Yesterday, Tuesday 16th October 2018, some of the UK’s brightest entrepreneurs headed to NatWest Accelerator Hub in London to pitch for their place in the NACUE’s 9th Varsity Pitch Semi-Final. The Varsity Pitch Competition invited students and graduates to pitch their business ideas for the chance to win £10,000 equity free cash.
Thirty competitors across six categories had just two minutes to pitch their ideas and then four minutes of Q&A to impress our esteemed judges, all who have an array of expertise and specialisms. NACUE has been hosting the competition for almost a decade and the quality of the pitches and ideas this year were of the highest calibre ever received.
Digital and Technical
Opening this year’s Varsity Pitch Competition Semi Finals was the Digital and Technical Category, sponsored by NatWest. The morning kicked off with the founder of Adelie Health, followed by Bubble Mind, Eat Safe, Pukket and finally UniDosh.
After difficult deliberations, the judges, Jodie Hughes, Cheryl Gourlay and Dale Sidebottom, highly commended two pitches as they just couldn’t choose between them – Pukket from Royal Holloway University and UniDosh from Nottingham Trent University. Their overall winner was Adelie Health from the University of Aberdeen, with their great delivery and who will now proceed onto the finals on Monday 12th November 2018 for a chance to win the grand prize.
Dale Sidebottom, Regional Entrepreneur Director at NatWest said of their finalist, ”Solving a real need, know the market, explored the business model and confidently pitched. A clear winner!”
Creative and Design
Next up was the Creative and Design category sponsored by the University of Westminster. Pitchers eagerly took to the stage showcasing a combination of start-ups with tangible products and online services. Adorn Events Boutique, Hexad Brewing, Miro Solutions UK, Ria Burns Knitwear and lastly Turtle Pack.
The judges, Shelia Birungi, Spinder Dhaliwal and Cheryl Gourlay, were overwhelmed by all the pitches, saying that they were all winners! Again, the judges said they agonised over the winner, highly commending Miro Solutions UK from University of Wesminster but their category winner was unanimously Turtle Pack from Heriot Watt University, who delivered a great pitch performance. Congratulations to all the start-ups that participated in this category.
Spinder Dhaliwal, Director of Postgraduate Programmes and Reader in Entrepreneurship, spoke highly of Turtle Pack saying, “Great pitch, innovative with scalability and great future potential!”
Semi-finalists in the Genuine Innovation Category sponsored by the New Beacon Group, pitched their businesses to Mark Mabey, Shelley Carter and Michelle Fasham. Aeropot, Gilaasi, Grocemanina, Microspray and lastly Syrona, did an outstanding job as they fiercely competed for a spot in the finals. Microspray from University College London was highly commended, coming a close second to the winner Gilaasi from Imperial College London, who blew the judges away with their knowledge and passion and was crowned the worthy finalist of this year’s Genuine Innovation Category. Congratulations!
Mark Mabey, Deputy CEO and Director of Higher Education, commented that these outstanding set of pitches which were engaging, there was proper innovation in all of them and all were diverse and the reason they struggled to choose the winner. Overall, Gilaasi, had the edge and was truly innovative.”
Next up were the ‘Ideas’ Category, dedicated to early stage entrepreneurs. Category sponsors, Ideas Patch and its IP Collaborates, understand how important it is to foster and develop talent from the beginning. Providing a cash prize of £500 for the best ‘Idea’, which can have a significant impact on a small business, they eagerly looked forward to the pitching.
The Ideas Category was filled with great ideas from entrepreneurs across the spectrum, with Lonbrella, Points4spending, Recoheat, Urologic and Vitality Hub, all competing additionally for this special prize.
After much discussion, the judges, Cristina Penine, Simon Krystman and Claudia Duffy highly commended Recoheat from Teeside University but were just pipped to the post by Urologic from the University of Cambridge as their winner.
Simon Krystman, Founder of Ideas Patch, exclaimed “Incredible! We loved the ideas, all of them but focused in the main on innovation to make our decision but looked at other areas too. Dr. Claudia Duffy, European Patent Attorney and IP Consultant, reiterated that, adding too that “Urologic could disrupt the sector, had clear routes to market and that their idea could be carried through and ticked all the boxes.”
Tata Social Impact
The Tata Social Impact category was the most competitive category of all, with the highest number of entries.
It was a pleasure to welcome G Subramanian of Tata Consultancy Services, Vanessa Gidwani of Tata Steel Europe and Kamal Desai from Tata limited, to judge both the Tata Social Impact and Tata Disruptive Business categories. Tata were seriously impressed by the entries for both categories and had to take an additional 25 minutes to make their decision!
AMO, Project O.D.I.N., Thirsti, Tree Sparks and WASE were the pitches for the Social Impact category, all were highly impressive in their delivery. However, after much needed deliberation, both Tree Sparks from Bangor University and Thirsti from University of York were highly commended, whilst WASE from Brunel University secured their worthy place in the Grand Final.
G Subramanian, Principal Innovation Evangalist, said that was low maintenance and had an NGO in their target market which was good.”
After much deliberation and debate, Tata were pleased to announce their highly commended were Crover Ltd from the University of Edinburgh and Phytoform Labs from Imperial College London University. The final category winner of the day for the 2018 Varsity Pitch competition was Chip[s] Board Ltd from Kingston University.
G Subramanian commented on their winner, “They are very innovative in their way of recycling and have a good market place.”
NACUE would like to thank Tata for their support, our category sponsors University of Westminster, NatWest, New Beacon Group, Ideas Patch and its collaborators and Lloyds Banking Group. Special thanks to the judges for giving up their valuable time to invest in these rising startups.
And finally, thanks to all of our brilliant competitors on a job well done, to each and every one of you!