Imperial College London

White City Campus hosts The Duke of York’s entrepreneurship competition


HRH The Duke of York with Entrepreneurs at the Pitch@Palace bootcamp

Some of the UK’s most exciting start-ups convened at Imperial’s White City Campus to compete in Pitch@Palace 11.0 Boot Camp.

Pitch@Palace was founded by The Duke of York in 2014 to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs. It provides a platform for businesses to pitch to some of the most influential business leaders and investors from across the UK’s technology, innovation and business communities.

Since the initiative was set up, Pitch@Palace has supported 851 businesses, creating 3,669 new jobs and generating over £900 million of new economic activity. Notable alumni of the programme include Magic Pony, a machine learning and image recognition start-up founded by Imperial graduates Zehan Wang and Rob Bishop. The firm met their investors at Pitch@Palace, and went on to sell their company to Twitter for a reported $150 million.

Incredible new businesses

Pitch@Palace 11.0 Boot Camp was held in Imperial’s new Molecular Science Research Hub on Wednesday 8 May, hosted by Imperial Enterprise Lab. 42 entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in the hope of securing one of twelve three minute pitches at Pitch@Palace 11.0 on 12 June. The rest of the entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch for 30 seconds at the Main Event at St James’ Palace.

During the day, the competing entrepreneurs also heard from leading figures in industry, and previous Imperial Pitch@Palace contestants - including Imperial-founded firms BLOCKS and FreshCheck - as well as receiving coaching and mentoring on their business and their pitch.

Speaking at the event, His Royal Highness The Duke of York said: “It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to come up with an idea and to see it through. This particular idea of producing an organisation that can support growing and scaling companies was a single event idea back in 2014 and today, Pitch@Palace has grown and developed into over 60 countries. We are looking and seeing and touching really incredible new businesses, and scaling ideas around the world.

HRH The Duke of York at Pitch@Palace

“As of today, every single one of you is a Pitch Alumnus. It has been a great privilege to hear some incredibly good ideas today and to see how high the standard is of growing and scaling companies in the UK. This is really encouraging, and there are lots of things I think we can do to help. I wish you all every success and we look forward to seeing you all again at St James’s Palace on 12th June for the main event.”

The event also featured five keynote speakers: Hanadi Jabado, Pitch@Palace Director from Cambridge Judge Business School, Will King, founder of The King of Shaves and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of easyGroup.

Five Imperial start-ups were among those pitching at the event. Imperial-founded start-up Jelly Drops, was chosen for one of the twelve three minute pitching slots in the final stage at the competition.

Jelly Drops

Lewis Hornby, a former Innovation Design Engineering student at Imperial and the Royal College of Art, has developed super-hydrating bite-sized treats to help avert dehydration in dementia patients. Lewis says that dehydration is a serious problem for dementia patients, because they often can’t or don’t want to drink liquids. To tackle this, Lewis designed treats made from more than 90% water, designed to excite and engage dementia patients and be easy to grasp and swallow.

Matoha Ultrascience

Matoha Ultrascience
Matoha Ultrascience in an Imperial lab

Hans Chan, an undergraduate student from the Department of Chemistry and co-founder of Matoha Ultrascience, explained how his start-up is developing low-cost sorting machines for plastic and fabric recycling using infrared spectroscopy. The team hope that their innovation will help to tackle global plastic pollution by empowering the world’s poorest communities - who currently lack access to sorting machines - to appropriately deal with their plastic waste.


Dennis Helderman, an alumnus from Imperial College Business School, took to the stage to pitch Rentuu - a centralised marketplace that connects event organisers with vetted equipment hire suppliers. Through Rentuu, organisers can hire virtually anything they need for their event - including furniture, AV equipment, electronics, catering kit, and event props. The team aim to drive efficiency, value, and transparency in the sector.


Imperial PhD student Zainab Ahmed, co-founder of QuickCount, explained how her start-up is looking to tackle antimicrobial resistance with a quick and inexpensive fingerprick blood test. Antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, but the symptoms of bacterial and viral infections can appear very similar. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics are key factors contributing to antibiotic resistance. QuickCount’s point-of-care blood analysis tool is designed to help doctors and pharmacists determine whether a patient has a bacterial or viral infection, reducing the prescription of unnecessary antibiotics.


Alexa Segal
Alexa Segal

Alexa Segal, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Health Economics at Imperial College Business School, pitched Queeries - a training provider for medical practitioners to help them better communicate with, support and treat LGBT+ people. With Queeries, Alexa aims to improve healthcare for LGBT+ patients and remove barriers from them seeking medical care. Alexa was a finalist in Imperial’s 2018 WE Innovate competition for women entrepreneurs.

Groundbreaking ideas

The event was hosted at Imperial’s White City campus by Imperial Enterprise Lab which works to support enterprising activity across the College by providing access to state of the art facilities, training, mentoring and a range of programmes to help Imperial’s student innovators develop new business ideas, hone their pitching skills and raise their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Ben Mumby-Croft, Director of Imperial Enterprise Lab said: “We were honoured to host The Duke of York and Pitch@Palace Boot Camp 11.0 event at Imperial’s White City Campus. White City is a fast growing innovation and entrepreneurship eco-system, so it was fantastic to bring the 42 teams, including five from Imperial, here to pitch their ground-breaking ideas.”

  • Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of easyGroup.

    Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of easyGroup.

  • Hanadi Jabado, Pitch@Palace Director from Cambridge Judge Business School

    Hanadi Jabado, Pitch@Palace Director from Cambridge Judge Business School

  • Will King, founder of The King of Shaves

    Will King, founder of The King of Shaves

David Gann, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at Imperial College Business School added: “Imperial College London is proud to have been involved with Pitch@Palace from the beginning. Pitch@Palace is itself a highly successful venture putting the spotlight on entrepreneurs around the world, with a network that fosters success.

“Pitch@Palace Boot Camp 11.0 at our White City Campus demonstrated the force-multiplier that collaboration brings between a brilliant global initiative and a top STEM university. We wish entrepreneurs from this cohort every success in developing their businesses.”


Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications Division

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