Pitch@Palace 7.0: The Duke of York singles out businesses for good

Pitch@Palace 7.0 catapulted 43 tech start-ups for good to the forefront of the investment community. Here are the winners and the rest that may not have made the voting round, but are still using technology to better humanity.

Pitch@Palace is many things to many people. Whether it’s a springboard for start-ups, an investor’s competitive edge, or an opportunity of a lifetime, Prince Andrew, HRH Duke of York’s initiative marries innovators to kingmakers, and is rolling out to entrepreneur hubs around the world.

Since the initiative was started in 2014, Pitch@Palace has helped 247 start-ups get going, creating 637 new jobs which has generated £246 million of new economic activity. One of the most notable stories is technology business Magic Pony, which met its investors at a Pitch@Palace event. Last year, the British start-up was acquired by Twitter to the tune of $150 million.

“In less than three years, there have been over 500 pitches at events all over the United Kingdom and they have shone a light on the diversity and imagination across the country, clearly demonstrating that pursuing an idea or dream can be realised with knowledge and determination,” the Duke of York said. “The two main aims of Pitch@Palace is bringing connectivity to businesses, and to build a network of growth partners for entrepreneurs.”

Pitch@Palace 7.0 handpicked 43 technology-led start-ups with hearts-of-gold. The theme for this year was human technology, highlighting those businesses who tame technology to address everyday problems, from stemming the skills shortage in developed economies, to making clean water accessible to developing economies.

The 12 finalists took to the stage last night, summarising their passion, hopes and dreams to a room full of investors, business mentors and advisors. After a flurry of tweets and hurried voting on the event app, the top three were announced; and they couldn’t be more varied.

SafetyNet Techologies were voted third most popular on the night, for its light emitting technology for fishermen that can lower by-catch by 90 per cent. The James Dyson Award winning start-up has also received support from famed tech investor, Eric Schmidt. In the pitch, founder Dan Watson explained just how important sustainable fishing is for food security and the preservation of a dying vocation. The company aims to reduce by-catch, the collateral fish caught while trawling, by using light emitting technology that is tailored to attract certain fish while repelling potential by-catch. Watson’s big ask is for introductions to the likes of M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, to help these large corporates find ways to make their seafood supply chain sustainable.

The second most highly voted start-up at the event was TryLife, an interactive media platform inspired by choose-your-own-adventure books where the reader isn’t just passively consuming content, but is an active part of the storytelling process. Founded by Paul Irwin, the platform turns to its own community to build content and sustain various (filmed) outcomes based on the consequences of the viewers’ decisions. “Say you decide to have unprotected sex, the story can unfold to show you nine different consequences of that. You may see kids tweeting out the results of their storyline, shouting ‘I’ve got gonorrhoea’, for example,” Irwin quipped while pitching his business.
TryLife’s main goal is to allow its young users to shape the storyline, helping them evaluate and understand the impact of issues like drug use and violence, with plot routes based on statistics from the real world.

Desolenator can produce around 15 litres of clear water a day from “dirty” water from lakes, rivers, or the sea. Traditional desalination requires a steady stream of generated power, and are usually large scale outfits that require huge sums of government investment. This isn’t an option for many of the world’s most water poor nations. Desolenator disrupts this age-old model of water purification. It just needs sunlight and has no moving parts or filters that need constant maintenance. The result is a modular pilot technology that is quenching the thirst of villages across the world, while encouraging micro-entrepreneurship.

As an internet of things (IoT) device, Desolenator can measure and monitor data such as performance, usage, and geographic data to see how much water has been used, how much energy has been converted, and payment data. In a village, individuals could own a few Desolenators, with which they can sell clean water to earn income for themselves while ensuring water security for the village.

Impressed by its global aspirations, the cleantech start-up won the most votes at Pitch@Palace 7.0.

This year’s finalists

  • BLINK: Humanising Autonomy – a communications device that redefines the relationship between pedestrians and self-driving vehicles
  • BrainwaveBank – a neuroscience platform that takes sophisticated brain imaging out of the lab and makes daily in-home brain health monitoring accessible to everyone
  • Caervest – a quantum leap forward in life saving medical tech that has already saved lives by providing ultra-early powerful cooling to heat compromised patients in remote locations
  • CENTURYTech – a company that uses AI technology to engage learners with a personalised learning experience, whilst empowering educators with real-time data insights
  • Desolenator – a clean technology with the potential to affect the lives of millions by transforming seawater or contaminated water into low cost drinking water using solar power
  • Limitless Travel – an app is harnessing the power technology to make the world accessible to all. It is their mission to revolutionise travel for people with disabilities.
  • OpenBionics –  a company that creates smart prosthetics for children with limb differences to transform them into their favourite superheroes
  • Oxford Heartbeat –  technology that makes cardiovascular surgery more accurate and safe, enabling clinicians to rehearse surgeries to choose the best option for each patient
  • SafetyNet Techologies LTD – technology for fishermen that can lower by-catch by 90 per cent, saving fish, helping fishermen, and protecting an increasingly essential food source now and for the future
  • Smartify – an app that allows users to identify and uncover the great stories behind your favourite art. SMARTIFY CIC uses advanced image-recognition and Augmented Reality (AR) to help people make meaningful connections with art
  • Tech Will Save Us – a digital toolkit that allows adults and children to build tools that help kids to make, play, code and invent
  • TryLife – a platform that creates interactive films, allowing users worldwide to make life choices on behalf of film characters and see the consequences of their actions

