Tata Varsity Pitch 2022: One Year On

8 min readJul 3, 2023

With applications for this year’s competition opening right around the corner, we can’t believe it’s almost been a year since our 2022 Finalists took the stage to pitch at the Tata Varsity Pitch Grand Final.

Having pitched-off against hundreds of applicants to represent their business category, each of the 7 Finalists proved why they deserved to win the 2022 Title and £15,000 prize. And while there was only one winner, each business has made impressive progress since the competition, demonstrating just how Tata Varsity Pitch Competition, powered by NACUE, builds an enriching foundation that allows early-stage student and graduate start-ups to flourish.

One year on, we caught up with last year’s winner and finalists to see all they’ve achieved since and how TVP helped them get there.

Health & Wellbeing Category

Drill Surgeries, Founder Moises Barbera Ramos

Having previously been a Finalist in 2021, Moises re-applied to Tata Varsity Pitch last year to take home the 2023 prize for Drill Surgeries. Since the competition, Drill Surgeries has gone from strength to strength, receiving numerous award nominations, like from the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and University of Liverpool Alumni Awards, in recognition of their work towards eliminating guesswork in surgeries through the development of AI powered medical devices.

Drill Surgeries, Tata Varsity Pitch 2022 Winner

We spoke to Moises, who gave us some insight into his Varsity Pitch experience:

One Year On, where are you currently with your startup?

“We joined Tata Varsity Pitch 2022 with a simple prototype. Since competing in the Grand Final, we have closed our first investment round at a valuation of £5 Million and have grown to be a team of 4+ employees. We have also finished the R&D process, transforming our initial prototype into a fully working, production-ready product in less than 12 months. This allowed us to start clinical trials, recording a 100% accuracy in surgical guidance, and we became the first startup to perform a human trauma surgery with AI and MR without the use of X-Rays. This has proven that our unique technology has the capability to reduce operating times, radiation and costs while improving patient outcomes during millions of operations worldwide. We are currently working with regulators to bring this technology into national and international hospitals.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

For me, competing in and winning the Grand Final was a goal I had spent two years working on and a journey that has provided me with great friends, connections and knowledge beyond any of my initial expectations. It is also a sign that I am on the right track, that I am working on something people want to see impacting the world and that I am making the difference I set myself to create from my dorm years ago. My first contact with the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was through NACUE’s yearly conference back in 2018, when I started networking with fellow entrepreneurs and learning from great minds, yet it was through conversations with different members of the organisation that I feel I got the best value. Their continued support followed me through my journey in valuable introductions, exposure, and even funding.

What advice would you give to future Tata Varsity Pitch Finalists?

“If you want to take full advantage of this opportunity, talk to everyone in this process. From the moment you are selected to compete in the semi-finals, you will be put in front of some of the best student/graduate entrepreneurs in the country and members from one of the best startup ecosystems. Take each and every step of this competition to build relationships, the people in that room will probably grow to become life-changing companies or even unicorns and you will too, so it never hurts to have someone with your same ambitions as you to call and brainstorm ideas.”

Online People’s Choice

Ethosa, Founder Gaëlle Chatelard

Reinventing the shower category with waterless products in powder format, Ethosa continues to revolutionise the way people produce and consume beauty & personal care products.

Ethosa, Winner of the VP2022 People’s Choice Award

Since winning the People’s Choice award at Tata #VP2023, Ethosa has:

  • Announced their first official charity partnership with MS-UK. Ethosa is joining MS-UK in their mission to empower all people with MS to live healthier and happier lives. They’ve designed an exclusive started kit for their refillable body wash which features the MS-UK logo on their forever bottle. For each MS-UK x Ethosa kit sold, £5 are donated to the charity.
  • Featured in Mintel’s annual Global Outlook on Sustainability report
  • Selected as one of the UK start-ups to take part in the 2023 NatWest Business Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Been accepted to participate in Better Futures, the Mayor of London’s flagship project for early-stage cleantech companies.

Social Impact

Himayat, Founders Anushka Desai, Arya Diwase and Riya Patil

Himayat is creating a digital benefits and human resource management platform to support female domestic workers and their employers in India. We spoke to Anushka, who shared the following about their progress since the competition.

One Year On, where are you currently with your startup?

“A year on from being finalists in Tata Varsity Pitch, Himayat has grown significantly. We have expanded our team to cover multiple competencies, and that team is currently working on the ground to build our MVP. After running several assumption tests and a non-digital pilot, we are ready to launch! Team Himayat also had a triple victory at the Fuqua Fast Pitch competition at Duke University. We took home the Fuqua Fast Pitch Grand Prize, the Dean Yep, Jr. Prize, AND the Audience Choice Prize for a grand total of $15,000.

