And that’s a wrap! On Wednesday, November 15th, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2023 came to an all exciting close at the Grand Final. Hosted by NACUE, we saw our 7 Finalists pitch-off for this year’s national title by presenting their innovative solutions and demonstrating their start-up’s potential. Headline sponsor Tata Ltd, Tata Group companies, partners, and members from the wider NACUE community were in attendance to see these talented young entrepreneurs take the stage.
Our Finalists had already faced tough competition at the Semi-Finals, where they were each selected to represent their category by judges from companies within the Tata Group including JLR, Tata Communications, Tata Consultancy Services, and Tata Consumer Products.
The competition only got more intense, as they battled it out to win the grand prize of £15,000 equity-free funding to accelerate their businesses. Hosted at Coin Street Conference Centre, the afternoon was full of excitement as everyone waited to find out who would be crowned this year’s Tata #VP2023 winner.
We were delighted to welcome an esteemed panel of judges:
● Tim Jones, CBE — Executive Director of Tata Ltd
● Morgan Meaker — Senior writer at WIRED
● Erika Brodnock, MBE — Founder of Kinhub
The quality of pitches this year was exceptional, with all Finalists demonstrating clear passion and understanding of their problem areas. The judging panel asked challenging questions, providing participants with the opportunity to further demonstrate their market knowledge and business models.
The first Finalist of the afternoon were Jyotsna Ravikumar and Kumar Loganathan, from The University of Glasgow, pitching Elbow Engineers as representative of this year’s Online Peoples’ Vote. Elbow Engineers had gathered the most online votes from the public, which fast-tracked them to the Grand Final. Their groundbreaking solution addresses the UK’s construction industry waste and pollution problems with eco-bricks, crafted from recycled plastic and demolition waste. The team had this to say about winning the Online Peoples’ Vote:
“Winning the Online People’s Vote at the Tata Varsity Pitch was an incredible validation of our team’s hard work and dedication. The privilege of partaking in this esteemed competition has been an enriching experience, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to represent Elbow Engineers on the global stage, standing alongside fellow finalists from around the world. Heartfelt appreciation to NACUE and their team for their unwavering support throughout our journey. Additionally, I extend my sincere appreciation to TATA and WIRED Impact for their exceptional follow-up support, granting us a platform to showcase our product at the WIRED Impact event in London. I’m excited to see what the future holds for our team, and I’m committed to making a positive impact on the world.”
Enturi Solutions’ pitch followed for the Digital & Technical Category with JLR, presenting how they are developing game-changing distributed renewable energy systems for coastal regions. Founders Alex Shakeshaft and Stuart Roberts from the University of Liverpool presented how Enturi aims to address energy diversity and security challenges, accelerate clean energy accessibility, and make significant contributions towards the UK’s Clean Maritime Plan decarbonisation targets.
Next up was this year’s Genuine Innovation Category with Tata Consumer Products showcasing Phare Labs who are creating a fire alarm that uses a patent-pending combination of chemical and spectral sensors together with AI to detect fires over 50s earlier, increase fire detection sensitivity by over 50%, and reduce false alarms by 98%. Founders Daniel McBride and Arnau Donate have studied at London Business School, Royal College of Art, and Imperial College London.
Mark Williams from Queen’s University Belfast was next, pitching Defensive Thinking for the Tata Early Stage Category. Pulse, by Defensive Thinking, is a disruptive state-of-the-art Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform tailored for military and crisis management operations. It offers real-time intelligence access in a secure and intuitive information environment for high-intensity situations
Next we saw Tap’N’Tour for the Creative & Design Category with Tata Consultancy Services. Born from the success of their prototype, Pandemic Tours, which amassed over 1K users, Tap’N’Tour bridges travellers with local tour guides, offering uniquely crafted experiences, revolutionising the way travellers experience destinations. Founder Joaquin Contreras Merino is from the University of Manchester.
The penultimate pitch of the afternoon welcomed The Even Project to the stage for the Tata Social Impact Category. Queen Mary University of London student Sarah Bailey and her co-founder Aurusha Kharas pitched their social enterprise that is designing and distributing empathetic, cost-effective, and sustainable humanitarian aid products. Their first product is a One-size-fits-all Period Underwear for low income and displaced menstruators.
And last but not least, Zak Marks and James Cohen from Loughborough University presented Kitt Medical for the Health & Wellbeing Category with Tata Communications. Kitt Medical is building the ‘defibrillator for allergies’, a multi-award winning Anaphylaxis Kitt service providing schools with a regulated supply of emergency adrenaline pens and unlimited access to CPD accredited online training course.
Tata Varsity Pitch 2022 — One Year On
While the judges deliberated, Moises Barbera Ramos, founder of Drill Surgeries, spoke to the audience and Finalists about his journey since winning the competition last year.
Tata Varsity Pitch 2023 Winner
After tough deliberation, the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2023 Winner was announced. The judges proudly announced The Even Project as this year’s winner. Congratulations!
When asked what winning meant for their business, founder Sarah Bailey replied:
“Our goal was to, no matter what your experience with Periods is, to quickly and convincingly, visualise how much waste and cost could be removed from the humanitarian system with Even’s Period Underwear. We’ve had trouble with this in the past, by leaning too much on people’s existing understanding of periods. Naturally, that would isolate more than half of the room. Winning the Tata Varsity Pitch 2023 is more than a wonderful opportunity and title, to us it means we are doing a much better job at communicating our mission as well as bringing 100% of the room with us.”
Kitt Medical was also announced as the runner-up in the competition.
This is what founder Zak Marks had to say about their competition experience:
“It was wonderful to be part of the Tata Varsity pitch experience — we got to meet some amazing co-finalists, learn from experienced mentors, and ultimately refine our business pitch to ensure our communication and concept was top tier! Excited to work more with the vast Tata network to provide growth for our Anaphylaxis Kitt service.”
What a fantastic conclusion to this year’s Tata Varsity Pitch Competition. We would like to thank everyone involved and wish all our entrepreneurs all the best with their ventures. We look forward to what 2024 has in store!
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