London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2013: Survival of the Fittest

London’s best young entrepreneurs clinched victory yesterday in the prestigious 2013 London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge. Standing out among a strong field of innovators were five teams that represent the best of entrepreneurship across UCL, SOAS, the Royal Veterinary College, Birkbeck, the School of Pharmacy and the London Business School. Awarded £15,000 of prize money between them, the winners will receive their prizes at the annual UCL Awards for Enterprise on 29 May 2014.

Now in its twelfth year, the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge is a chance for enthusiastic young entrepreneurs to get some great experience under their belts. It consists of intensive workshops from October to December, culminating in pitching business ideas to a panel of UCL staff, former winners and external experts in mid-December.

The Challenge Winner, with an award of £5,000, is forward-thinking biotech company Darwin Toolbox. Their creation is ingenious – an affordable, safe and portable synthetic biology laboratory that makes synthetic biology technology accessible to innovators. Its aim is to increase the reach of synthetic biology to make it more available in educational settings and citizen science, in the same way that the maker community has contributed to the home computer revolution.

The Undergraduate Runner-Up, receiving an award of £3,000, is FooGuru, a mobile application that provides a social platform for football predictions. The app lets users share their predictions about football match results, and compete against their friends, colleagues or even on a national basis, to see who is the best predictor over time.

The Postgraduate Runner-up prize, also £3,000, goes to Archifi – a web platform and mobile app that allows architects and other building professionals to document specific elements and overall progress on-site through an effective, easy photo and archive organizing system. It helps them organize them into a coherent and logical archive, and share them with colleagues in a single step.

The Provost’s Prize of £2,000, which recognizes the best proposal from a team with members from multiple participating institutions, goes to Eat & Greet. A social enterprise that aims to tackle the problem of social isolation in care homes, Eat & Greet brings care home residents together with groups of visitors over a weekly lunch in the care home. Eat & Greet provides the visitors and the home provides an affordable lunch.

The Social Enterprise Award of £2,000 goes to artFix, a team that are putting high art in the high street. artFix are creating permanent artFix stores in everyday places around London, in select high-footfall locations, high streets and shopping centres to deliver, under one unified brand, artistic content that originates from major cultural organisations and community artists.

The London Entrepreneurs Challenge is run by UCL Advances, UCL's Centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction. UCL Advances helps anyone who wants to learn about, start or grow a business by offering training, services and funding for staff, students and external entrepreneurs. Taking students through their entrepreneurial journey, UCL Advances encourages and enables new enterprises to get going with confidence.

Winners in full:
Darwin Toolbox
Philipp Boeing: UCL MEng Computer Science 2014
Bethan Wolfenden: UCL BSc Biochemistry 2014
Oliver Coles: UCL PhD Instrumentation, MPhil Physics 2015
Tom Catling: UCL PhD Instrumentation, MPhil Astrophysics 2016
Desmond Schofield: UCL EngD Biochemical Engineering 2015

FooGuru
Danny Hakimian: UCL BA Economics & Business 2014

Archifi
Iulia Fratila: UCL March Urban Design 2013
Odysseas Diakakis: UCL March Urban Design 2013
Stefanie Sebald: UCL March Urban Design 2013
Youngjoon Chung: UCL Bartlett, London, Master of Architecture 2013 Katarzyna Bendowska: UCL Bartlett, London, Master of Architecture 2014
Andri Costin: West University of Timisoara, Romania, Bachelor of Computer Science for Economics, Graduated 2005

Eat & Greet
Sarah Anne Bedford: SOAS, Graduate Diploma in Economics
Lynn Kremer: UCL, MA Comparative Literature 2014

Artfix
George Neris: UCL MPhil, Centre for Sustainable Heritage 2017


Winners of London Entrepreneur’s challenge storm to victory

Seven companies run by undergraduate and postgraduate students across London and alumni from some of the capital’s most prestigious institutions have been announced as winners of the 2012 London Entrepreneur’s Challenge.

The Challenge – which is in its eleventh year – is open to students and alumni from UCL, SOAS, the Royal Veterinary College, Birkbeck and the London Business School, and was the brainchild of Director of UCL Advances Timothy Barnes. In three categories – undergraduates, postgraduates and alumni – a total of £26,000 worth of prizes were awarded - three first prizes of £5,000, three runner up prizes of £3,000, and one Provost’s prize of £2,000.

