14 June 2024

Thirteen businesses from across the globe faced their industry peers yesterday (Thursday 13 June) as they presented cutting-edge solutions at the Isle of Man's highly anticipated Innovation Challenge Finale event at the Comis Hotel. The event hosted over 250 attendees across the day from the business community.

The winners for the Cleantech category were Re-Universe for their packaging return and reuse system. Acentrik (Mercedes-Benz) were the winners of the Data and AI category for their leading data exchange solution. Umazi were winners of the Fintech category with their solution designed to address challenges related to client data and on-boarding for businesses. The Biosphere winner was 4Learn for their innovative PLAI software, which offers customised learning solutions in education.

Run by the Department for Enterprise's Executive Agencies—Digital Isle of Man, Business Isle of Man, and Finance Isle of Man—with the support of the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority and UNESCO Biosphere, the initiative aims to help businesses scale up their operations and expand into new markets.

The Challenge featured finalists competing in Cleantech, Data and AI, and Fintech, with a special award for recognition of the Biosphere impact. Each finalist had 10 minutes to present their ground-breaking solutions to address specific challenges and drive the growth of technological innovation in the Isle of Man.

The 2024 Innovation Challenge built on the success of last year’s inaugural Fintech Innovation Challenge, with this year seeing two more categories—Data and AI, and Cleantech—added to the programme.

The Challenge attracted a diverse international cohort of participants, with over 50 applications received from 20 countries.

Following a rigorous selection process in April, 13 finalists with solutions to some of the Island’s pressing technology needs were announced. The finalists were chosen by an esteemed panel of judges drawn from leading financial, digital, and sustainable businesses in the Isle of Man.

The finalists, hailing from the UK, Denmark, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, were selected for their ambition and potential. Over the last six months, they have worked to develop new products that meet a selection of key challenges.

The panel of judges evaluated the presentations based on criteria such as market potential, scalability, and the potential for positive impact on the Isle of Man's technology sector.

The biosphere was also a significant theme throughout the day, with finalists demonstrating how their solutions positively impacted the Island’s UNESCO Biosphere status.

Keynotes also took place from computer scientist and AI expert Professor Sue Black OBE, and data strategist Mike Rose. Chief Minister, Hon Alfred Cannan MHK, and Minister for Enterprise, Hon Tim Johnston MHK, attended, both taking to the stage and offering their support to the finalists and championing innovation.

Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise, said: ‘The Innovation Challenge is all about encouraging and celebrating innovations which are not only sound in concept – but have real-world applications, and real-world benefits which have a positive impact on the communities and industries they serve.

‘The Innovation Challenge is a demonstration of this commitment in practice. Through this initiative, we bring together government, regulatory bodies, and industry leaders in a collaborative effort to nurture technological advancements that are both innovative and eco-conscious, which is key to fulfilling the ambitions of our Island Plan and Economic Strategy.’

The winners in each category will now receive additional promotion and publicity both locally and internationally. They will also have extended access to the Isle of Man’s marketplace of mentors, potential investors, and customers across various sectors, regulators, and government officers for six months.