Meet Our Finalists for the Tata Varsity Pitch , Powered by NACUE

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The semi-finalists of the Tata Varsity Pitch 2019 powered by NACUE competed last week, 17th October 2019 for a place in the Grand Final, a chance to win £15,000 and a national title. A record 424 applications were received, an appropriate increase for the 10-year anniversary of the competition and NACUE’s 10-year celebratory commitment to ‘Powering the Enterprising Generation’, by supporting talented and ambitious young people, committed to innovating their own career through enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Competitors were welcomed to NatWest’s London Accelerator Hub:

“It was an absolute pleasure to host the Tata Varsity Pitching Event today in the London NatWest Accelerator. The businesses that pitched today were extremely high quality, even rivalling the other businesses that we support in the NatWest Accelerator. […] On top of that, the pitches were engaging, insightful and well delivered. An amazing event all round and congratulations to all the winners!” Georgina Mackey, Natwest Entrepreneur Development Manager London

Thirty entrepreneurs were divided into six categories, each had just two minutes to pitch their business followed by a five-minute Q&A. The judging panel altered with each category to ensure the semi-finalists were being judged by relevant Tata group experts in their field.

The first to pitch was the highly competitive Creative & Design Category with Tata Consultancy Service which set the high standard for the day to come. The category demonstrated originality in design from Turtle Pack, a nesting children’s swimming aid to Petit Pli, clothes designed to grow with children. Also displaying their design innovations were CosiCare, a handheld cooling device for eczema sufferers, Lyster Surcraft Ltd with their durable wooden surfboard and Chip[s]Board finished off the category with their plastic alternative made entirely of food waste.

The judges consisted of: Tata Consultancy Services colleagues G Subramanian, CTO- UK & Ireland- Tata Consultancy Services; Rodger Oates, Partner, Tata Consultancy Services; and Stephanie Bazin, Design Director- Tata Consultancy Services, who after careful consideration chose CosiCare as the winner of Creative & Design with Tata Consultancy Servies Category.

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CosiCare, founded by Lauren Bell of Brunel University London, pitched their hand-held itch relief device. Covered in a removable silicone cover the device cools to 5 degrees centigrade in just 20 seconds. The cold treats the itch, the device vibrates to mimic the sensation of scratching, whilst the star shape mimics the hand position of scratching. CosiCare tackles the pain of eczema as well as the psychological coping mechanism of scratching to ween from scratching and relieve children’s pain without risk of breaking their skin.

The Genuine Innovation with Tata Global Beverage category was no less striking as the pitchers continued to impress the audience and judges. The category included medical businesses such as VUI Diagnostics, an optometry technology company dedicated to ending avoidable blindness, Little Sparks Hospital whom tackle children’s anxiety during procedures and Kaydiar, with their new insole for diabetic patients. Jelly Drops shared their edible hydration sweet, with one treat delivering the same amount of hydration as a glass of water to dementia sufferers. Additionally, Spyras presented with their idea of how to catch sepsis early.

Competitors were judged by: Graeme Karavis, Managing Director UK & Ireland Tata Global Beverage; and Amy Holdsworth, Customer Development Director of Tata Global Beverages, whom chose Spyras as the winner of Genuine Innovation with Tata Global Beverage Category.

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Spyras aims to tackle sepsis with just a piece of paper. Spyras have designed a method to monitor patients’ breathing rates with a piece of conductive paper which has the possibility to detect septic shock early. This technology has many other possible applications, from athletes to insomniacs, this cheap way of monitoring breathing rates can save lives and improve others. Founder George Winfield of Loughborough University said:

“It’s nice to see familiar faces and fresh new ideas, I love any opportunity to bounce ideas off other entrepreneurs”.

The morning was rounded off by the Digital and Technical category with Jaguar Land Rover. Competitors delivered their pitches passionately and concisely. SchoolxCo conveyed their wish to connect teachers and students worldwide to ensure all children have access to education. Refund Giant was too eradicating borders with their international service to deliver VAT refunds with ease. InMotion explained their mobility think lab service and Motics their physiotherapy tool. Cotswold Health Technology finished the category’s pitches with their device to help Parkinsons’ disease sufferers walk.

The candidates were reviewed by: Chantelle Powers, Engagement Consultant Jaguar Land Rover; Miles cook, Jaguar Land Rover; and Joel Rowden, Product Engineering Graduate Jaguar Land Rover.

“It’s great to see innovation from young people, especially with such passion. You can definitely see that they’ve developed business acumen and have been proactive with feedback they have received” Chantelle Powers, Engagement Consultant Jaguar Land Rover.