In the undergraduate category, surgical training company Disepra won the first prize, led by member of the Team GB rowing team Cameron Nichol. The company is a training organisation aiming to globally revolutionise the way laparoscopic appendectomies are taught.

Runner-up in the category was African market research company Index Africana, led by UCL Chemical engineering student Wisdom Uzor, which extracts information on consumer behaviours and demographics in Africa through the use of mobile technology.

In the post-graduate category, UCL Mathematics and Physics PhD candidate Hywel Carver – along with his business partner Sam Jewell – were the winners with their company Matopy, a software company which creates audio versions of websites, making it possible to listen to and navigate around large amounts of content online, with especial benefits for blind and visually impaired people.

Runner-up SellPlex solves the problems of sellers having to load their items multiple times on multiple platforms, by providing sellers with the ability to load on multiple platforms (eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace etc.) simultaneously and with minimal effort. The team included Ahmad Bakhiet, former President of the UCL Entrepreneurs Society.

In the alumni category, mobile app Apposite, submitted by company Blue Ronin, took first prize with its innovative solution to the problem of abortive work and wasted time on construction sites due to out of date and out of synch drawings. Team member Alex Siljanovski graduated from UCL’s MSc Technology Entrepreneurship this year.

It was another graduate of the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship programme, Tayab Hasan, who was runner up in the alumni category with RehenSehen, an online platform where home seekers can browse properties as and when they come on the market in Pakistan.

Finally, the Provost’s Prize was awarded to Photosynthesis, a lightweight, innovative photo printer that clips on to the back of a mobile phone and prints wirelessly. The accompanying mobile app enables users to customise and upload photos for real-time viewing. The team of four behind the company was led by Madison Salters of SOAS.

“The standard of the competition was so high that we awarded nearly double the usual value of prizes,” said Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances. “It was especially great to see so many students and alumni from UCL, especially those from our MSc Technology Entrepreneurship programme, winning prizes.”


London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge – Phase 1 winners

A record number of 41 teams from UCL, London Business School and SOAS entered Phase 1 of the 2012 London Entrepreneur's Challenge. Teams are halfway through a series of intensive workshops run by Tim Barnes, Director, UCL Advances, aimed to show participants the process of starting a business by helping them do it for themselves.

The teams pitched their ideas to 6 judges, comprised of an external CEO, three UCL staff and 2 former student competition winners. The standard of entries was mixed; some were very well presented and clearly explained, whilst some needed to do more research, particularly to check the market – is there really a problem that they are hoping to solve?

Overall Winner Matopy impressed the judges with their solution to help blind and visually impaired people to browse the web, and with their clearly articulated and confident presentation style. If you would like to get involved it’s not too late. There are further weekly workshops and you can enter Phase 2! You can enter the competition here

Overall Winner: Matopy www.matopy.com

Business Concept:

Matopy is a software company. We hope to change the world, by revolutionising the way we interact with the web. We create audio versions of websites, making it possible to listen to and navigate around large amounts of content online. We have an innovative and unique new technology - a fresh approach - which has the potential to disrupt the way we experience audio on the internet.

This has immediate applications for anyone who wants “eyes-free” access to any web content – from blind and visually impaired people, through people with lower literacy levels, to people who want to surf or check emails while away from their desks. It’s time to listen to the web.

Team members:

  • Hywel Carver, UCL PhD in Mathematics & Physics in Life Sciences. Also has an MA and MEng from Cambridge University
  • Sam Jewell, MA and MEng from Cambridge and MIT, and an MA and MSc in Innovation Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art.

Undergrad Runner up: DISEPRA

Business Concept:

Our Business is to produce, implement and market a training course using our own devised curriculum for surgical trainees to learn to perform laparoscopic appendicectomies using virtual reality (VR) simulation.