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“Tata Varsity Pitch was one of the first funding competitions we entered. Our pitch during the audience voting round was significantly different from our final pitch. We found the workshops and the expert ideation sprints facilitated by NACUE extremely pivotal in how we presented and positioned our product.”

What advice would you give to future Tata Varsity Pitch Finalists?

“Our advice to future finalists would be to not be afraid to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes it is that one additional customer interview that will unlock what your venture has been needing all along.”

Early Stage

Fibe, Founders David Prior Hope, Idan Gal-Shohet, Hazel Gonda and Premal Gadhia

Representing the early stage category, Fibe presented how they produce textiles from fibres from potato harvest waste, cutting environmental impact without compromising garment quality or cost. Since then, the business has continued to grow:

  • Won the Imperial Enterprise Lab Venture Catalyst Challenge moonshot prize
  • Pitched at the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award and Young Entrepreneurs Finals
  • Spoke on a Sustainable Ventures panel on Climate Positivity
  • Became runner-up in the Climate LaunchPad Programme
  • Won the Grand Prize of the Techstyle for Social Good 2022 competition
  • And they are currently moving into Makerversity as their new home where they can to continue to build

Genuine Innovation

BoxxDocks, Founders James Della Valle, Alessandro Attanzio, and Amarjit Pall

BoxxDocks is continuing to make strides in the transport sector through their smart design of sustainable, collapsible logistics boxes.

BoxxDocks, VP2022 WIRED Award winner

Founder James gave us insight into their journey since the competition:

One Year On, where are you currently with your startup?

“We are currently raising a pre-seed extension round of £500k, in which we have already secured our lead investor The British Design Fund. We also won the Santander Startup of the Year Award (£5k prize) as part of UCL. The BoxxDocks launch is planned for Q4 2023, and we plan to complete all marketing and outreach before then. The work in the leadup to this has included developing our own proprietary BLE and GPS trackers, specifically designed for logistics companies, our software mobile application and track & trace platform development commenced, and our outreach and sales strategy renewed reaching +£5Bn customers.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“Very good! We have kept in touch with some of the mentors and judges throughout the past year, which has led to client meetings and potential customers.”

What advice would you give to future Tata Varsity Pitch Finalists?

“Make the most of every person as part of the programme and keep in touch to see if they have any potential connections that could help you grow your business or sign post you in the right direction.”

Digital & Technical

Route Konnect, Founder Daniel Horborne

Route Konnect has also grown, continuing to build out their anonymised vehicle and people movement insight technology. They are the first computer vision company to develop an anonymised alternative to facial recognition. Since representing the Digital & Technical category at Tata #VP2023, Route Konnect achieved multiple milestones, including:

  • Raised £780k in pre-seed funding and won Innovative Startup of the Year
  • Pitched at Plug and Play Tech Center Silicon Valley November Summit
  • Exhibited at Move2023
  • Featured in Highways News, where you can read more about their innovations in multi-camera video analytics, and how they provide movement analytics without the need for facial or number plate recognition.
  • Included in the BusinessCloud #TransportTech50, an annual ranking of 50 of the UK’s most innovative transport technology creators.

Creative & Design

REALITY, Founders Shafae Ali and Alfie Mcmeeking

Last but not least we caught up with Shafae from REALITY, who create 3D printed mono-material footwear automatically generated from a 3D foot scan to provide optimal fit and reduce CO2 emissions.

One Year On, where are you currently with your startup?

“Following the competition, my co-founder and I took a break from the project development to focus on researching new markets and users for our technology. We’re excited to be testing with our new audience towards the end of the year.”

How would you describe your experience of the Tata Varsity Pitch competition and NACUE’s support?

“The Tata Varsity pitch was a great means of developing our pitch deck, pitching skills, and receiving feedback from judges, I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking to develop their early business. The mentoring was a particular highlight as the feedback was highly curated and David really cared to get our pitch to the highest level possible.”

What advice would you give to future Tata Varsity Pitch Finalists?

“My advice to future Tata Varsity Pitch Finalists would be to listen to your customers and really understand the problem you’re trying to solve for them, as they ultimately drive your business and are your biggest supporters. Investment is great for growth, but not always necessary, customers always come first.”

Tata Varsity Pitch Competition, powered by NACUE, gives students and recent graduates a platform to showcase their disruptive business ideas tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges. If you are an entrepreneur building impactful ventures, growing teams, and launching innovative products, we would love to hear from you.

Register your interest in this year’s competition here, then you’ll be first to know when applications go live.

You can find more information on the NACUE website here, and if you have any questions about the competition, you can also sign-up to one of our Q&A sessions.