VFA logo with support session text

Competition categories

The competition categories feature Environment, Healthcare, Services, Social and Technology.

Each category features a first prize of £15,000 and a second prize of £5,000 to get businesses off to a flying start.


This category is for businesses that are involved in some meaningful way to minimise or even reverse the negative impact of themselves or others on the economy, environment or society - also known informally as profits, planet, and people. Ideas should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Your idea may also align with one or more of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Ideas for this category may include (but are not limited to):

  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Climate action
  • Conservation (land or ocean)
  • Digital circular economy solutions
  • Recycling solutions
  • Sustainable industrialisation and infrastructure development
  • Reduction in environmental pollution
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Waste prevention


The healthcare industry is a sector that provides medical goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative or palliative care. Healthcare businesses focus on the maintenance or improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, or cure of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in people of all ages and backgrounds.

Ideas for this category may include (but are not limited to):

  • Advanced care planning
  • Biotechnology
  • Care coordination technology
  • Health diagnostics software/hardware
  • Health or wellbeing products
  • Life sciences tools and services
  • Medical devices and equipment
  • Managed healthcare (insurance)
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Wellbeing initiatives and interventions.


A service business provides certain professional support to its clients. In these businesses, the product is not a tangible one, instead it's an activity that helps a third party in different areas. The business may deliver its services physically or digitally through web-based systems or apps.

Ideas in this category may include (but are not limited to):

  • Advertising
  • Apparel and design
  • Architecture
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Communications
  • Consultancy
  • Creative arts and culture
  • Food and beverage
  • Games
  • Financial services and banking
  • Hospitality
  • Household and personal products
  • Law
  • Leisure
  • Luxury goods
  • Marketing
  • Music
  • Publishing
  • Real estate
  • Recruitment
  • Retail
  • Textiles
  • TV and film

Social enterprise

A social enterprise is a business that is changing the world for the better. Like traditional businesses, social enterprises aim to make a profit applying commercial strategies to deliver products and services, however, they will reinvest or donate profits to create positive social change. Their core social values should focus on creating a positive impact, improving the lives and social wellbeing of people and communities. Social business focus on business for good - when they profit, society profits.

Each entry should detail how all / the majority of profits will be reinvested into the business or community for the purpose of achieving the social mission rather than maximising profit for shareholders and owners.

Examples of well-known Social Enterprises include The Big Issue, Co-op, Divine Chocolate, and Eden Project.

View examples of Greater Manchester Social Enterprises.

Please note: this category is NOT for social media platform development based ideas.


This category is for businesses that apply new and emerging technologies to generate new experiences, innovative business opportunities or provide potentially radical and disruptive solutions to real-world problems.

Ideas may revolve around the manufacturing of electronics, the creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology. Alternatively, they may address significant industrial challenges and technological advancements arising from new knowledge or the innovative application of existing knowledge, taking the form of new products, materials, processes.

Ideas in the category may include (but are not limited to):

  • Aerospace and defence
  • Artificial intelligence
  • App development
  • Blockchain
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Construction and engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data and analytics
  • Digital economy
  • Fintech
  • IT consulting
  • IT infrastructure
  • Internet of things
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Software development
  • Semiconductors
  • Software as a service
  • Technology hardware and equipment
  • Transportation technologies
  • Utilities improvements
  • Virtual reality