Top Emerging Entrepreneurs – Konglomerate Games and Torann win UK-wide university business pitching competition

• Winners of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2020 unveiled.
• Konglomerate Games from Abertay University and Torann from Queen’s University Belfast win top prizes of £30,000 funding.
• Over 480,000 students currently run, or plan to run a business whilst at university.

Two top emerging entrepreneurs, and potential business success stories of tomorrow, have been unveiled at the tenth annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2020, a prestigious UK-wide entrepreneurial business pitching competition for students and recent graduates.

The two talented winners which will receive £30,000 worth of seed funding towards their forward-thinking businesses and a fully funded intern are:

• Konglomerate Games, a video games company which specialises in developing healthcare games to improve lives, from Abertay University; and
• Torann, which has developed a unique device to provide 100% sound quality for musicians playing amplified instruments across the globe, from Queen’s University Belfast.

At the online event, which was attended by students and colleagues from across the UK, Nathan Bostock, Santander UK’s CEO, stressed the importance of championing start-ups and said: “We’re committed to supporting higher education and nurturing entrepreneurship among students particularly given the current challenging environment for graduate career prospects. Now more than ever, it is important we support those who are laying the foundations for a business while studying and may be on their way to making it a full-time career. Congratulations to the winners and all those who presented their pioneering ideas this year – they were truly inspirational.”

Jamie Bankhead, Founder of Konglomerate Games said: “We are so pleased to have won the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. It was such a fantastic competition and the prize will enable us to focus on developing our game designed for children with cystic fibrosis. The Emerging Entrepreneurs programme has enabled us to build our network with such fantastic people which will really help us in the long run.”

Lewis Loane, Founder of Torann said: “The support from the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme has allowed us to sharpen our business model and strengthen our commercialisation plan. Winning the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is absolutely incredible and will provide us with the critical resources to accelerate our business and capture the global opportunity.”

Eight student businesses were shortlisted from over 80 entries from universities across the UK.  These finalists were whittled down to the two winners following a challenging selection process. This included each of the eight finalists having to pitch their business online to a panel of business experts. Alongside Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK and Susan Allen, CEO Retail and Business Banking at Santander UK, judges also included: Theo Paphitis, entrepreneur and TV Dragon; Prue Leith, Chancellor, Queen Margaret University; Warwick Hill, business executive and entrepreneur; and Julie Devonshire OBE, Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute, King’s College London. The event was hosted by Seema Jaswal, professional sports host and journalist.

Theo Paphitis said: "The quality of idea, development and execution of these businesses is excellent and shows how entrepreneurial students can be. That these ideas have been nurtured alongside their studies is inspirational and shows me that UK start ups are in great shape. That so many students are now starting businesses as they study shows the value of earning whilst learning."

In addition to the two overall winners, eight businesses were announced as the Judges Choice Winners(2) from the semi-finals round and won a prize of £1,000 of seed funding from Santander.  This year the programme also included a Crowdfunding challenge, where the businesses worked with the team at Crowdfunder to create a campaign for their business. Student Travel Tips(3) was announced as the winner of the challenge and received a cash prize of £6,000 from Santander at the final.

The Awards follows the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme for 2020, which took place across the summer months, in celebration of 10 years of supporting entrepreneurship. The new virtual programme which brought together budding entrepreneurs from across the UK, included dedicated support for all 83 student and graduate start-ups of the bank’s partner universities.

The programme involved fortnightly webinars of online support sessions aimed at helping the emerging entrepreneurs understand how to get the most from their business and included a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers including Lesley Stonier, Founder, We Mean Business and Jeremy Snape, former international cricketer and Founder and Managing Director of Sporting Edge.

Alongside panel discussions and workshops, coaching and peer-to-peer learning, the programme also focused on responding to key challenges and goals for start-ups during the current coronavirus crisis. Sessions included topics such as: funding and finance; building a sustainable business; growing your brand on a budget; building your business during a recession; and pitching to investors.

Research conducted by Santander Universities to support the new Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs 2020 programme revealed that over 480,000 (27 per cent)(4) students currently run or plan to run a business whilst they are at university. The study(5)   – which polled 1,000 undergraduates from across the UK – found that almost one in ten (9%) entrepreneurs are already running a business alongside their studies, an increase from just 6% recorded in 2018(6) , with an additional 18% of students saying they have plans to start their own business venture in the near future.

