A group photo of the Wales StartUp Awards 2022 winners. (Credit: StartUp Awards National Series)

A group photo of the Wales StartUp Awards 2022 winners. (Credit: StartUp Awards National Series)

Two Swansea University graduate-led businesses have received top honours at this year's Wales StartUp Awards.

The awards celebrate the achievements of those exceptional individuals who have had a great idea, spotted an opportunity and taken risks to launch a new product or service, like this year's Wales StartUp of the Year, Drop Bear Beer Co.

Swansea University alumna Joelle Drummond and her partner and co-founder, Sarah McNena, founded Drop Bear in 2019 after discovering a lack of variety within the non-alcoholic beer market.

Since its humble beginnings in Joelle's kitchen, Drop Bear has become the UK's top-rated specialist brewer of alcohol-free craft beers.

As the world's first female and LGBTQIA+ founded alcohol-free brewery, Drop Bear consistently challenges stereotypes and strives to diversify a traditional industry, highlighted by its additional three wins at the Wales StartUp Awards:

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Swansea Bay StartUp of the Year
  • Green StartUp of the Year

On this latest recognition, Joelle said: "We are honoured to have won four awards at the Wales StartUp Awards.

"Our journey with Drop Bear has been incredible, and whilst we are rapidly growing our national and international presence, we remain a proud Welsh business; to receive a standing ovation from our local business community was very emotional.

"As a two-time graduate of Swansea University, it's been a real honour to work with its enterprise team and to support their innovative approach to developing entrepreneurship at Swansea."

For catering software company Dill it was also an evening of celebrations after being named Graduate StartUp of the Year.

Sponsored by Universities Wales, the Graduate StartUp category is open to start-ups in Wales founded by individuals who have graduated from a Welsh university in the past three years.

Alex-Ioan Coldea, Founder and Swansea University Computer Science graduate, introduced the app in 2020.

In just two years, Dill has been introduced to several schools, local authorities, universities, and colleges, implementing software-intensive solutions that remove hardware excess, lower maintenance costs, and streamline catering services.

Kelly Jordan, Senior Enterprise Officer at Swansea University, said: "Both Joelle and Sarah are inspiring modern entrepreneurs, and we are extremely proud of them, not just for the multiple awards they continuously win, but for the example of inspirational entrepreneurship they are demonstrating."

"It's also fantastic to see Alex and his business Dill going from strength to strength. His app is taking universities by storm, cutting wait times, and increasing productivity and profit. This award, amongst others he has won, is truly deserved."

“Both Drop Bear and Dill are excellent examples of the entrepreneurial talent that comes out of Swansea University, and we are grateful to get the opportunity to offer our students the chance to turn their business ideas into reality.”

Are you a budding entrepreneur? Find out more about how the University can support you.

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