The 31 other businesses

  • Aesthetic Integration is leveraging recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence to empower humans to understand what software does, why it does it and what can possibly go wrong
    Alkosens is building a technology that is trying to solve alcohol related problems like drunk driving and early detection of alcohol diseases
  • Ask the Midwife is the first advice app run by midwives for women & families. Users can ask any questions about pregnancy, birth & beyond & get a fast response
  • The Big Learning Company makes a real difference by using digital tools to upskill young people, learners and educators to bring about transformational change in their lives
  • Blue Sky Bio is a UK government (BEIS) backed clean tech R&D firm that is aspiring to develop the world’s first (and only) “atmospheric CO2 absorbing” energy supply chain
  • Boosty helps those with poor Broadband get better speeds today by seamlessly ‘topping up’ with their smartphone’s 4G
  • My Little Explorer alerts parents to wandering children, the big vision is to use the IoT and Beacons to create connected environments that relocate lost kids
  • CitreCycle is a clean lead acid battery recycling (LAB) system gives marginalized workers safe option to informal kettle smelting. It cuts pollution, deaths & infant brain damage
  • CognitionX is a free Search Engine for buyers of AI. Revenue is from advertising and Pro Subscriptions. The 2022 revenue plan is £100m ARR at 90 per cent GM
  • Crowdacure is the first organisation tackling Underfunded Medical Research. Solving funding hardship and underfunding in medical research, could fasten life-changing developments in medicine
  • Echo is a marketplace without money. Members trade skills and services using a currency called Echoes, where 1 Echo = 1 hour
  • Footfalls&Heartbeats has developed an innovative and proprietary process for manufacturing smart wearable textiles where the textile itself is the sensor
  • GALLIVANT is an indie fragrance brand. The freedom to wander and travel. Unisex perfumes for urban explorers. Designed in London, handmade in England
  • Healthera is a health tech company which developed a pharmacy-integrated health management app that tackles medical compliance and brings digital upgrade to pharmacy
  • Helpfulpeeps is a new social network where people share their time, skills and knowledge to help each other for free
  • ImpactVision’s mission is to build a more transparent and effective global food system, using hyperspectral technology
  • Infi-tex is a smart textile company, producing patented textile pressure sensors that are touch sensitive, washable, resilient and adaptable to many uses
  • InsureStreet’s RentPassport enables 100 per cent digital tenant risk and affordability profiling and replaces 6-8 weeks cash deposits with deposit replacement insurance policy
  • Iron Ocean is a specialist SMART textile company with a lifesaving new garment designed to save lives in the oil and gas industry
  • Kraydel is a small, plug & play device enabling the elderly to age safely at home. Packed with sensors, it learns a normal daily routine triggering alerts for any changes. In active mode, Kraydel’s txt, audio & video medicine reminders keep people healthy
  • Learnerbly helps every single person be their best selves at work; curating top learning and development opportunities to accelerate their professional growth
  • MyDidimo radically changes digital experiences. Its software creates a digital version of you, from a single photo, used to enhance VR, games and social media
  • NuVisionR specialises in creating high quality and affordable treatments for ‘front of eye’ disease and trauma in both humans and animals
  • Pharmaseal is developing the first business to business (b2b) clinical trial governance platform for biopharmaceutical companies to manage their clinical trials
  • Cubetto is a LOGO Turtle-inspired, Montessori-approved wooden robot that helps girls and boys aged three and up learn computer programming without screens or literacy
  • REALRIDER® is an industry-first app for motorcyclists; detecting if a rider has had an accident and notifying Emergency Services of the rider’s location
  • SafetyNet Technologies can lower by-catch by 90 per cent, saving fish, helping fishermen, and protecting an increasingly essential food source now and for the future
  • SMARTIFY lets users scan, identify and uncover the great stories behind your favourite art. Set to be the Shazam and Spotify for art, SMARTIFY CIC uses advanced image-recognition and Augmented Reality (AR) to help people make meaningful connections with art
  • The Return Hub is a recruitment firm connecting mid and senior level women who want to re-launch their careers with employers in the Financial Services Sector
  • Time Travellers Tours is Horrible Histories meets Pokémon Go: their story-driven AR-enhanced treasure hunts to historic places
  • TimeLooper lets users “Step Inside History”. It allow visitors to historical and cultural heritage sites around the world relive the incredible events that defined those locations through virtual reality
  • Vision Game Labs uses gaming data to measure vision away from hospital, to predict early vision loss and reduce healthcare costs
  • VRGO is a new kind of connected chair that enables people to move within virtual reality without the need to hold a controller

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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