£100,000 start-up funding up for grabs at university pitching contest

Business community invited to meet next generation of founders

Founders will vie for a share of £100,000 in start-up funding at an event that showcases the work of dozens of young entrepreneurs.

The business community can watch University students, staff and recent graduates compete at the Dragons’ Den-style event on May 7.

They can also visit an exhibition of creative business ideas from students who are about to graduate from the University’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Held in the University’s Richmond Building in Clifton, Bristol, the day involves:

  • Runway pitching awards: Start-ups with a connection to the University of Bristol will pitch for a slice of £75,000 in funding from the University’s student incubator Runway
  • Quantum pitching awards: Quantum-related start-ups from the University will pitch for £25,000 in funding
  • Student showcase: See the latest world-changing ideas from students. Ideas include AI music production, immersive learning experiences and new ways to teach financial literacy

The judging panel for the Runway pitching awards is made up of University alumni who have gone on to business success. The quantum awards panel is made up of investment professionals. Winners from both competitions will be announced on the day.

Investors, businesspeople and anyone with an interest in start-ups are welcome to come along.

Tom Ellson, Director of the University of Bristol Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said: “Business plans are being finalised and pitches are being polished for what is set to be our biggest funding contest yet.

“These competitions are always a highlight of the year and we’d love to see lots of Bristol locals there. It’s an opportunity to see some amazing ideas and meet a crop of talented young people who will soon be entering the job market.”

The £100,000 in funding was generously donated by University of Bristol alumni and the Jim and Peggy Wilkinson Innovation Fund, established by the late Mr and Mrs Wilkinson to help exciting ideas get off the ground.

Winners receive the funding as a grant and there is no obligation to pay it back. They are asked to sign up the Entrepreneurs’ Pledge, a non-binding agreement to help fund future University start-up competitions if they find business success. 

Last year’s funding winners included:

  • SLANT: A tap-to-rent electric shopping trailer that attaches to a bicycle or e-scooter
  • RemapImproving how people think, feel and perform through mental training routines
  • Ignaz: An innovative solution to reduce pressure sores in hospital beds
  • ImpulsonicsSimplifying biotech lab automation by using sound waves to move cells
  • MifuAI automating micro-influencer marketing for better engagement with film audiences 
  • Light Trace PhotonicsA technical solution to rapidly set up experimental photonics rigs to simulate new products

Ben Wainwright, Chief Technology Officer at Remap, said: “At Remap, we’re making mental fitness as common as physical fitness by teaching people how to train their mind to improve wellbeing and performance.

“The Runway Awards was a fantastic experience for us to showcase and get feedback on our plans to grow the business. The competition led to an invitation to run a mental fitness workshop at an innovation conference, whist the prize money has helped us to launch our monthly events series and create content for our upcoming online community.”

The Showcase is part of Innovation Week 2024, which also includes an ‘Inspiring Innovation’ conference on the Thursday.

To find out more and sign up visit this page.