Imperial-founded start-up win big at Duke of York’s entrepreneurship competition

Jelly Drops, who have invented super-hydrating sweets, beat 41 other entrepreneurs to secure a double victory at St James’s Palace.

Jelly Drops were announced as the overall winner at the competition’s final and also won the public vote, securing the Pitch@Palace People’s Choice Award. It is the first time a team has taken both titles in the competition’s history.

Hydrating sweets

Jelly Drops was founded by Lewis Hornby, Nick Hooton and Claudia Arnold, met whilst studying on the Innovation Design Engineering course, delivered jointly by Imperial and the Royal College of Art. They have created a sweet that can be given to dementia patients to combat dehydration, the leading cause of death among dementia sufferers.

Lewis Hornby first thought of the idea for Jelly Drops as a project to help his own grandmother, after realising she was having trouble staying hydrated.

According to Lewis, dehydration is one of the leading causes of death for people with dementia, itself the largest killer in the UK. He says that many people with dementia find eating easier and more intuitive than drinking, yet it is still difficult to encourage them to eat. Jelly Drops’ solution is to offer a treat that will excite and engage dementia patients while hydrating them.

The bright treats are made up of over 90% water and have added ingredients to optimise hydration. They are appealing to people with dementia, and the firm, easy to grip ‘drops’ makes them simple to pick up. The team have been trialling the treats in a number of care homes.

Jelly Drops now has over 1,000 care homes on a waiting list to trial the hydrating sweets and over 15,000 individuals waiting to purchase them. The team estimates the product will be commercially available by the end of 2019.

“Fantastic journey”

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