Ones to watch - chip[s] board and wase announced as top entrepreneurial talent

  • Winners of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards unveiled
  • Chip[s] Board from Kingston University, London and Wase from Brunel University, London win top prizes of £25,000 funding

The potential business success stories of tomorrow have been unveiled at the eighth annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2018, one of the UK’s largest entrepreneurial business pitching competitions for students and recent graduates.

The two winners which will receive £25,000 worth of seed funding towards their forward-thinking businesses are:

  • Chip[s] Board, an innovative, eco-friendly and incredibly versatile alternative to chip board, made from potato waste, which aims to find value for everyday items where others see waste, from Kingston University, London; and
  • Wase, which turns wastewater into energy for households and local communities using cutting edge technology, from Brunel University, London.

The winners were announced by Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, and received their awards from Ana Botín, Group Executive Chair, Santander Group, at the event held at the University of Westminster.

During the event, which hosted students and colleagues from across the country, Nathan Bostock, Santander UK’s CEO, stressed the importance of supporting higher education as well as entrepreneurial talent and said: “We’re proud of our commitment to the higher education sector and supporting entrepreneurial students with innovative business ideas that have the power to disrupt sectors. We were truly impressed by the commitment, talent and inspiring ideas presented and are delighted to announce the winners of the 2018 awards. We wish them all the best for their future success.”

Rowan Minkley, Co-Founder and CEO of Chip[s] Boards, said: “We are ecstatic to have won the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. The support we have had throughout the competition has been incredible and we’re delighted this isn’t the end of our time with them. With this incredible prize along with all the support, we’re confident Chip[s] Board is on track to revolutionise the materials industry. ”

Thomas Fudge, CEO and Founder of Wase, said: “It’s truly fantastic to win the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. The support we have gained throughout has been amazing and we cannot wait to see how this win will enable WASE to grow over the next year as we start to pilot internationally to provide sanitation and energy to those who need it the most.”

Research conducted by Santander Universities(2) to support the launch of the Entrepreneurship Awards revealed that over 450,000 (26 per cent) (1)students currently run or plan to run a business whilst they are at university. Amongst those up and coming student entrepreneurs who have already launched a business, the average turnover is £11,408 per annum, equivalent to a collective £1 billion(3).

From over 149 entries from universities across the UK, 12 student businesses were shortlisted in two categories: technology and non-technology. These finalists were whittled down to the two winners following a tough selection process, including each student having to pitch their business to a panel of business experts. These judges included: Warwick Hill, CEO of Microsoft Accelerator; Dianne Dain, United Nations Technology Innovation Lab; Adam Ball from Talent Cupboard; as well as last year’s award winners, Jenny Evans, founder of Jenny Kate Designs and Irene Breen, founder of BellaMoon.

The runners up in each category: Fodilicious, an innovative food business providing the UK’s first low FODMAP, gluten free and diary free, freshly prepared meal options for digestive health and wellbeing, from Queen Margaret University; and POCKIT diagnostics, a pioneering device aimed at improving the speed of diagnosis of brain stroke and increasing patient survival rates, from the University of Cambridge, will receive £15,000 of seed funding to go towards further development of their business ideas.

In addition to the two winners and two runners up, BrightSign Glove, an innovative smart glove, which uses sensors to translate hand gestures, enabling individuals who use sign language to communicate without the need for an accompanying translator, from Goldsmiths, University of London, was voted by the audience at the awards event as having the greatest social, community, and environmental impact and won a prize of £7,500.

The businesses shortlisted for the final took part in an accelerator week in August, which provided them with a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers. During that week, the finalists took part in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping them understand how to get the most from their business.

Since the Entrepreneurship Awards were first launched, Santander Universities has funded more than £420,000 in support for budding student entrepreneurs as well as giving universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the UK.

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Notes to Editors

1) According to the latest HESA Data, there are 1,766,285 full time undergraduate students in the UK. The research shows 26% of students have already started a business, or are planning to do so – a figure of 459,234.

2) Research conducted by YouthSight, 1st – 11th January 2018 amongst a UK representative sample of 2,030 full time undergraduate students.

3) According to 2016/17 HESA Data, there are 1,766,285 full time undergraduate students in the UK. The research shows 6% of students have already started a business, with an average turnover of £11,408 per year. £11,408*(1,766,285*6%) = £1,208,985,616.

