On Friday November 20th, headline sponsor Tata Ltd, partners and attendees witnessed another outstanding virtual Tata Varsity Pitch Competition Grand Final, powered by NACUE. The online event was held in partnership with Digital Catapult. Our seven finalists had already faced intense competition at this year’s semi-finals as they battled it out to win the grand prize of £15,000 equity free funding.
The semi-finals were judged by companies within the Tata group including colleagues from Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Communications, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Consumer Products. As this year’s 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
- Paola Cuneo — Head of Advisors and Investors at ELITE
- Geraldina Iraheta- Director of Business Development at Digital Catapult.
The quality of pitches by Tata #VP2020 finalists were exceptional, all competitors demonstrated a clear passion and knowledge of their intended markets. The esteemed panel of Judges asked challenging questions, which provided candidates with the opportunity to further discuss both their business models and their products’ logistics.
#VP2020’s first pitcher was this year’s Online Peoples’ Vote winner, Project Stealth Tech who flew through to this year’s Grand Final after obtaining an impressive 19,146 votes in the online competition. As students from Imperial College and Royal College of Art, Project Stealth Tech are using patent-pending technology to develop a mouth wearable that helps athletes track their physiological status. The founders shared: “The Tata Varsity Pitch competition has a special place for us because it unlocked our potential. It made us discover the mental strength within our team, showed us to believe in ourselves and push it to the very end with a ‘never give up’ motto in our minds.”
Next up, representing the Tata Disruptive Business was Open University’s alumni Universal Simulation UK, with their flight simulator for dentists and doctors of the future, to ensure the future medical professionals are prepared for patient treatment, through using haptic and VR technology to recreate the real sensations of drilling on and treating ‘real patients’, virtually.
ACBiode pitched next representing the Digital and Technical category with Jaguar Land Rover category. AC Biode, from the University of Cambridge, are developing the world’s first standalone AC battery by using the new “Biode” they created. Compared to current DC Li-ion batteries, AC Biode’s are safer, more efficient and have a longer life.
This year’s Ideas category with Tata Communications showcased The Bread Brew’d Project a social enterprise, aimed at tackling child food poverty. They upcycle surplus bread to brew beer and donate their profits towards school breakfast clubs in and around Nottingham, after founders studied at the University of Nottingham.
Next up, saw Nexacath for the Genuine Innovation category with Tata Consumer Products shared their radical solution to catheter pain. Nexacath, representing King’s College London have developed a next-generation catheter, with improved performance at a lower cost to serve urinary-incontinent patients.
The penultimate pitch for the afternoon welcomed Post Carbon Lab this year’s Creative & Design with Tata Consultancy Services Category from the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts. Offering sustainable microbial dyeing and coating services for textile applications, Post Carbon Lab are a social enterprise committed to making the planet greener.
And last but by no means least, the Tata Social Impact category finalist Konglomerate Games from Abertay University, a video games company specialising in healthcare and other serious games for children with cystic fibrosis.
Whilst the judges deliberated and undertook the most challenging part of the day, our guests and finalists networked. Tata Varsity Pitch Winner #VP2019 Lauren Bell, Founder of Cosi Care and alumni of Brunel University, shared how her business has developed since winning the competition just a year ago.
Intense deliberation and discussion were held by the judges, taking almost the full 30 minutes deliberation time.
Tim Jones proudly announced Post Carbon Lab as this year’s Tata Varsity Pitch 2020 winner, saying that:
“This is really innovative, and you blew the judges away! The level of innovation is amazing. As the rag trade is so massive and you are trying to be sustainable, you should have a huge chance with licensing and the innovation and impact is excellent.”
When asked ‘What does winning mean for your business?’, Dian-Jen Lin replied:
“We cannot do this without the wonderful people that have helped us on the journey — NACUE and Tata. Thank you all for bearing with us and sharing your feedback & critics to give us the chance to grow.”
This year’s Tata Varsity Pitch Competition has come to a fantastic conclusion; 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 2021.