The UK's twelve most entrepreneurial students revealed

  • Finalists of the 2019 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards announced
  • Top prize of £25,000 up for grabs at the national final in London this October
  • Two winning businesses will be provided with a fully funded Santander intern and bespoke mentoring from business experts
  • Santander Startup Programme supporting over 150 student businesses

The UK’s most entrepreneurial students are unveiled today, each of whom are in with a chance to receive up to £25,000 worth of seed funding. Amongst the finalists of the ninth annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards may be the nation’s next great business success story.

The awards are one of the UK’s largest entrepreneurial business pitching competitions for students and recent graduates in which the best and most forward-thinking entries can receive capital investments, mentoring and start-up support.

In addition to the pitching competition, this year sees the launch of the Santander Universities Startup Programme. The inaugural programme sits alongside the awards and supports all of the 151 businesses entered into this year’s competition. It will support the young entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, including access to a support network of mentors and experts as well as exclusive modules on a range of start-up themes such as marketing and management. It aims to ensure that all entrants benefit from the awards programme, not simply those who reach the final.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented: “Young entrepreneurs are the future backbone of our economy so it’s vital we encourage and support them to make their business dreams a reality. We’re thrilled to announce the 12 finalists and we look forward to judging this year’s most creative and innovative UK talent at the finals in October.

“We’re also very pleased to be launching the Startup Programme this year to assist all the young entrepreneurs who have entered the competition. Every year we see a huge array of talent and this new programme will ensure that all entrants will benefit and thrive from the competition, whether or not they have made it through to the final.”

Since the awards were launched in 2011, Santander Universities has awarded more than £420,000 in support for budding student entrepreneurs, and given universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the UK. Overall, Santander Universities has provided over £2m of funding each year to support entrepreneurship across its 86 UK university partners.

These entrepreneurs are not simply making a short-term impact within their university environment. Last year’s winners, WASE and Chip[s] Board(1), have already moved into commercial premises and taken on additional staff. In total, businesses supported by the awards since 2011 which have grown successfully have generated revenues in excess of £7million(2), demonstrating their ability to move from student businesses to fully fledged start-ups and on to profitable and sustainable businesses.

This year, the twelve teams to have been named as the finalists of the competition and hoping to follow a similar growth path are(3):

  • Cosi Care, Brunel University London
  • HIT Recognition, Heriot-Watt University
  • Laterne, University of Oxford
  • Manimekala, University of Westminster
  • Ma’s House, University of Portsmouth
  • Panakeia Technologies, Kings College London
  • RivalKit, University of Edinburgh
  • SEME, University of Glasgow
  • Skate It Yourself, University of Huddersfield
  • Spyras, Loughborough University
  • The BioFactory Ltd, University of Bath
  • The Handwriting Company, University of Bristol

The twelve businesses were selected from a shortlist of 60 semi-finalists, having pitched their business idea to a panel of experienced judges in one of the three regional heats.

The successful businesses have been invited to attend an accelerator week in August 2019, which will provide them with a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers. During that week, the finalists will take part in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping them understand how to get the most from their business. In 2018, finalists attended a three-day event at University College London’s accelerator BaseKX, where they heard from leading organisations including Santander, Microsoft, iProspect, Scandinavian Stories and UCL.

The shortlisted teams will be competing to be one of two winning entries to win prizes of up to £25,000 of seed funding. The two runners up will receive £15,000 of seed funding. All will also receive a fully funded Santander intern. There are also six businesses(4) progressing to the accelerator week and the national final that were voted by the audience during the semi-finals as their People’s Choice. These businesses will compete at the national final for £7,500 of seed funding and a fully funded Santander intern.

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Notes to Editors

  1. Last year’s winners were WASE, which provides decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace the circular economy and recover energy, nutrients and water, and Chip[s] Board, an eco-friendly alternative to chip board and MDF made from potato waste. Thomas Fudge, one of the founders of WASE and Rowan Minkley, founder and CEO of Chip[s] Board were awarded the top prizes of £25,000. 
  2. Data compiled by Santander Universities amongst the 63 finalists and winners of the Entrepreneurship Awards between 2011-2017 which have grown successfully shows these have had revenues in excess of £7,000,000.
  3. About the 2019 Finalists:

    • Ma’s House, University of Portsmouth
      Ma's House specialises in digital clothing labels for the blind and severely visually impaired. The prototype has a NFC chip that uses a mobile app to verbally communicate a garments colour, pattern, silhouette, recommended season and coordinating garments. 

    • Panakeia Technologies, Kings College London
      Panakeia makes cancer diagnosis simpler, faster and cheaper by reducing the need for multiple tests.

    • Cosi Care, Brunel University London
      Cosi Care is the first company to create technology to treat Eczema. The first hand-held product that cools and soothes itching in seconds, keeps bacteria filled nails from damaging the skin and finally a form of instant effective relief.

    • Manimekala, University of Westminster 
      Manimekala is exciting, contemporary fashion made responsibly, for the customer that values aesthetics and ethics.

    • The BioFactory Ltd, University of Bath
      The BioFactory is a social enterprising start-up based in Bath, that is dedicated to the management of sanitation in refugee camps in sub-Saharan Africa.

    • The Handwriting Company, University of Bristol
      The Handwriting Company utilises artificial intelligence, colour-physics mimicking algorithms and on-demand printing technology to create handwritten marketing which is indiscernible from human-written letters.

    • Lanterne, University of Oxford
      Lanterne (previously known as Conflict Scanner) is an online platform which enables NGOs, charities, businesses and individuals to make informed decisions about their safety in conflict zones. 

    • Spyras, Loughborough University
      Spyras uses paper-based sensors to collect real-time breathing data of hospital patients to provide instant detailed lung function analysis through a user-friendly mobile app.

    • SEME, University of Glasgow
      SEME is a budding social enterprise that brings together different services and innovative technology to support society’s most vulnerable groups. 

    • HIT Recognition, Heriot-Watt University
      HIT’s vision is to become the Global leader in the head impact recognition technology - becoming the leader across multiple sporting disciplines and providing an accessible product to all players and communities to indicate when they require medical assessment with regards to head impacts and G-force change.

    • Skate It Yourself, University of Huddersfield
      Skate It Yourself runs engaging courses for children aged 5-19 to learn how to skateboard safely.

    • RIVALKIT, University of Edinburgh
      RIVALKIT provides a fully bespoke solution for sports clubs, with regards custom clothing, with the ability to put the full range online to be bought at any time and no minimum orders or order windows.

  4. About the People’s Choice finalists:

    • Alexander Hay Design, Northumbria University
      Alexander Hay Design founded by Alexander Hay is a furniture design and make service offered from a bespoke level through to contract with retailers and manufacturers.

    • Bet on Me, University of Sheffield
      Start-up launched to pioneer a novel drone service to improve healthcare delivery for both rural and urban communities.

    • Curaty Ltd, University College London
      Curaty offers individuals and businesses displays of art, curated and produced by exceptional fine art graduates, providing quality temporary exhibitions for the workplace.

    • Gement, Queen Mary University, London
      Gement provide an innovative Geopolymer cement which reduces CO2 by 85% (on average) and is mechanically tougher, fire resistant, and acid resistant among other properties.

    • Inspire Tutoring Ltd, Aston University
      Inspire is a private tuition company with the aim of helping disadvantaged children by finding them encouraging and engaging opportunities.

    • Rent on Trend Ltd, Oxford Brookes University
      Rent on Trend is an online community that connects individuals to rent and lend designer fashion items from each other.

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