Entrepreneurs from Imperial College London, King's College London and UCL pitched their businesses to investors at this year’s Demo Day.
15 companies from the three universities took part in the event held at Imperial, hoping to raise between £100,000 and £1 million. The businesses ranged from sustainable nappies and wastewater disease surveillance to real-time blood analysis.
The annual collaboration event celebrates an innovative way of introducing investors to innovation and entrepreneurial talent at London universities, and demonstrates the new and deeper ways universities are contributing to the civic agenda and helping to drive economic growth.
Research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency found that graduate startups and social enterprises contributed over £822m to the UK economy alone in 2018. The 30 teams who pitched at the first two London Demo Day events have gone onto raise £54.36M and created 397 jobs.
The Imperial companies pitching on the day were:
Real-time blood analysis
Beyond Blood are developing a portable medical device that enables doctors to monitor the blood cells of cancer patients remotely.
Their portable full blood count device enables patients to test themselves at home more frequently, eliminating the need to travel to the hospital for blood tests and letting doctors know when patients are ready for their next round of chemotherapy at the most optimal time. The team say this would save the NHS money and help patients to feel more in control of their care.
Beyond Blood was founded by PhD graduate Manfredi San Germano.
The UN found that disposable nappies are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste globally. Every minute around the world over 300,000 disposable nappies enter landfills, where they will take decades to decompose.
Cleannest are developing nappies that, the team say, combine performance and sustainability by using both environmentally friendly and high-quality materials to develop a 100% biodegradable nappy.
Cleannest was founded by graduates Morgan Mixon and Rima Suppan.
Karfu is an impartial comparison website for all types of vehicles, from cars to electric scooters. The team say their website helps people to understand the choices of vehicle available to them – such as cars, vans or scooters – and the ways they can access them, including buying, leasing, sharing or renting.
According to the team, their service helps people and businesses to save money and time, measure the environmental impact of vehicles and shows them how to access and enjoy the benefits of alternative mobility options.
Karfu was founded by Executive MBA graduates Dominic Thomas and Sam Ellis.
Improving knee replacements
OSSTEC has created technology which aims to improve partial knee replacement – a treatment designed to help younger patients where only the diseased part of a knee joint needs to be replaced.
The team has created 3D printed titanium structures which mimic how bone naturally grows and heals itself, which can be used to improve implants being fitted.
OSSTEC aims to produce the world’s first partial knee replacement that, by mimicking the bone’s properties, maintains the patient’s bone health – allowing the joint to behave in a natural way and improving patients' quality of life.
OSSTEC was founded by Mechanical Engineering research assistant Maxwell Munford.
Wastewater disease surveillance
Untap are developing intelligent community health monitoring using sewage. Their solution is wastewater surveillance that could monitor a whole community for diseases such as coronavirus in one test, ensuring 100% participation.
The team say that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, viral transmission in workplaces and communities was a multi-billion-pound problem. Now, they say, workplaces and community spaces demand better safeguarding against infectious diseases, however monitoring outbreaks by testing individuals is expensive, time consuming and invasive (e.g., taking blood and saliva samples).
Untap was co-founded by Faculty of Engineering PhD graduates Dr Claire Trant and Dr Jay Bullen.
The event’s keynote speaker was Dr Olivia Ahn, Imperial graduate and founder of Planera, a company developing flushable sanitary pads. Olivia, who pitched at the first London Demo Day in 2019, said: “We are all here to drive change. Whether it’s to invest in the problems, to solve them, to shout about them, everything about start up is all about driving change. Creating something from zero, taking us from zero to one. And businesses can then grow from that one to 100.”
Planera will launch its products to the mainstream market in November 2022, following successful pre-seed investment after London Demo Day 2019.
Imperial's President Professor Hugh Brady gave the event's closing remarks, announcing the London Demo Day will be renewed for another series of events, running from 2023 to 2026, this time joined by the London School of Economics’ LSE Generate programme.
LSE Generate is the school’s home for entrepreneurship which supports students and alumni to build a socially responsible business in the UK and beyond.
Photo credit: Jo Mieszkowski
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
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