Imperial College London

Imperial's most promising student startups get set to pitch their business ideas


Dotplot, one of the student teams competing in the VCC final

Five Imperial student startups will battle it out in the final of the College’s biggest entrepreneurial competition, the Venture Catalyst Challenge.

From plant-based meat to biodegradable ‘plastic’ packaging made from seaweed, the teams represent some of the College’s most promising, forward-thinking businesses. 

At the competition final, the five teams will pitch their ground-breaking ideas to a panel of industry judges in the hope of winning a top prize of £20,000 to kickstart their business. 

The Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC) is the College’s largest entrepreneurial competition for students and alumni, enabling them to develop an innovative idea for commercialisation. It challenges them to turn their ideas into new technologies, products and businesses based around five key tracks: 

  • AI & Robotics  
  • Creative & Consumer 
  • Digital & Fintech 
  • Energy & Environment  
  • Health & Wellbeing  

Run by Imperial Enterprise Lab, Imperial’s dedicated centre for student entrepreneurship, VCC provides access to seven intensive weeks of masterclasses, coaching, and meetings with experts, all with one aim – to help students and alumni bring their idea to commercial reality while growing their knowledge, skills, and network.  

25 teams, divided into the five themed tracks, pitched to expert panels in the competition’s heats in March. The winner of each track was awarded £10,000 and is now competing to win the £20,000 Grand Prize in the competition’s final on Thursday 24 March – the first time the event has been held in person for three years. 

Find out more about the competing teams: 

AI & Robotics: automating quality control 

Self.AI is developing a 3-in-1 platform, powered by artificial intelligence, to help food trading companies manage quality control. This is done by tracking shipments, classifying product images and recommending sustainable suppliers.

Creative & Consumer: plant-based meat 

Sow Foods make fresh, healthy, plant-based meat. Using special formulation and production methods, the team say their products have a distinguished chewy texture, outstanding flavours and are made from simple ingredients.  

Sow Food

Digital & Fintech: controlling information 

Polarise is a platform to see and control what information devices and services hold and reveal about you. Their DEPTH Network technology securely tunnels all device traffic to their servers to predict what information about the user they are revealing. Their app displays this, and allows users to easily stop information exposure.


Energy & Environment: plastic packaging alternative 

FlexSea are developing novel bioplastic films derived from seaweed, with the potential to replace single-use flexible plastic packaging in both food and non-food applications. The team say that FlexSea is home compostable and degradable, disappearing in nature within 8-12 weeks without leaving any harmful traces behind. 


Health & Wellbeing: breast health monitoring 

Dotplot is a breast health monitoring tool designed to help women look after their breasts. Their tool offers guided self-checks and month-by-month comparisons of breast tissue composition to flag abnormalities as early as possible. The team’s goal is to alleviate the confusion and misconceptions surrounding breast self-checks. 


Challenging the status quo 

Two additional prizes were awarded to teams who challenged the status quo and whose work has a positive impact on society. 

The Moonshot Prize was awarded to MakeSense for challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries of innovation. They were awarded £10,000 for their innovation to build technology for visually impaired people.  

The Social Impact prize of £10,000 was awarded to Oshen for their work inspired by a desire to have a positive impact on society. This team are developing a small sailboat designed for long, fully autonomous passages in harsh marine environments.  

This year's competition is powered by Huawei.  


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Enterprise, Events, Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Student-entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship
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