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Motics were announced as the winner of this category for their approach to redesigning physiotherapy. With a hardware sleeve, and software to monitor progress, Motics aim to half the recovery time of patients in physiotherapy.

“We are very grateful to NACUE for putting on this event, it provides a good network with other likeminded entrepreneurs” ~ Harvinder Power, founder of Motics and student at Imperial College London.

The Ideas with Tata Communications category featured a large variety of businesses. From Tree Sparks with their online education service encouraging Forestry careers in young adults, to Black Goblin Audio a company making professional sound available to all. MyPainScore and FirstStep aimed to help individuals with their medical recoveries. MyPainScore created an app for chronic pain sufferers and FirstStep an at home testing kit for survivors of sexual assault. Calorie Balance also pitched in this category with their white kidney bean extract to help tackle obesity in China.

The specialist panel of judges for this category were: Shubhra Jain, Associate Director, Mobility and IoT; Amit Sharma, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Alliances Tata Communications; and Bijaya Basu, Global Head of Sports Sponsorships Tata Communications.

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The judged awarded FirstStep the winner of the Ideas with Tata Communications Category. FirstStep’s at home bio-testing kit to help the victims of sexual assault will be put in communal places such as University Halls of Residence. FirstStep will empower survivors of sexual assault with a method of collecting legal evidence without the shame of an invasive examination.

Founder Molly Steadman, a student at Imperial College London “has been previously involved in NACUE events and [is] grateful they offer such prestigious opportunities”.

The penultimate category of the competition was Tata Social Impact, with the wide range of start-up businesses delivering different social impacts the competition was anyone’s game. The BioFactory Ltd opened the category with their toilet block that converts waste into biogas. That’s Caffeine and Chips[s]Board both competed for their plastic alternatives. That’s Caffeine uses bio-resin and used coffee grounds for their plastic alternative, and Chip[s]Board is made entirely from used food waste. Mitt Wearables’ impact was trans-continental with European customers purchasing their lighter prosthetic arm with interchangeable tools, and their old models being charitably given to Indian limb loss individuals. Shellpod Shampoo hoped to eradicate single use plastic in hotels with their shampoo sheet travel size alternative.

The accredited judges of this category were: Vanessa Gidwani, Tata Steel Europe; Tomas Luko, Taj Hotels; and Kamal Desai, Tata Ltd, who chose The BioFactory as the winner for this category

“We felt that the implications of the business worldwide would be so beneficial that we could not ignore that”. Kamal Desai, Tata Ltd.

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TheBioFactory plans to install toilet blocks in communal areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The block will then automatically turn the waste products into a biogas which can be sold back to the users for the same local price as charcoal but with a kinder environmental impact.

TheBioFactory’s Eoin Sharkey from the University of Bath said: “he really enjoyed being in the room with such inspirational people”.

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Finally, the competition was rounded off with the Tata Disruptive Business category. Future Forge explained their energy efficient method of manufacturing whilst Ichosia Biotechnology explained their Stem Cell based methodology to create cleaner blood. ExHand prosthetics described the benefits of their AI prosthetic leg socket and Plastech Innovation Limited their innovative mix for concrete.

The candidates were also judged by: Vanessa Gidwani, Tata Steel Europe; Tomas Luko, Taj Hotels; and Kamal Desai, Tata Ltd, who this time chose Plastech Innovation Limited as the winner of Tata Disruptive Category.

“I am inspired and it is so encouraging that there are so many young minds talking about social impact world-wide.” ~ Tomas Luko, Taj Hotels

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Plastech Innovation Limited use post-consumer plastics than cannot be recycled and reuse it in concrete in place of sand. It produces a stronger concrete, reuses otherwise unusable plastic, and reduces sand usage too.

The Co-Founder of Plastech, Natasha Boulding of University of Durham said they “really enjoyed pitching today, it was a really interesting competition and great to network with such established businesses.

Tata Varsity Pitch 2019 Online People’s Vote Winner Totawell from the University of Sheffield will be joining the six finalists at the two-day bootcamp on Mon 28th and Tuesday 29th October, before they compete on November 20th at the British Library’s Knowledge Centre.

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Tata’s Varsity Pitch, powered by NACUE’s Semi-Finals were a showcase of innovation, originality, and young talent. CosiCare, Motics, FirstStep, TheBioFactory Ltd, Plastech Innovation Limited and Totawell Ltd. will compete in the grand-final at the British Library’s Knowledge Centre for equity free £15,000 on the 20th November 2019.

Join us at our Grand-Final and see for yourself the talent of these young entrepreneurs! Admittance is free, simply follow the link below to register:

With grateful thanks to…

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Abbie Howard

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