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Start Up and Away

I'm interested in entrepreneurs and their visions. Especially those who want to make it big and really change people’s lives. It therefore came as a great privilege to be invited to judge the country's biggest and best graduate entrepreneur competition - Varsity Pitch - organised by the excellent people at NACUE. Read on and discover some of the marvellous ideas and the people behind them.

If you are a University student with business ideas then the go-to charity to support you is NACUE (The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs). Designed as a not-for-profit organisation they set out to enable graduates to engage in unique opportunities and develop the skills they need to succeed. Even if you don't set up your own business straight away, you will have had an opportunity to develop in-demand “entrepreneurial” skills that employers can harness and fast track you to senior roles 

Hollie Knower at NACUE explains further. “NACUE’s Varsity Pitch Competition is an annual competition celebrating budding business acumen and early stage ventures coming from universities across the UK. The finalists receive mentorship from some of the biggest minds in business, whilst the winner receives £10,000 to put towards their idea. This year’s competition saw over 1,800 entries from aspiring student and graduate entrepreneurs. Employer interest is at an all-time high with sponsorship coming from Tata, Swiss Re, Lloyds Banking Group, The Rain Gods and the University of Westminster.”

Motus was announced as this year’s winner against some very impressive business pitches. The idea: a robotic glove designed to help stroke patients regain movement in their hands and arms. With a patent pending and huge potential demand among the 150,000 stroke sufferers in the UK, winning the competition was a huge achievement. However, competition was fierce. One business that stood out to Motus Head of Operations, Paloma Vazquez, was Twipes. “I thought their business had a clear purpose, excellent branding and strong people behind it so I really thought they were potential winners. Unexpectedly for me we were the ones to win the funding so naturally we were very delighted.”

Other finalists were Maciek Kacprzyk who pitched a new artisan, ethical and healthy juice product Get Wonky, Nadia Krombi and team are developing an online fashion and lifestyle video magazine Indivisual Magazine, Mohd Muzafar Shan pitched his final major project ‘Introe’, unique swimwear designs created by emerging artists worldwide. Vladislav Antcupov is using technology to provide mobile personal trainers in a fast, easy and efficient manner, whilst co-founder of SPKTRA, Sumaï Bartrand, introduced an innovative technology for a nail polish brand and we heard about Roam Telecoms grid technology for adventurers.

In the end the judges felt Motus was the one that deserved the £10,000 cash injection to help the three founders make it a reality. Paloma adds, “This funding is just what we needed of course but the recognition was also a confidence boost. We are aiming to hit a funding target of £200,000 in the next 12 moths so we can develop the next prototype and begin serious talks with the NHS.”

Finally, I asked about her advice for any budding entrepreneurs out there looking to strike out on their own. “Surround yourself with the right people. People who will challenge and push you I feel is the key to creating something sustainable.”

For further information please contact Dan Hawes at GRB on 01273-200411 or dan@grb.uk.com, Holly Knower at NACUE can be reached on 03333 601746 or holly@nacue.com and Paloma Vazquez at MOTUS at paloma.vazquez@motusinnovations.co.uk.

Dan Hawes is the Marketing Director at Graduate Recruitment Bureau. He hopes to enlighten students, graduates and employers with his wisdom from over 20 years in the industry.  

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