Tata Varsity Pitch Competition #VP2020, what happened at the semi- finals?

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The virtual semi-finals of the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2020, powered by NACUE, took place on Thursday 15th October 2020, for six places in the Grand Final, a chance to win £15,000 equity free and a coveted national title. This year’s Tata Varsity Pitch Competition 2020 saw a record of 604 entries!

Thirty participant businesses were selected to pitch in six designated categories, each had just two minutes to pitch their business followed by a five minutes Q&A session with the category judges. The judging panel altered with each category to ensure the semi-finalists were being judged by relevant Tata group experts. At the end of the morning and afternoon sessions a virtual networking event was run by our semi-finals host NatWest’s London Accelerator Hub.

The first to pitch was the highly competitive Genuine Innovation category with Tata Consumer Products which set the high standard for the day to come.

Railwatt are an engineering start-up on the frontier of redefining mobile wind energy. They design and sell smart portable next generation locomotive(train) mounted wind-turbines

Nexacath is developing next-generation catheters with improved performance at a lower cost to serve urinary-incontinent patients.

VacTrack Ltd’s mission is to improve population health through digital health innovation. They aim to improve vaccination access, improve vaccination adherence and advance data driven research.

Talonmore Drinks Company was established this year to create non-alcoholic beverages using rooted ingredients to replicate the spirit strength drinks experience. Talonmore is to be enjoyed just like any alcoholic spirit; on the rocks, with a mixer or in a non-alcoholic cocktail.

Enteromics’s platform comprises of an ingestible internet of medical thing (IoMT) pill and AI-powered application, that generates digital biomarkers for gut health that can now be collected in real-time to provide a wealth of medical insights for optimal performance.

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The category was judged by representatives from Tata Consumer Products: Sally Conway (HR Manager), Amy Holdsworth (Consumer Development Director), and Graeme Karavis (Managing Director UK&I). After a tough deliberation they named Nexacath as the winner, while highly commending Enteromics. Congratulations to Nexacath from King’s College London! When we asked how they felt about the day, Nexacath had this to say:

“We were obviously very nervous, and it is strange to pitch on zoom, but it was overall very exhilarating. We got a lot from today, with networking and watching other’s pitches, we’d highly encourage others to apply!”

The Creative & Design category with Tata Consultancy Services was no less striking as the pitchers continued to impress the audience and judges.

Are helping music lovers monetise their music knowledge & artists raise money from those who believe in them the most — their fans.

Mykor is an innovative biocomposite material developed to reconnect humans to their ecosystem.

Studio Hyte is a multidisciplinary design studio, formed of four practitioners and bring together expertise across a variety of design fields.

Post Carbon Lab is a social enterprise offering sustainable microbial dyeing and coating services for textile applications.

Linstastic have developed a strong, recyclable and customisable material made of lint from our dryers, which can be an alternative to plastic.

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The category was judged by representatives from Tata Consultancy Services: Rodger Oates (Consulting Partner BFSI), Anthony Kagoo (Innovation Evangelist — Communication, Media & Information Services, UK & EU), and Robert Grant (Consulting Lead, Experience Design). They chose Post Carbon Lab, London College of Fashion, as their winner, but also highly impressed by Mykor. When asked about their experience of the day, Post Carbon Lab replied:

“It was a nerve-racking experience, and I am surprised the judges seemed interested! Really excited to be moving on to the next stage of the competition”

The morning was rounded off by the Digital and Technical category with Jaguar Land Rover. The category was judged by Alexandra Bairstow (Recruitment Marketing Manager), Ajmer Garewal (Senior Technical Skills Leader), and Chantelle Powers (Early Careers Consultant).

Medified is a medication management and wellbeing app. Their app aims to transform the way people with long term health conditions understand and manage their health, starting with Type 2 Diabetes.

Luminiferous is using computational design techniques to develop a library of component designs for silicon photonics.

Tangi0’s vision is to lead a manufacturing paradigm shift, steering away from building smaller, denser and more expensive sensors to tailoring a functional material to its most ergonomic shape.

Legalme aims to give power back to the tenant. Starting by creating an online platform that helps student renters tackle tenancy disputes with landlords such as dangerous living conditions, lost or unsecured deposits and illegal fees.

ACBiode is developing the world’s first standalone AC battery by using the new “Biode” they created. Compared to current DC Li-ion batteries, AC Biodes are safer, more efficient, and have a longer life.

The winner of the category are AC Biode from University of Cambridge! However, it was very tight and so Tangi0 were highly commended. After the announcement, AC Biode shared that the day had been:

“[…]a great experience, and were amazed with the quality and innovation of the other start-ups participating”.

The afternoon opened with the Ideas category with Tata Communications.

