One year on with our #VP2018 Finalists

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It has been almost one year since some of UK’s brightest students and graduates participated in the 2018 Varsity Pitch Finals. Today, you can find these successful entrepreneurs filing patents, securing major distribution deals or even starting new business ideas. It is safe to say, that Tata’s Varsity Pitch competition powered by NACUE, builds an enriching foundation that allows start-ups to flourish.

Let’s take a look at last year’s finalists and winner:

Adelie Health, finalist of the Digital & Technical Category captivated the audience with their app that connected with ‘PenPal’ and tracked usage to help insulin users stay on top of their diabetes. In June 2019, we caught up with founder, Liam McMorrow as to where Adelie Health is 6 months after being #VP2018 finalist.

“We’ve filed a patent on our pen cap and designed our companion app. We’re currently putting together an investor-ready business plan and preparing to engage with investors.”

They recently won the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge, which is the biggest diabetes company in the world. What an amazing accomplishment!

Liam says his highlight of last year’s competition was the bootcamp day, with “back-to-back one-hour mentoring with a wide range of experts. It was useful to get diverse feedback from people outside of our sector.”

The Creative and Design category winner was Turtle Pack. They created a unique swimming aid that allows children to not only have fun but also be safe in the water.

Founder & CEO Michael says that during the last 6 months

“Turtle Pack has evolved into 3 stages: Swim Products/Accessories; Swim Academy Franchise; and 3rd Party Licensing. Turtle Pack Ltd started trading on the 7th January 2019. Since launching, we have sold to 23 countries around the world, secured major distribution deals and are currently in discussions with companies such as Inter Sport, Virgin Active UK and Greenwich Leisure Limited.”

Michael commented that the “Varsity Pitch is a fantastic competition, that helps you evaluate and analyse your business in more detail to ensure future success.”

Gilaasi from Imperial College London, took the finalist slot in 2018 for the Genuine Innovation category. This team created the world’s first pair of glasses that can switch to sunglasses with just one tap, removing the hassle of carrying around two pairs of glasses! Things are moving quickly for Gilaasi as founder Bukki Adedapo says, “We raised a pre-seed round of funding late last year from Angels, which has enabled us to develop our prototype from purely functional, to aesthetic.” The competition allowed Gilaasi to connect with freelance engineers and eyewear designers that can help perfect the product.

Tata Disruptive category’s finalist was, Chip[s] Board Ltd from Kingston University. When asked, ‘How has your idea sustained and grown?’, the co-founders Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll expressed that, “Chip[s] Board has redeveloped how best to utilise the potato waste supply and has since created a versatile plastic alternative.” They also make a point to say, “Winning isn’t everything. Take advantage of every aspect of the competition, often the contacts that we make become more valuable than the prize money itself.”

This competition was very instrumental for Chip[s] Board, they express how Varsity Pitch, “allowed us to discuss the innovation with both fellow entrepreneurs and industry experts.”

Musemio won the Online People’s Vote. Co-Founders, Kaitlin Fritz and Olga Kravchenko created an innovative way for children to see cultural institutions all over the world. Reflecting upon the past 12 months, they exclaim,

“We are thrilled to say that we have closed our pre-seed round of funding with the support of an Angel investor and Bethnal Green Ventures, which will allow us to take Musemio to the next level…through UCL Educate and Finland xEdu programs, we have refined our technology, business proposition and have grown our academic research of VR education.”

What a phenomenal accomplishment! They advise for future Varsity Pitch finalists to, “Have fun! You have to enjoy the event, cherish the little things and learn from each other. We are all entrepreneurs going on this same journey of business development, just on different routes.”

The remarkably competitive Tata Social Impact category was overall won by WASE from Brunel University. A revolutionary social enterprise, developing a decentralised wastewater treatment system, that helps in recovering energy nutrients and water in wastewater. 6 months after winning the competition, WASE have their first pilot system operating in Italy and are planning their second phase pilot next to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Founder, Thomas Fudge, expressed his top tip is to, “show everyone your passion and take everyone on your path to show your vision.”

Our 2018 finalists and winner’s words illustrate the robust impact the Varsity Pitch Competition had on their start-up experience so don’t miss your chance!

Applications for this year’s Tata Varsity Pitch competition are now reopen for a second round of applications, so just send in a 60 second video pitch BUT applications close midday Friday 27th September2019!

Any questions? Just email events@nacue.com

Written by: Isha Nigam

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