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University of Portsmouth graduate could win £25,000 for clothing label system for blind and visually impaired people

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A University of Portsmouth graduate’s business specialising in a new clothing label system for blind and visually impaired people, is in with a chance to receive up to £25,000 worth of seed funding this autumn.

Faye Clarke is a finalist for the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards in London in October.

The MRes Creative Industries student is writing her dissertation on the problems that blind and severely visually imapired people have with clothing identification, and coming up with potential solutions.

Faye’s business, Ma’s House, is developing a new smart labelling system for the blind and visually impaired. Digitally enhanced clothing labels provide information to a smartphone app, giving the user a verbal description of the garment, with access to other practical and personalised information such as access to online shopping.

Ma’s house has received support from Nest, the University’s startup incubator for students and graduates, and Santander Universities, which has provided entrepreneurship and development training, workshops, and other support.

Faye said: “It has truly been a phenomenal experience. I have met so many amazing entrepreneurial businesses along this journey with Santander. Along with Nest they have taught me so much on how to build and grow my business, taking it from an idea, to a research paper finalising with a potential viable business.”

The product has been tested in partnership with the local charity Open Sight Hampshire. Zoe Hanscombe, of Open Sight added: “This ingenious invention would benefit anyone living with sight loss, enabling them to select their own clothes independently. Whether for fashion, colour, seasonal or casual wear, this technology gives everyone the choice.
Our visually impaired members have very much enjoyed meeting Faye and helping with some of her research, as the product would bring a whole new prospect to independent living.”

The Entrepreneurship Awards are one of the UK’s largest such competitions for students and recent graduates. The 12 businesses shortlisted are competing to be one of two winning entries to win prizes of up to £25,000 of seed funding. The two runners up will receive £15,000 of seed funding.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented: “Young entrepreneurs are the future backbone of our economy so it’s vital we encourage and support them to make their business dreams a reality. We’re thrilled to announce the 12 finalists and we look forward to judging this year’s most creative and innovative UK talent at the finals in October.”

Since the awards were launched in 2011, Santander Universities has awarded more than £420,000 to budding student entrepreneurs, and given universities such as University of Portsmouth the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the UK.

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