UCL Bright Ideas Awards

The Bright Ideas Awards help fledgling companies get the key funding that they need to grow.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great idea or fledgling company and looking for start-up capital? If so, the Bright Ideas Awards might be right up your street.

Are you a new company searching for your first round of funding? The Bright Ideas Awards might be just what you’re looking for.

Launched in 2008, The Bright Ideas Awards aim to bridge the gap many new companies find themselves in when they search for t heir first funding. This can be a problem in the university context, where businesses might have a seed of an idea or emerge from unconventional beginnings, but are not yet ready for venture capital investment.

A total of £100,000 in funding is available to share between new businesses. It’s specifically allocated to businesses that can show they can reach the next crucial milestone in their development through this funding, whether it’s creating a prototype or using it to land their first customer.

Recent winners have included Bio-Bean, HaikuJAM, Aero Forza, Beba Mtoto!, ComComm, CurrencyBird, SellPlex, Smartzer. Along with the prize money, winners gain access to intensive 1-to-1 mentoring, space in the UCL Hatchery and the chance for further training opportunities through UCL Advances.


“Winning a UCL Bright Ideas Award has been a transformative experience for bio- bean. It has acted as a huge booster, accelerating bio-bean from an idea, to a business, beyond what we thought would be possible. We were pitching for substantial financial support, but the assistance t hat we received through mentoring from the UCL Advances Team, along with legal advice , office space and introductions to the people we needed to meet, has helped us build a social enterprise which will create both environmental and economic value”.
2013 Bright Ideas Winner Arthur Kay, Director, bio- bean Ltd

bio-bean recycle coffee grounds into biodiesel and biomass pellets, using a unique combination of three existing ideas: waste collection, biomass pellet production and biodiesel production.

Bright Ideas Haiku

Invisible bulb
Often lights up in my head
And powers my mind

2013 Bight Ideas Winner Dhrupad Karwa, Founder, HaikuJAM

HaikuJAM is a web and mobile application through which people write haiku poems together, using photo-integration, competitions, “gamification” and other features. HaikuJAM provides creative people with a dynamic an d colourful digital haiku writing platform.

“With these awards, the total of loans offered by UCL to its students to help start businesses has topped £500,000 over the last four years,” says Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances. “There can't be any other university in the UK that is showing that level of commitment to entrepreneurship or that much faith in its own students. They, and their ideas, are remarkable. I am proud of all of them.”

To be eligible for the awards, you need to be a UCL student, post-graduate student or recent alumni (graduated in the past 12 months). Most of the businesses eligible are drawn from UCL’s own MSc Technology Entrepreneurship Programme and from the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge programme.

For more details about the 2015 Bright Ideas competition, email the UCL Enterprise Student Business Advisors at sba@ucl.ac.uk .

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