The study also found that when asked about the future of their businesses post-university, almost a fifth – 17% – expect to continue with it as a full-time career once they leave university. Almost half – 48% – said they plan to continue the business as a second job or hobby post-graduation.

Since the Entrepreneurship Awards were first launched in 2011, Santander Universities has awarded more than £500,000 in support of student start-ups across the UK and given universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the country. Overall, Santander Universities has provided over £2.5m of funding each year to support entrepreneurship at its 85 UK university partners.

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Notes to Editors

1) About the 2020 Finalists:

• Brarista, University College London
Brarista uses AI technology to help women find bras that fit and simplifies bra-fitting and bra-shopping in three simple steps resulting in highly accurate and personalised sizing and style recommendations.

• Connex Solar, University of Strathclyde
Connex Solar are developing plug and play microgrid technology to transform off-grid electrification in the developing world. The Energy Box, a smart controller, connects households to form community microgrids. Field trials are currently being conducted in Rwanda.

• Experience Heritage, University of York
Experience Heritage delivers immersive and interactive heritage displays, digital models, web and mobile apps and modified images for heritage groups, museums and private owners using the latest digital technologies.

• ExpHand Prosthetics, Loughborough University
ExpHand Prosthetics make life changing 3D printed prosthetics for children that fit them as they grow. The prosthetics are designed with children in mind as they are affordable, lightweight, modular and can be customised in different colours to suit a child’s personality.

• Konglomerate Games, Abertay University
Konglomerate Games is a video games company which specialises in developing healthcare games to improve lives. Their game, Archipelayo, is designed to be used as physiotherapy for children with Cystic Fibrosis. The game also measures patients’ adherence to treatment through analytics and has been designed to encourage the correct techniques to combat the disease’s progression.

• SmashMedicine, University of Oxford
SmashMedicine improves people’s lives by making education seriously fun. Through years of research, the team have developed an evidence-based EdTech platform where students, faculties and professionals collaborate to produce high-quality content in the form of multiple-choice questions. They also combine both gamification and artificial intelligence to enhance engagement, making the learning experience more efficient.

• Suji BFR, Heriot-Watt University
SujiBFR will globalise the use of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training, an accepted method of improving athletic performance amongst researchers and professionals in sport. BFR training creates high stimulus training without the impact of intense exercise. The Suji-System™ streamlines the process of BFR training and has been developed by collaborating with professionals in sport.

• Torann, Queen’s University Belfast
Signal Optimiser, developed by TORANN (the Irish word for ‘noise’) is the unique and award-winning solution to the historic problem of loss of sound quality encountered by millions of musicians playing amplified instruments across the globe. Signal Optimiser is a fully compatible plug and play device, positioned between the instrument and amplifier which continuously provides 100% sound quality.

2) The Judges Choice Winners:
• Atypical Cosmetics, University of Glasgow
• Charco Neurotech, University of Cambridge
• Henry’s Cushion, Bangor University
• Kutenda, University of Southampton
• Learn with ESS, University of Salford, Manchester
• Pretty Mama Ltd, Northumbria University
• Skyfarer, Coventry University
• Unlimited You, Aston University

3) Crowdfunding Challenge Winner

• Student Travel Tips, University of Bristol

4) According to the latest HESA Data, there are 1.8million undergraduate students in the UK. The research shows 27% of students have already started a business or are planning to do so – a figure of 486,000.
5) Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll between 5th and 10th August 2020. The base size was 1,000 UK undergraduate students and was weighted to be nationally representative.
6) Research conducted by YouthSight, 1st – 11th January 2018 amongst a UK representative sample of 2,030 full time undergraduate students.

Santander Universities
Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth, with a long-standing dedication to higher education that sets it apart from the world's other financial institutions. With over EUR 1,800 million invested in academic initiatives since 2002 through Santander Universities and over 430,000 university scholarships and grants awarded since 2005, it has been recognized as the company that invests most in education in the world (Varkey/Fortune 500 Report), with 1,000 agreements in place with universities and institutions in 22 countries, of which over 80 are in the UK. Through these agreements Santander promotes education, entrepreneurship and employability. For further information please visit:

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