Pitchfest: launching into orbit?

Pitchfest is now an important date in any high-tech entrepreneur’s calendar. This was the sixth event held in Oxford and gives ambitious entrepreneurs with start-up and early stage businesses a great opportunity to raise their profile in front of an audience of well known investors. It is Oxfordshire’s take on Dragon’s Den and, let me tell you, much more exciting!

This week’s Pitchfest, in the snazzy new John Henry Brookes Building at Oxford Brookes, had an amazing line-up of 32 companies across three key sectors: life sciences, new technologies and digital. Each business gets a five-minute slot to present their idea and get investors interested. A real challenge.

The first coffee-fuelled session was the life sciences pitches which saw Combat Medical looking for funding for their hyperthermic cancer treatment delivery system for the bladder and Nalia for a blood test they’re developing that only takes 10 minutes. Alcarelle Holdings got people talking about the development of their synthetic alternative to alcohol – it will give drinkers all the fun fizzy upsides of a night out but without the organ damage and hangover. CEO David Orren said this could save the government a cool £22 million  that they currently spend annually on medical treatments, loss of productivity and violence as a result of alcohol abuse. And if these businesses weren’t successful at this round of Pitchfest there was another opportunity to hand – they could launch their idea on Capital Cell – a life sciences crowd equity platform – that also presented in this category.

The next session was the technology and miscellaneous category. We heard from Buzz Technology about co-bots – or collaborative robots – that can help us with things like food preparation and the washing up! We also heard about a new, comfy carbon aircraft seat, a Curiosity Box that helps parents get their kids engaged in science, and Chewymoon, a new range of healthy and tasty snacks for kids.

The last session on new digital ideas was jam-packed – there were presentations on tracking sensors for horses, a zero-commission stockbroking app and a “container” technology that allows PC applications to run on any device – on and offline. One of the most exciting pitches was from Open Cosmos Ltd, based at Harwell, who have designed a nanosatellite (with all the skills of a normal satellite but much, much smaller)  that they’re launching in a few weeks’ time. It’s what they call a “one-stop shop to orbit”. Fancy that!

Run by Venturefest – of which the Trust is a core partner – Pitchfest has now seen several innovative start-ups in Oxfordshire secure funding like Adaptix, Oxford Space Systems and Duocentis Bio Therapeutics.  Let’s hope some of today’s entries find success too. They could be the multi-million businesses of the future.

All pitches are automatically put forward for our prestigious Enterprise Awards 2017 that recognise and celebrate entrepreneurs and innovation businesses across the region. The awards are announced the evening before Venturefest and are sponsored by Barclays, Marks & Clark, and Triteq. Watch this space! We might be in orbit by then. Who knows.

The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards: 20th June, King’s Centre, OX2 0ES
Venturefest: 21st June, King’s Centre, OX2 0ES