From e-trolleys to sustainable fashion – enterprising start-ups scoop £30k in Bristol Uni contest

June 21, 2024

An app that helps fight fast fashion and a business building electric trolleys to reduce car dependency are among the latest winners in an awards scheme that has been responsible for helping launch some of Bristol’s most exciting firms.

Other finalists in the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition included a developer of the first wearable ‘deep pressure device’ for women with ADHD and autism and a company looking to improve waste flows. 

Some 15 student and graduate start-ups pitched their business plans to a panel of business experts – with the four winners sharing the £30,000 prize fund.

The contest, now in its 24th year history, has spotted a number of highly innovative entrepreneurial businesses over that time, including hand-tracking software innovator Ultraleap (then called Ultrahaptics), vertical farming pioneer Lettus Grow and Peequal, the UK’s first touch-free women’s urinal, which is on course to slash toilet queues at 30 festivals this summer.

This year’s winners were:

SLANT, which walked away with the top prize of £15,000 and 12-month membership of the world-class SETsquared Bristol incubator.

SLANT is building electric trolleys – called ‘e-carriages’ – to help people and businesses reduce their car dependency. Its vehicles aim to reduce unnecessary car journeys and help those who do not drive to move their shopping, children or cargo easily and sustainably.

The business was started by a team of five who met on the University of Bristol’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship master’s program.

SLANT co-founder Artemis Fragkopoulos said he was “ecstatic” at winning, adding: “We’ll use this to develop a minimal marketable product to get pre-orders and to start generating revenue.”

Weaving Change won £7,500 and a six-month membership of SETsquared Bristol. Its app will model users’ clothes on a personalised avatar and use an algorithm to suggest outfit ideas.

The team behind it believe it will “connect people with their wardrobes” and encourage them to buy fewer clothes by giving them fresh outfit ideas.

Weaving Change CEO Weronika Stelmach, who graduated top of her MSci in Chemistry, said: “It makes me feel optimistic and encouraged that funding is going toward sustainability, and sustainable fashion in particular. We’re mission-driven and it’s exciting to see there’s a space for impact driven businesses.”

Accommodeep, which won £2,500, is developing the first wearable ‘deep pressure device’ suitable for women.

Started by University of Bristol Economics graduate Louisa Billington, it builds on research that shows deep pressure – such as weighted blankets – can relieve anxiety, particularly for people with ADHD and autism. Accommodeep says the market currently does not provide deep pressure vests that fit women’s different body shapes.

Lettus Digest, which won £1,500 along with the People’s Choice Award, offers a “comprehensive solution to reduce landfill refusals, improve waste flows and foster sustainable resource management”.

The competition was organised by the University of Bristol Careers Service, whose assistant director Rob Taffinder said: “We were incredibly impressed by the creative and innovative pitches that these students and graduates brought to the New Enterprise Competition.

“No doubt they will go on to achieve business success.”

SETsquared Bristol director Kim Brook added: “We’re delighted this year to offer incubation support to SLANT and Weaving Change and look forward to working with the founders to take their business ideas to the next level.”

The New Enterprise Competition judging panel is made up of University of Bristol staff and alumni along with business figures from the city.

This year’s judges were:

  • Prof Michele Barbour - University of Bristol associate pro vice-chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation
  • Rupert Baker - founder of  TEAM Up, University of Bristol Mechanical Engineering graduate and a previous winner and now a sponsor of the competition
  • Nathan Guest - partner and solicitor at law firm VWV and New Enterprise Competition sponsor
  • Hannah Chappatte - founder and CEO of Hybr, University of Bristol English and Literature graduate and previous New Enterprise Competition winner
  • Paul Forster - SETsquared Bristol business incubation manager

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