Duke of York's entrepreneur competition comes to Imperial


Lifebox founder Malav Sanghavi with HRH the Duke of York

Lifebox, led by Malav Sanghavi from the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial, is one team to reach the final

Imperial College London played host to Pitch@Palace Bootcamp on Wednesday 14 October

Imperial knows how to create value from ideas. It is therefore fitting that we are the first university to host Pitch@Palace bootcamp.

– Professor David Gann CBE

Vice-President (Development and Innovation)

More than 40 start-ups flocked to Imperial for the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of an audience of industry experts, academics, and The Duke of York.

Pitch@Palace aims to support entrepreneurs by connecting them with potential supporters and investors. Imperial is the first university to host Pitch@Palace Bootcamp, which acts as a one-day selection event to determine which teams secure a place at the final stage of the competition held at St James’s Palace.

The theme for the fourth Pitch@Palace is the Internet of Things and Smart Cities, and the competition was open to start-ups whose products and services are helping to create a smarter world and empowering people to interact with objects and their environment.

Doppel, created by Imperial's Team Turquoise

Doppel, created by Imperial's Team Turquoise

During the day, the competing entrepreneurs heard from leading figures in industry, Imperial academic experts and previous Imperial Pitch@Palace contestants, as well as receiving coaching and mentoring on their business and their pitch. The successful teams were decided by a judging panel, including Imperial’s Professor David Gann CBE, Vice-President (Development and Innovation).

Speaking ahead of the event, HRH the Duke of York said: “I’m delighted to be at Imperial College London, one of the country’s premier institutions of knowledge, for Pitch@Palace 4.0.

Creating value from ideas

Of the five Imperial teams that took part, two have been selected by the judges to pitch their ideas at St James’s Palace in November.

Lifebox, led by Malav Sanghavi - a student from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering - is a low cost baby incubator that provides the basic functions necessary for child’s survival in their first days of life. It is intended for use in the developing world, where access to such facilities can be limited. Made from cardboard, the bottom part of the incubator can be given to the parent of the child after birth as a make-shift cot.

Malav received a £500 grant from Imperial College Advance Hackspace to help him develop the prototype of his product.

Malav said: “It has been a fantastic day and I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to pitch at St James’s Palace. It’s particularly motivating as a social enterprise  to be recognised in this way.  

“Having access to the facilities, expertise, and funding at Imperial has been hugely helpful in the development of Lifebox. As students, this kind of support is invaluable.”

Hal Watts, Co-Founder of Knyttan

Hal Watts, Co-Founder of Knyttan

Also through to the final stage of Pitch@Palace is Knyttan, co-founded by Hal Watts and Ben Alun-Jones – former students on Imperial’s Innovation Design Engineering course delivered jointly with the Royal College of Art. Knyttan has developed a new way of controlling industrial knitting machines so that so that designs could easily be adapted, enabling customers to create their own unique jumper by customising its design.

The event concluded with an evening showcase of entrepreneurship at Imperial. Among those on display were Team Turquoise, an Imperial team who won the People’s Choice Award at Pitch@Palace 3.0 for their product Doppel – a device which helps people harness their body's response to rhythm to relax or energise themselves.

Professor David Gann

Professor David Gann CBE

Professor David Gann CBE, Vice-President (Development and Innovation) said: “Cities like London are experiencing growth like never before, but this comes with challenges. Our rapidly rising population is creating new pressures on transport, healthcare, energy and digital infrastructure. If we are to adapt to meet these challenges, we must harness our creative strengths and embrace new technologies to improve our public services and make our cities smarter.

“London needs inventors, entrepreneurs, and investors to work together. That’s why initiatives like Pitch@Palace matter. 

“At Imperial, we boast not only world-leading expertise in science, engineering, medicine and business, but a culture of innovation that few can rival. Our students and researchers are using their academic talents to find new solutions to society’s grand challenges. In under a decade our Incubator has attracted more than a billion dollars of investment, and 60 companies have grown within its walls. We know how to create value from ideas. It is therefore fitting that we are the first university to host Pitch@Palace bootcamp. I look forward to seeing what the teams have in store.”


Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3921
Email: d.evanson@imperial.ac.uk

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