4) The 2018 awards are divided into the following categories: A winner and runner up for technology businesses; a winner and runner up for non-technology businesses; and a recently introduced prize for the entry that has the greatest social, community or environmental impact which will be voted for by the audience at the national final. Technology business: This is defined as a business or idea with hardware and/or software central to the businesses value proposition. Non-technology business: This is defined as a business or idea that has a value proposition that is not primarily based around hardware and/or software. There were over 149 entries to the awards from universities across the country. Each university was only allowed one entry per category.

5) About The Finalists

Non-Technology Winners

Chip[s] Board, Kingston University, London
Chip[s] Board is an eco-friendly alternative to chip board and MDF made from potato waste. Unlike its resin based counterparts, Chip[s] Board is biodegradable post-use and doesn't contain formaldehyde or any other toxic resins and chemicals. The goal is to bring the circular economy to modern materials.

Non-Technology Runner-up

Fodilicious, Queen Margaret University
Fodilicious is an innovative and sustainable food business providing the UK’s first low FODMAP diet, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) friendly, gluten free and diary free, freshly prepared meal options for digestive health and wellbeing.

Other Non-Technology finalists

Azure Foods, University of Oxford
Azure is the first company in Europe to sell Pinole. Pinole is a highly nutritious powder with a delicious roasted taste, traditionally made in Mexico from blue corn.

Citylife UK, University of Nottingham 
Citylife is the first provider to offer a full range of services to facilitate pre-arrival, arrival and the life of an international student coming to the UK by combining information services, social events, trips and adventures for international and Erasmus students.

Ezi-Sock, Ulster University 
The Ezi-Sock allows users with mobility challenges to put on their socks independently with ease.

Smibbs, Plymouth University
Smibbs Skincare is a natural skincare company with products to manage a variety of conditions including eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, very oily skin and cracked dry skin. 

Technology Winners

Wase, Brunel University, London
WASE develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace the circular economy to recover energy, nutrients and water that is in the wastewater.

Technology Runner-up

POCKIT Diagnostics, University of Cambridge 
POCKIT diagnostics is a UK- and Ireland-based startup company aimed at improving diagnosis of brain stroke.

Other Technology finalists

Machine Eye, Queens University Belfast 
Machine Eye have produced a non-intrusive retrofitable solution for tractors and machinery, to prevent injury and death caused by accidental contact with machinery.

Silver Lion Innovations, University of Strathclyde
Silver Lion Innovations Ltd is a Scottish start-up which designs medical devices to help people with mobility challenges turn over in bed, self-manage their condition and take back their independence.

Supernotes, Kings College London
Online collaborative learning platform serving higher-education students, who currently have a hard time creating and sharing their notes.

Work and Communications, Nottingham Trent University
A comprehensive, trusting and simple employee data management platform, a personal tracking app with many additional features to create transparency within the workplace and enable users to maintain data and manage their affairs with piece of mind.

Peoples Choice Winner

BrightSign, Goldsmiths, University of London
BrightSign Glove is a wearable technology in the form of a smart glove equipped with multiple sensors and machine learning software programmed to translate hand gestures to text and speech. It is designed to enable individuals who use sign language as their primary language to communicate directly without the need of an accompanying translator.

6) The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards are supported by Talent Cupboard, Microsoft, IProspect, Scandinavia Stories, University of Leicester, University of Strathclyde, University of Liverpool and University College London.

  • Talent Cupboard helps small businesses to grow through high quality, affordable digital marketing - all powered by the digital native generation. At Microsoft their mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
  • iProspect is the UK’s leading performance marketing agency. It creates and delivers innovative marketing programs for some of the world’s most successful brands helping them to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Scandinavia Stories teach students and professionals how to creatively address and overcome business growth challenges. They have particularly strong experience delivering entrepreneurship programmes.

About Us

Santander Universities
Santander, through Santander Universities, tops the list of Fortune 500 in investment in education (Source: Varkey Report/UNESCO). The Bank has established partnerships with over 1,200 universities in 20 countries, of which over 80 are in the UK. Through these agreements Santander promotes entrepreneurship, employability and internationalisation. For further information please visit:

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 30 June 2018, the bank has c24,200 employees. It serves around 15 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 64 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

About Us 
Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful market share in 10 core countries in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. At the end of 2017, Banco Santander had EUR 986 billion in customer funds (deposits and mutual funds), 133 million customers, 13,700 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made attributable profit of EUR 6,619 million in 2017, an increase of 7% compared to the previous year.

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