Wycombe Abbey Pupil wins Atherton Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Atherton Award aims to recognise and celebrate entrepreneurial spirit in young women. It runs in schools across the UK and pupils aged 11+ are encouraged to apply. 2023 was the inaugural year for the competition at Wycombe Abbey. It was launched in the spring and we had a range of entries from across the School. The winner of the annual prize receives a trophy, £500 towards the next phase of their journey, and a day of mentoring with Amber Atherton or someone in her network. Rebecca (UV) was one of the lucky recipients to win a sum of money to develop her idea further.

See below for Rebecca’s remarks on the award.

Initially, this product was just intended to be an abstract idea, a mere conceptual design, which was my entry for a computer science competition hosted by Intel. However, after having the opportunity to communicate with some of the associates at Intel, who encouraged me to look further into this idea and pursue its possibilities, along with my flourishing interest in artificial intelligence engineering; these factors inspired me to develop this idea and work towards physically manufacturing and marketing the product.

The product itself is an energy generator that utilises artificial intelligence technology, in the form of data analytics, and is intended to provide support to those who have been impacted by the current energy crisis, and the resulting rise in the cost of fuel. The product regenerates electricity from recycling heat energy emitted from electrical appliances (which would otherwise be lost to the environment as useless output energy). In the long term, the implementation of this product within a household will not only decrease their energy consumption, directly reducing their energy bills, but would also reduce the demand for fossil fuel consumption, overall benefitting the environment.

I am currently in the early stages of my product milestones, hoping to soon complete the process of concept refinement and detailing. However, as this is an innovative product, I am still attempting to overcome an array of design challenges and provide corresponding improvements to the given difficulties. Making use of the resources available to me at School, I have designed prospective prototypes using Fusion 360 (a computer-aided design software) and 3D printed the first concept model. From a financial perspective, after careful consideration and extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that it would be greatly beneficial to take advantage of the Wycombe Abbey Senior’s network; where it could potentially be open to be funded by former pupils who are also interested in reducing the impacts of the rising cost of living crisis, as well as the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. Moreover, aside to utilising School connections, I have also contacted other financial support companies, and specifically Grantify – a UK government cooperation which provides grants for tech-based projects, and they have expressed their interest in providing financial support for this innovative invention.

With the money, which I have gratefully received from the Atherton Award, I believe that it would be advantageous to utilise it to produce a small number of minimum viable products, post-design refinement, as well as further feasibility and market research. This will not only permit me to evaluate and validate my previous ideas but will also provide me with the opportunity to gain insight into the market’s reaction to the given product.

I would like to thank the School and members of staff for their ongoing support and encouragement, and I am fascinated to discover the potential trajectory of this product in the future.


Amber Atherton commented on Rebecca’s win: ‘The cost of living crisis is burgeoning as is irreversible climate change. 6.7million households are living in fuel poverty across the UK, an increase of more than 50% in just over six months. At the same time, the World Meteorological Organisation said there was a 66% chance that global temperatures would rise above the crucial 1.5 degrees Celsius-mark in the next five years. Today I am delighted to recognize Rebecca as the winner of The Atherton Award. Rebecca has created an AI technology that identifies wasted heat energy in households, and captures the heat, using it to generate power. This will reduce energy bills and fossil fuel consumption. Rebecca has shown great ambition and vision, as well as awareness that her product requires research, refinement and funding. Not being afraid to ask for help is a key skill to cultivate as a young entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to reach out cold to those who could mentor you. Remember people will always be impressed that you took a risk and believed in yourself to start something. Congratulations Rebecca and congratulations to everyone who entered. From social enterprises eradicating period poverty to coding websites for tutoring, Wycombe Abbey girls have entrepreneurial spirit in bucket loads and I can’t wait to watch, and maybe one day invest, in the incredible businesses you might build!’

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