The hunt is on for the best student and graduate business ideas!
Are you a current college or university student or did you graduate after 2016? Are you running a business? Or do you have a business idea that could be the next BIG thing?
Proud to be supported by Tata for over 10 years now to celebrate and showcase the phenomenal entrepreneurial talent coming out of colleges and universities across the country.
To date, the competition has seen and championed over 1,500 Varsity Pitch alumnus, many involved, not just in our competition but beyond too.
Applications are now open for this year’s Tata Varsity Pitch 2021, your opportunity to compete for the prize pot of £15,000 equity free cash, with an array of priceless opportunities to excel you and your business.
The three-stage competition includes an ‘Online Peoples’ Vote’, a 2-day bootcamp with an impressive line-up of industry experts, highly innovative support organisations and an exclusive Grand Final with well-respected individuals from the entrepreneurial eco-system.
The competition is open to any current students at a UK university or college or anyone who graduated after 2016.
- About the competition
- The Categories
About Tata Varsity Pitch Competition
Tata Varsity Pitch 2021, powered by NACUE is an annual, national early-stage business pitching competition, that celebrates the best businesses exploding out of colleges and universities across the UK. It represents one of the flagship enterprise events as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), highlighting and showcasing the entrepreneurial flair of young businesses for over 10 years now.
Open to both current students and graduates since 2016, applicants have the opportunity to apply in two categories, simply by submitting a 60 second video pitch, presenting their radical business solution and innovative ideas. It’s that simple!
In October, 30 shortlisted applicants will be asked to pitch their ideas online at the virtual semi-finals to a highly regarded panel of judges. The winner of the Online Peoples’ Vote, the applicant who successfully runs the most engaging viral campaign and obtained the highest number of votes, will be joined by the finalists of each of the 6 categories, to progress onto the Bootcamp later in the month.
The Grand Final* will see the seven startups competing to win the £15,000 equity free funding and a national title bestowed upon them in Global Entrepreneurship Week, in November 2021. Each finalist will have three minutes to pitch their concept to an esteemed panel of industry experts, in order to become the 2021 winner.
Triple your chances of success in our competition by entering TWO categories of your choice, as well as automatically entering the Online Peoples' Vote!
|Is your business making the world a better place? This category is for social enterprises and ethically conscious businesses with passion to have make a difference and significant impact.|
|For companies that are truly changing the way things are traditionally done; your product or service is improving the market in an unexpected way.|
|Is yours a new idea or a more effective ways of doing things? If your product or service is unique or improving something that already exists in the market, enter this category.|
CREATIVE & DESIGN
|We welcomes entries from those whose businesses have a creative flair, ranging from crafts, music, to marketing; showcase the diversity amongst the creative industries.|
DIGITAL AND TECHNICAL
|Some of the fastest growing businesses in the global economy in the last 5 years have been apps and online ventures. If you think that your app, hardware or online product has the potential to change the status quo, then we want to see your application.|
|Do you happen to have an astonishing idea? Do you believe that your idea will be the next ‘big thing’? Well look no further as this category is exclusively dedicated to those fledgling ideas.|
ONLINE PEOPLES’ VOTE
We are giving one team the chance to be fast-tracked from the application stage straight through to becoming a finalist, simply by creating an online viral campaign to promote your video entry. So, get thinking how you can showcase your idea succinctly...
The applicant with the highest number of digital votes by midday on Friday 24th September 2021 and will be announced along with our shortlisted candidates for the semi-finals on Wednesday 29th September.
Each application will be automatically eligible to participate in the Online Peoples’ Vote, all you need to do is get those votes!!
Get your friends, family, teachers, your next-door neighbour… anyone you can think of to vote for your application. They can do this by heading to the Varsity Pitch website and signing up via social media and then clicking the thumbs up icon. Voting Opens Midday on Monday 20th September to Midday Friday 24th September 2021.
Sharing on social media? Remember to use the hashtag #VP2021.
When do entries open & close?
Entries open at 12:00 Midday on Wednesday 2nd June and close at 12:00 Midday on Friday 3rd September 2021
When will I find out if I’ve reached the semi-final?
