Three Innovative Exeter start-ups pitched their businesses in front of HRH Duke of York and an array of business people and investors at the prestigious Pitch@Palace final this month.
OTA Water, a Devon-based start-up which grew from research at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems, design and install rainwater management systems which help alleviate flooding and droughts with the added social benefit of reducing people’s water bills.
Buildsolar, created from research at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, aims to create sustainably-built environments by developing multi-functional materials that turn buildings into clean energy generators.
Biosystems Technology, a spin-out company from the University of Exeter, provides low-cost, high-throughput, ethical screening solutions for scientists working in the life sciences and healthcare sectors.
Each start-up presented its business at St James Palace along with 30 other new businesses from across the UK.
Founded by the Duke of York in 2014, Pitch@Palace helps entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses connect with potential supporters, including CEOs, influencers, investors, mentors and business partners. The annual competition sees entrepreneurs from across the UK pitch at regional ‘Pitch@Palace On Tour’ events, with 42 winners going on to Pitch@Palace Boot Camp. From here, 12 winning entrepreneurs are selected by a panel of judges to deliver a three-minute pitch to an influential audience at St James’s Palace on 12 June 2019. The remaining 30 companies each get a 30-second slot to pitch.
Clodagh Murphy, Chair for the Exeter Initiative for Science and Technology (ExIST) spoke of her experience of the Pitch@Palace: “Having had no exposure to Pitch@Palace before being asked to judge the Devon event in February, I have been incredibly impressed with how well organised the events are and how committed the whole Pitch@Palace team are to supporting Entrepreneurs. I had the pleasure of becoming and ‘Elevator’ to one of the final businesses. In essence and Elevator supports and mentors the Entrepreneur through the process so that they get the most out of the whole experience for themselves and their business. There is no doubt that this is a ‘must-do’ for any Entrepreneur, the Duke of York and his team are passionate and work tirelessly to utilities their network so that they help accelerate the growth of each and every Entrepreneur that takes part.”
Pete Melville-Shreeve, Founder and CEO of OTA Water, said: “Providing environmental and social benefits is something we’re absolutely passionate about, so it was great to get the chance to tell a wider audience more about what we do. We made some great contacts and learnt a lot about pitching our business to investors. With floods and water scarcity an increasing issue world-wide, we believe investing now in smart rainwater management is vitally important.”
Jim Williams, Co-inventor and Exeter’s Research Commercialisation Manager in Cornwall remarked on the experience: “The pitch went well, albeit getting trumpeted by the Royal guard for going over time! We only had 30 seconds this time so it was quite a challenge. The connections that the Duke’s team have made for us have been beyond anything we could have hoped for and will undoubtedly have a huge positive impact on the growth of our business. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this year’s program and recommend other start-up businesses with big ideas in the region to apply.”
Reflecting on her Pitch@Palace encounter, Dr Olivia Champion CEO of Biosystems Technology said: “It was a wonderful experience to take part in Pitch@Palace 11.0. The organising team were so helpful, the networking opportunities were fantastic but for me the highlight was meeting the other entrepreneurs and hearing what they are all doing. After watching the news these days the world can seem like a pretty dismal place. When I met the other entrepreneurs and heard about their business ideas, their vision to make their patch of the world a bit better, it gave me a small glimmer of hope for the future.”
Applications are now open for Pitch@Palace 12.0 which has a broad technology theme. The On Tour event series takes place in September 2019. SETsquared Surrey are helping to coordinate the regional tour on 20 September. For more information and to apply visit: https://pitchatpalace.com/events/pitchpalace-12-0/