With 290 seats to fill, the number of attendees stood at 445, completely sold out, on the morning of the Imperial Start-up Showcase. We promised a mixture of advanced, research-based technology ventures from Imperial Innovations’ portfolio coupled with much earlier stage student ventures from our Venture Catalyst Challenge in what we hoped would be a cocktail of ideas and intoxicating visions of the future.
Mark Hammond, a Tech Transfer executive at Imperial Innovations and the founder of Imperial Create Lab, began the evening.
Create Lab’s mission statement:
Create a self sustaining ecosystem of innovators, makers, advisory support and investors that leverages incredible talent right across Imperial to drive creation of ventures that can compete at a global level.
The pitches opened with the measured and wonderfully articulated Spanish tones of Renato Salas-Moreno’s presentation of Slam++.
A PhD research project at Imperial turned enterprise, taking world-leading research into the marketplace, in conversation with the likes of Oculus Rift and other state of the art technologies. Their technology allows machines to understand their environment at the object level immediately.
To many minds, this five minute presentation could not properly encapsulate the real ramifications of their work, which New Scientist has described as allowing computers to learn “like children”.
“We put a socket in your pocket”
Our second pitch of the night came from Carica. They entered the VCC on nothing but a promise: that a technology they had never seen could reduce the time it takes to charge mobile phone battery packs by 90%: down from 60 minutes to 8. Six weeks later, they boomed the legendary words “we put a socket in your pocket” at the crescendo of what was undeniably the most entertaining pitch of the evening.
During the course of the Challenge, they had successfully proven that the pack could indeed be charged in the time they claimed and that the interfacing circuitry to make it into a smartphone charger was possible. Aashish commanded the stage with a loveable, obstreperous confidence that won over much of the audience.
A flat-pack wind-turbine that can be assembled by anyone in under two hours
At the Showcase, the admirably humble Kutoa finally acknowledged the potential of their creation: to initiate a revolution in clean energy in the developing world. A flat-pack wind-turbine that can be assembled by anyone in under two hours, that can supply enough energy for a hundred light bulbs, that requires no heavy machinery or special tools to erect.
Bruno Howard of Kutoa gave a rapid-fire presentation that demonstrated the value of their design.
Kutoa took home the Social Enterprise award. It is tough to make it to the final of a competition like this without a pure technology or profit focus, and we were intent on recognising this achievement.
From left to right; Kelsey Lynn (Imperial Innovations), Scott Sage (DFJ Esprit), Matt Clifford (Entrepreneur First), Tim Davey (OneFineStay), Sofia Hmich (Index Ventures), Tom Tredinnick (eddy), Tim Sadler (eddy) second row: Dabo Chen (eddy), Zack Mitchell (eddy).
eddy brings a truly ingenious approach to home sensing: do it all with sound. A single microphone that can do more than an entire suite of sensors. Their device is able to capture and interpret a huge spectrum of sound, using a novel combination of contemporary techniques. Eddy can discern the weight of your footsteps, the rush of so many cubic centimetres of water, the heartbeat of your home.
Tom’s cool presentation developed a vision of security and efficiency and of home metrics that could expand into the kind of marketplace that future-proofs a product.
eddy took home the £10,000 prize for best pitch, awarded by our brilliant judging panel, pictured above. Matt Clifford, announced the award and praised the experience of the team, the very strong commercial potential of the idea and their highly innovative technology.
“Next up, ‘Next Stop’”; our only pure digital play of the seven VCC teams. Their idea is so remarkably simple that it is easy to accidentally overlook as trivial: they match what you want from your holiday (the sorts of activities you like, your budget, the dates you would like to go) with package deals provided by travel agents that exactly fit those criteria.
Kevin is a natural charmer, his easy presentation style and comic timing (“we put a socket in your pocket, no, wait, that’s not us!”) made the Next Stop proposition hugely appealing.
Lines is about converting the gear you carry whilst skiing starting with your mobile phone. This holistic ski performance tracking package can rule out the embarrassment, expense and antisocial facets of employing a ski instructor.
The team envisions a future where a heads-up display will reward and direct you. Lines are running the world’s first smartphone enabled University ski competition this year.
Each module in the watch can be removed and replaced, housing almost any conceivable element of wearable technology
The VCC showing finished with BLOCKS. They have designed and built a prototype for the world’s first modular smartwatch in an astoundingly short period of time.
This is a technology that is designed to outlast and out-manoeuvre the trend-vulnerable world of gadgets, as an open-source platform that anyone can design software or hardware for. Each module in the watch can be removed and replaced, housing almost any conceivable element of wearable technology, from cameras to additional batteries, to accelerometers and more. Their super-slick video shows the attention to detail of this team throughout the challenge.
It is hard to overstate the quality of the overall 28 team VCC cohort this year
My only regret about the evening was that we could not showcase more teams. It is hard to overstate the quality of the 28 team VCC cohort this year.
Amongst those not pitching on the night were Face Intelligence whose pre-alpha product understands your face better than any previous software, Terrabotics whose brilliant satellite imagery interpretation is being pursued for multiple applications in resource exploration and measurement.
Candiographer whose innovative camera has been featured in FastCompany and Gizmag among others, Biosense who have begun engineering what could be a watershed sensor in cancer drug testing and Snact who manufacture fruit snacks from waste and so many more. Check out the full list here.