The Bread Brew’d Project is a social enterprise aimed at tackling child food poverty. They upcycle surplus bread to brew beer and donate our profits towards school breakfast clubs in and around Nottingham.

Unitic’s first product, Hyperse is a smart device for cars, consisting of rear-proximity-sensors, rear-window display and a central control-panel accessible via a mobile-app which addresses the tailgating problem.

COVID-19 caused major disruptions in Food supply chains. SEAMLESS will be a data-driven platform to monitor every step in the food supply chain, and predict shortages with geographical precision, to enable governments and companies to act in a timely manner to remedy the situation.

Our business idea is to build an AI-driven Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) research system. More specifically, we are trying to solve the problem of existing ESG ratings being inadequate for investors to make investment decisions.

Seaweed Culture have a mission to revolutionise the agricultural industry and make it more sustainable for the future. They aim to create a vertical onshore aquaculture system to grow a specific species of seaweed on a commercial scale.

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The category was judged by representatives from Tata Communications: Rashi Bedia (General Manager — Corporate Strategy), Emma Not (HR Director — Europe), and Amit Sharma (Marketing Head — Europe & Americas). After considered deliberation, they chose The Bread Brew’d Project, University of Nottingham, as their winner!

“It’s been really exciting to get to pitch to likeminded entrepreneurs and a professional expert panel of judges. It’s definitely exciting to progress and we can’t wait to see where this journey goes!” — The Bread Brew’d Project.

The penultimate category of the competition was Tata Social Impact, with the wide range of start-up businesses delivering different social impacts the competition was anyone’s game.

Deploy Tech is the first-ever air-deployed, ready-to-use water tank, manufactured with a concrete-filled fabric aimed to help rural communities in developing countries easier access to water storage.

Cos Colours provide an innovative solution to minimise the amount of colour cosmetic waste heading to landfills and incinerators by transforming them into shimmery watercolour paints.

Konglomerate Games is a video games company specialising in healthcare and other serious games for children with cystic fibrosis.

LabCycle is a first of its kind waste management start-up aiming to recycle lab plastic waste. We provide a cheap and simple on-site service to research institutes for waste collection and de-contamination, then sell the cleaned plastics to recycling companies.

Powered by AI, Third Eye Intelligence gives ICU doctors the most valuable commodity — time. We have created an early warning system for organ failure. Giving doctors a longer time window to react and intervene.

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The category was judged by Amanda Carter, Head of Finance at Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc, Kamal Desai, Purchase Manager at Tata Limitedand, and Girish Wagle, Vice President-Head of Product Engineering Services, Europe. After thorough deliberation announced Konglomerate Games, Abertay University, as their winner, LabCycle were highly commended for this category.

“#VP2020 has been a really good competition, the social voting side of it got quite competitive and it added a fun new dimension to other pitching competitions” — Konglomerate Games

Finally, the competition was rounded off with the Tata Disruptive Business category

Universal Simulation are a flight simulator for dentists and doctors of the future to ensure they are prepared for patient treatment. Using haptic and VR technology to recreate the real sensations of drilling on and treating real patients… virtually.

Route Konnect sensors and analytics tools offer intelligent, real-time insights into the way people and objects are moving, making our cities smarter and saving time, resources and our planet.

The Tyre Collective mitigates tyre wear emissions by capturing them to ensure clean air, safeguarding our environment and health. In our fight against pollution, tyres have largely been ignored. Now, together, we can save our air from tyre wear!

JSF Healthcare have created NovaBleep, is a mobile/desktop application designed to address inefficiencies in the NHS communication system. These improvements will culminate in reduced strain and reduced costs on the NHS as a whole, a need that has been reinforced amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.

ImmTune Therapies are creating an injectable gene delivery agent that will transform T-cells into therapeutic cancer-fighting CAR-T cells inside the body. At ImmTune, our ambition is to unleash the potential of amazing advanced immunotherapies for patients worldwide.

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The category was again judged by Amanda Carter, Kamal Desai and Girish Wagle, whom chose Universal Simulation, Open University, as the category winner with 2 start-ups being highly commended: The Tyre Collective, and JSF Healthcare!

“Today was an amazing experience, it was incredible to pitch infront of such renowned high level judges” — Universal Simulation

Well done to all the semi-finalists and huge congratulations to the finalists, it was a very competitive event and everyone should be rightly proud of their achievements. Please do join us at our Grand Final taking place on Friday 20th November 2020 and see for yourself the talent of these young entrepreneurs! Admittance is free, simply follow the link to register here.

With grateful thanks to our category sponsors Tata, Tata Communications, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Consumer Products and Jaguar Land Rover, and our host NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator.

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Written by Abigail Howard for NACUE

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