You will be contacted on either Friday 24th or Monday 27th September 2021. Please ensure that you have provided the correct contact details on your application. If you have not received confirmation by close of business on the 27th September 2021, regrettably you have been unsuccessful this year. Due to the significant number of applications we receive, unfortunately we are unable to provide individual feedback.
Do I need to be available for all dates?
If you are shortlisted, you will be required to pitch online on Wednesday, 6th October 2021. We appreciated that many Tata Varsity Pitch applicants, due to the current pandemic, might have returned to their home countries or might feel anxious about travelling. As a result, we will be hosting this year's semi-finals virtually.
If you are later selected as a category finalist, you must be able to attend the 2-day mandatory online bootcamp on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th October 2021 and the Grand Final* on week commencing 8th November 2021.
The Grand Final event* is based in London and travel and accommodation are at the applicant's own expense.
*In light of the ongoing health crisis, we are following government guidelines in regard to COVID-19 and potential implications relating to hosting a physical event. If Government advice does not allow for social gatherings on this scale, we will make provisions for the Grand Final event of the competition to be hosted virtually. Watch this space for further updates.
Someone in our group isn’t a student or recent graduate – can we still apply?
Yes, certainly. So long as at least one member of your business meets the guidelines then it does not matter if there are other members who do not. If this is the case, the submission should be in the name of the individual who meets the eligibility criteria.
I have returned to my home country, I'm exceptionally keen to enter the competition although I'm not sure whether I will physically be back in the UK?
You can enter the competition from any location around the world. If you are shortlisted but you cannot return to the UK for all stages of the competition, we will make provisions for you to participate virtually.
I have an existing video pitch which is longer than 60 seconds – can I still enter it?
You are welcome to enter an existing video however the judges will only take the first 60 seconds into consideration when shortlisting, to keep the process fair. You should ensure therefore that all the relevant information is included in those first 60 seconds. It is strongly recommended that you review the ‘’ which recommends the aspects to include.
Can I apply if my concept is only at the idea stage?
Absolutely, the ‘Ideas’ category is just for you! We’re looking for the most creative and innovative ideas out there, whether they are just an idea on paper or a fully-fledged business already selling a product. Remember every business needs to start somewhere...
If I have already submitted my application can I update my 60 second video pitch?
How do I know that the other applicants Online Peoples’ Vote is genuine?
Any pitches which have unusual or suspicious voting activity on them will be subject to investigation by NACUE and if we are not satisfied with the explanation for said unusual activity, the application will be removed from our site and disqualified from this and all future NACUE competitions.
How does the Online Peoples’ Vote work?
This year’s Online People’s Vote will open 12:00 Midday Monday 20th September to 12:00 Midday Friday 24th September 2021. All submitted video pitches will then be published onto our Varsity Pitch page and you can then share this amongst your networks to gain votes, so get preparing your strategy! Your supporters can vote for your video pitch and the one with the highest number of votes will be fast-tracked to the Grand Final in Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Online People’s Vote winner be contacted first and then publicly announced on Wednesday 29th September via social media, so keep an eye out...
*If you wish not to participate in the Online Peoples’ Vote, you can opt out on the application form.
How do you envision the Tata Varsity Pitch working if you are unable to host physical events?
In light of the current situation, we are following government guidelines in regard to COVID-19 and potential implications relating to hosting a physical event. If we are unable to host physical events, we will make provisions for Grand Final event of the competition to be hosted virtually.
Terms and Conditions
These terms and conditions apply to the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2021 grand prize of £15,000 and without acceptance of these terms we will be unable to process your prize. Therefore, we require that no Directors of the company:
Work for or have any formal connection with (other than as winners of the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition) NACUE (registered charity number 1139550) or NACUE UK Limited (Company number 6885463)
Have been disqualified as a director or barred from owning or managing a company
Have not been involved in or convicted of any fraudulent or criminal dealings
Have not been made or declared bankrupt in the last 5 years
All of the £15,000 prize money must be re-invested in the business and must not be used for personal use or gain
The winners of the Tata Varsity Pitch 2021 will need to hold a bank account in their company name. If you don’t hold one already and win the competition, you will be required to set up a bank account in the company name.