Team Members:

  • Cameron Nichol, MB BS BSc (hons), Medicine, Medical Sciences w/ Psychology; also Elite Athlete at GB Rowing Team
  • Dr Pasquale Berlingieri: Clinical Research Fellow in Screen-Based Simulation and Obstetrics & Gynaecology, UCL Medicine and Royal Free Hospital.
  • Danny Sinitsky: NHS surgical trainee

Postgrad runner up: SellPlex

Business Concept:

SellPlex is disrupting the eCommerce industry by providing sellers the ability to list on multiple platforms (eBay, Amazon, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, etc) simultaneously and with minimum effort. Sellers will no longer have to waste time uploading items to individual platforms manually. SellPlex automates the entire process and facilitates inventory and inbox management.

Team Members:
  • Ahmad Bakhiet, MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship; current President of the UCL Enterprise Society
  • Kishan Gupta, UCL Alumni

UCL students get on their bikes to win London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2011

Four teams of students won awards totaling £13,000 in this year’s London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, which is managed by UCL Advances.

The winners were:
Sycle - London Entrepreneurs' Challenge Champion (£5,000)
Ju$txt - Postgraduate/staff/alumni category (£3,000)
SmartSearch - Undergraduate category (£3,000)
Neighbourfood - Provost’s Prize (£2,000)

Sixteen teams made up the finals and all presented their ideas to a panel of judges made up of UCL staff, former winners and external experts/investors, on 13th December. It was the culmination of three months of intensive workshops and business plan preparations in a competition that aims to show participants the process of starting a business by helping them do it for themselves.

The programme, now in its tenth year, is open to all members of UCL, Royal Veterinary College, Birkbeck, the School of Pharmacy and London Business School.

Sycle has developed a green and stylish carbon-fibre, compact, folding electric bike that comes with the eSycle, a small portable device, and the appSycle, a mobile application for smartphones, both of which are designed to run, control and navigate the bike. The market for e-bikes doubles in size every two years in the EU, and early indications are that the start-up will break even and perhaps generate a profit within the first year of operation.

Project leader Marcin Piatkowski (MSc Technology Entrepreneurship) says: “We will use the prize money of £5,000 to manufacture our prototype and move the project to next level – the last one before pitching for £350,000 in order to help the company become fully functional.”

Tim Barnes, Director of UCL Advances and one of the judges, says: “Sycle ticked a number of boxes for us: it involves making a solid product; it is eco-friendly; and it represents a chance for a European manufacturing to sell into China – the biggest electric bike market. We were impressed with Marcin’s thorough customer research, even braving the rush hour at Euston Station.”
Find out more>>


E-Challenge Winner runners up in Latin MootCorp competition

TipGain (formerly BarGain) the winners of UCL’s e-Challenge 2010, gained third place in the prestigious Latin Moot Corp competition in Brazil judged by a panel of South America’s elite venture capitalists.

Competing against twelve teams from the UK, Canada, Colombia, Brazil and the USA Toledo Hung and Gustavo Gorenstein (current students from UCL’s MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship) presented their innovative social marketing concept for retailers.

Following an excellent performance in the semi-finals, TipGain was selected as one of the four teams to progress to the final stage of the competition. Against far more established competition TipGain emerged as the second runner- Gorensterin commented that ‘….the team was delighted to hold its ground against such fierce competition, we got great advice and contacts and we have high expectations for the future of TipGain’.


The London Entrepreneurs' Challenge 2010/11 Winners Revealed

Tuesday the 14th December marked the end of the competition’s second phase, where cash prizes totalling £13,000 awaited four lucky teams. Each team was required to submit a full business plan in addition to the presentations given on the day to the judges; which consisted of academic staff, business support experts and external serial entrepreneurs. These were scrutinised closely before announcing the winning team to the audience and competing teams.

In terms of student’s perceptions on the E-Challenge, overall students were very positive about the experience, and would highly recommend it to their future peers. This is reflected in one of this year’s participants, Grant from “One to One Medicine” – a website aimed at guiding students through the complex process of applying to UK medical schools – who was encouraged to enter The E-Challenge by last years grand winner, Chester Sinclare. Find out more>>


Winners of 2009/10 London Entrepreneurs' Challenge Innovation Central Bursary Become UCL Advances First Hatchling!

Alive and Giving.com are going to be one of the first companies to be based in the UCL Advances Student Business Hatchery. The purpose of the hatchery is to provide a base for new student led businesses when they first need it and to help prepare them for their upcoming life as full grown businesses in the outside world.

