On Wednesday, at The British Library, headline sponsor Tata Ltd and attendees witnessed another outstanding Tata Varsity Pitch Competition Grand Final, powered by NACUE. Our seven finalists had already faced intense competition at this year’s semi-finals as they battled it out to win an increased grand prize, to celebrate 10 years of the competition.
The semi-finals were judged by companies within the Tata group including colleagues from Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Communications, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Global Beverages. As the 10th Tata Varsity Pitch Competition opened, we knew there was a battle ahead for the finalists, to see who would be crowned the winner.
Invited guests from all walks of industry, from tech companies to corporate banks, government departments to PR and design companies, as well as our headline sponsor Tata Ltd, all eagerly looked forward to an afternoon of new and creative ideas from these young entrepreneurs.
We were delighted to welcome an esteemed panel of judges;
- Tim Jones CBE — Executive Director of Tata Ltd and head judge
- Angelica Malin — Editor-in-Chief of About Time Magazine and Founder of the About Time Academy
- Kay N Kukoyi — Founder of Purposeful Products
All pitches were passionately presented, demonstrating a clear knowledge of their intended markets. Our esteemed panel of Judges asked posing questions, which provided candidates with the opportunity to further discuss both their business models and their products’ logistics.
Our first pitch was this year’s Online Peoples‘ Vote winner, Totawell who flew through to this year’s Grand Finals after obtaining over 7,000 votes in the online competition. Imon Pal, from The University of Sheffield, shared that, “Current mental health schemes in the workplace are usually to tick a box” and shared the team’s passion to change that.
Next up, representing the Genuine Innovation with Tata Global Beverages was Spyras, a multi-award-winning start-up that is developing novel technologies to better analyse breathing and provide game-changing analytics in respiratory health. Founder, George Winfield, from Loughborough University London closed his pitch with a power statement that, “during this three-minute pitch, 60 people will have died from Sepsis”.
Co-Founder Harvinder Power, took to the stage with Motics a revolutionising physiotherapy through their combination of hardware and software, combining gold-standard sensing technology with machine learning, aiding recovery times. The Digital and Technical with Jaguar Land Rover competitors demonstrated their commitment of accessibility “our product is for everyone, we want to help everybody who needs physiotherapy”.
This year’s ‘Idea category with Tata Communications’ founder Molly Steadman shared her mission to empower woman in to take their FirstStep towards getting justice. From Imperial College London, Molly shared “1 in 12 women will experience sexual assault at university, of which 1 in 4 will be when under the influence of alcohol.” and she is on a mission to reduce that.
Next up, saw PlasTech Innovation for the Tata Disruptive Business category shared their radical solution to plastic reduction as a replacement for sand in traditional concrete solutions. Co-Founder Natasha Boulding said “Our plastic alternative to sand will provide a lighter, stronger, and flame retardant concrete. If we used all our plastic waste in concrete, we would eradicate plastic waste completely”
The penultimate pitch for the afternoon welcomed The BioFactory this year’s Tata Social Impact contestant. Eoin Sharkey shared their solution for off-grid sanitation and energy solutions for high population density areas in sub-Saharan Africa. His design is the only one of its kind where the processing devices are a part of the facilites.
And last but by no means least, Cosi Care, proud finalist for this year’s Creative and Design with Tata Consultancy Services. Founder, Lauren Bell, shared her story of seeing the pain and discomfort her younger brother suffered with severe Eczema. Affecting 1 in 5 children and 15 million people in the UK along, Lauren spoken passionately that
“Children are quite literally itching to get their hands on my product.”
Whilst the judges deliberated and undertook the most challenging part of the day, our guests and finalists networked.
Intense deliberation and discussion was held by the judges, taking almost the full 30 minutes deliberation time.
Tim Jones proudly announced Cosi Care as this year’s Tata Varsity Pitch 2019 winner, saying that:
“We saw an array of talent that was both exciting and humbling and gave us a tough Tata Varsity Pitch to judge. There obviously has to be a winner, but everyone who pitched was a winner. We chose Cosi Care because of its huge market opportunity, its simplicity, and the clarity of how it is being brought to market”.”
Kay Kukoyi, Founder of Purposeful Products, and fellow judge added
“It was an absolute pleasure to be a grand final judge at this year’s competition. The standard was extremely high, and interestingly there was a strong trend towards Health Tech and sustainability this year. All the judges were thoroughly impressed with the worthy winner, founder Lauren Bell, and her eminently scalable business Cosi Care”.
When asked ‘What does winning mean for your business ?’, Cosi Care replied:
“Being a part of the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition was a really rewarding experience. The opportunity to pitch to a larger audience alongside other businesses with such strong social impact is amazing. Winning was overwhelming and the funding and support will massively help us grow!”
The 10th Tata Varsity Pitch Competition has come to a fantastic conclusion and we would like to thank everyone involved and wish all that participated a successful year ahead. We look forward to more outstanding entries next year in 2020.