Grand Challenge prize winners 2020


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Congratulations to ES Tech and Defynance who won this years’ Entrepreneurial Journey Grand Challenge Prize as part of their MBA programme. The winning teams, who both won £1,500, were:

  • Clarissa Agnew and Kristle Haroon, both Weekend MBA students who pitched ES Tech, which provides secure, anonymous online electoral voting powered by blockchain.
  • Cameron Orcutt, Samuel Hatley and Khalid Alyousef, current Full-Time MBA students who pitched for Defynance, an alternative financing to democratic home ownership.

The Entrepreneurial Journey Grand Challenge Prize is a six-month project aiming to simulate the launching of a startup and build the entrepreneurial skills of Full-Time, Executive, and Weekend MBA candidates. This team-based project sees students taking an idea for a new product or service, developing a value proposition, carrying out customer discovery research, validating the product or service, and creating a plan for how to realise the business proposition.

The project culminated in an online pitch to a panel of investors to compete for seed funding for their startup. One of the judges was alumnus Stefano Ciampolini (Full-Time MBA 1994), CEO of Renal Services, who sponsored the prize for the second year running.

" “The Grand Challenge Prize is an award for the MBA entrepreneurial project that tackles a major societal challenge. Thank you to our alumnus Stefano Ciampolini for sponsoring this really timely prize that is open to all our of MBA students taking part in the Entrepreneurial Journey.” "
Academic director of the Imperial MBA and academic director of the Imperial Enterprise Lab and curates the Entrepreneurial Journey
Markus Perkmann
"Stefano was inspired by his Imperial MBA experience and connection to the Business School to create this prize: “For over 10 years I have been mentoring and coaching students at Imperial College to share my experience and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. By establishing an annual Grand Challenge prize last year, I wanted to encourage the next generation of students at the Business School to let their entrepreneurial spirit loose and present value by creating impactful solutions to current challenges.”"
Stefano Ciampolini (Full-Time MBA 1994),
CEO of Renal Services, sponsors of the Grand Challenge Prize
Stefano Ciampolini (FT MBA 1994)

Defynance overview

Deposits are the biggest hurdle to home ownership for first time homebuyers. Defynance aims to introduce a real estate financing programme where homebuyers purchase a property with deposit financed through an equity sharing scheme. As the homeowner lives in the property, the property appreciates in value. The home is sold or refinanced and investors reap any capital gains on their share of the property.

ES Tech overview

ES Tech is a blockchain powered online voting platform. It uses design thinking research to build a product for the customer, designed with support from Professor Stigliani from Imperial College Business School. The aim is to turn the British built voting system, the oldest English-speaking democracy, into the most modern.


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