AliveandGiving.com is an innovative charity fundraising website designed to encourage and facilitate consider giving. The company was formed as a result of the London Entrepreneurs' Challenge, a business plan competition organised yearly by UCL Advances. AliveandGiving won the undergraduate and Provost's Prize categories in the 2009 London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge and were also recipients of a UCL Bright Ideas Award 2009. In 2010 they were awarded a London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2010 Innovation Central Bursary. Find out more>>


Winners of 2009/10 London Entrepreneurs' Challenge Innovation Central Bursary Launch Website

Two postgraduate students have launched a website to help British troops get the kit they need while on active service.

Members of the public wishing to make gifts to serving British troops will now be able to donate items specifically requested by soldiers, thanks to Kit4Troops, a unique website created by two UCL students.

Kit4Troops was created by Masters students Steve McGregor and Inaam Tahir, who met at UCL in 2009. In 2007, Steve was a Captain in the US 101st Airborne and deployed in Iraq, and it was this experience that led him to realise the need for a ‘wedding list’ style concept to get soldiers the items they most missed, or the additional kit they needed. Find out more>>


London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2009/10 Winners Named

After six months of planning and research, the winners of UCL’s London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge (www.londonentrepreneurschallenge.com) have been crowned on 15 December 2009. The recipients of the first prize, worth £5,000, are 8 Board – a company that has redesigned a mountain board so that it replicates the ‘carving’ movements of a snowboard. The runners-up, winning £3,000 each, were H2NRG, the leading post-graduate student or staff entry with a new energy concept, and the best under-graduate student entry, Gourmandie, a gourmet food business.
The competition was launched for the first time in October 2002 and has a total prize fund of over £15,000. It is a workshop programme and business plan competition that is open to all members of UCL and the London Business School.

Teams were judged on their concept, presentation, analysis and planning. Twelve were shortlisted and the concepts were wide ranging, from energy saving innovations to customisable menswear.
Tim Barnes, Executive Director at UCL Advances (www.ucl.ac.uk/advances) commented; “The standard of this year’s entries was very high and I have no doubt that some of the concepts will go on to make profitable businesses. The passion of the entrants was truly outstanding.”
The winner of the award for ‘Most Timely Concept’ was a charity initiative called Sword and Strength. This company enlists the help of members of the public to donate money in order to buy military equipment for soldiers serving in war zone such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge (E-Challenge)was delivered by UCL Advances, a UCL department specifically created to foster innovations and support entrepreneurial ventures that benefit to society and the economy.


E-Challenge Participants Go On To Further Success

The leading businesses in the E-Challenge each year have a strong track record in developing outside of the university environment.

Winners of the 2008 competition, Satalia (www.satalia.com) have attracted considerable interest from major US players for their silicon chip validation business and former UCL Computer Science PhD Students Dan Hulme and Alistair Moore have got used to spending a lot of hours on planes. The company is now supported by UCL’s technology transfer office, UCL Business (www.uclb.com).

The most recent business to launch after E-Challenge success is Alive and Giving (www.aliveandgiving.com). The company has had angel support and is developing a service to help charities take donations online more easily. The project is led by Chester Mojay-Sinclare, a Philosophy undergraduate student, who was recently profiled by the Wall Street Journal Europe as part of their future leaders programme (www.tinyurl.com/y94kref).

TripBod (www.Tripbod.com), an innovative travel website business initially developed by former UCL student Sally Broom as part of the E-Challenge in 2008, was named last year as the Number 1 new travel website by The Times (www.tinyurl.com/nl8887). The company recently raised seed-stage funding.

FatStudent (www.fatstudent.co.uk) may be the next success story to come out of the programme.  A location-based job service for students, the company was started by a group of UCL students from the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship Programme and were recently runners’-up in the TechCrunch pitching competition (www.tinyurl.com/yjog9pk).


E-Challenge 08/09 Runner Up in Wall Street Journal

Chester Mojay-Sinclair, runner-up in the E-Challenge 08/09, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal Europe's Future Leaders Programme with his idea for Alive and Giving, a charity-service business, that helps charities to take donations via their websites.

Link to article>>


London Entrepreneurs' Challenge 2009/10

The London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge is a workshop programme and business plan competition open to all members of UCL and the London Business School that aims to show participants the process of starting a business by helping them do it for themselves.