Posted Monday 2 September 2019
Inspirational entrepreneur and Kingston University and St George's, University of London nursing graduate Neomi Bennett BEM has picked up two national awards for her innovative Neo-slip stocking aid which helps the application of compression stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
The registered nurse, who graduated in 2012, was honoured with a prestigious Royal College of Nursing Institute award and also recognised at the Duke of York's Pitch@Palace, which showcases entrepreneurs' enterprising business ideas and provides a platform to amplify and advance them.
The 46-year-old from Wandsworth, who works shifts in a hospital to ensure she still has direct contact with patients, landed the ‘Innovations in your Specialty' gong for her Neo-slip stocking aid at the RCNi awards, which celebrate excellence in nursing and recognise the most impressive nurse-lead projects in recent years. "I was shocked to win because during the judging sessions I met so many amazing nurses doing phenomenal things and I didn't think I stood a chance," Neomi said. "The event allowed me to make great connections and since winning the award we have received an increased interest from hospitals across the UK with many requesting us to visit for a demonstration of the Neo-slip," she added.
Neomi was given the royal seal of approval at St James's Palace as her business was selected as one of the top three of the 42 shortlisted at the Duke of York's Pitch@Palace awards. As a result, she was invited to meet the Duke of York and has been offered advice and guidance whenever she needs it.
"He told me he would be there if I needed any help as they've created a huge network of entrepreneurs over the years," Neomi said. "I met the CEO of EasyJet, the founder of toiletry company King of Shaves and some amazing start ups. I learned a lot from other entrepreneurs including struggles that they have faced, how they overcame them as well as tips on how to maintain healthy cash flow. I formed some great contacts that I can now network with for advice on business which is absolutely fantastic," she added.
The nurse's idea for the product, which are particularly helpful for elderly people with reduced dexterity and mobility, came during her time at Kingston University where she successfully pitched her idea at the annual Bright Ideas entrepreneurial awards in 2011.
Neomi credits the undergraduate course for giving her the grounding for her Neo-innovations business, which launched in 2014, and believes it helped her grow as a person. "I was able to transfer most of what I learned as a student nurse to help develop my business and my final dissertation at Kingston University is the Bible of my company. As a mature student without few qualifications I didn't understand the process of starting or running a business but Kingston helped me change my mind-set and enabled me to get Neo-Slip from an idea to a business," she said.
Neomi also reserved praise for the University's enterprise team for helping her business come to fruition. "Kingston helped me identify the gap in the market and I really believe it's the best university in the country for helping to take a business forward. I'm a big advocate for the enterprise team, they supported my learning to understand key things like business plans, invoicing, manufacturing and wholesaling," she said. "I would encourage any current or former students to utilise the facilities on offer to take their business forward," Neomi added.
With more than 10,000 of her Neo-slip stockings now sold and being used in hospitals across the country, Neomi is looking to develop the product even further and take it abroad. "We are running trials in France, Belgium and Holland and are currently working with worldwide pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to help with our new packaging and expand our customer reach in to more retail based pharmacies," she said.