijan)

University of Bristol

Javid is the Founder of Camping Azerbaijan, an ecotourism and sightseeing company. He is passionate about environmental protection, particularly deforestation and habitat loss, and in 2020 stood as an independent, green candidate in Azerbaijan’s parliamentary elections. Javid led a successful initiative to clean more than 10km of shoreline on the outskirts of Baku. Javid believes the emphasis on soft skills in addition to technical knowledge is what sets UK education apart from other countries.