UCL Innovation and Enterprise


UCL student business reach Varsity Pitch competition semi-finals

29 October 2012

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Four businesses run by UCL students have reached the semi-finals of the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs’ Varsity Pitch competition.

The four businesses – MiniManuscript, Old Bond London, Matopy and Monstercard – will compete to be crowned winner in the competition’s semi-finals on 29 October in three of the six business catagories.

Winners will go through to an intensive Business Bootcamp and then go on to compete in the finals, pitching in front of an anticipated audience of 150 and with the chance to win £10,000 to invest in their business.

Website Minimanuscript, which will include thousands of summarises of research articles, as well as drawing together media coverage and interpretations from Youtube, blogs and other researchers in one place, will compete in the Tata Blue Skies Award for Disruptive Business category.

The site will also enable academics to showcase their own research, and readers to summarise what they’ve read in a similar way to Wikipedia. It is the brainchild of Jake Fairnie, 25, a PhD student in cognitive neuroscience at UCL and Anna Remington, 30, a Junior Research Fellow at University College, Oxford, who came up with the idea when having to plough through large numbers of research papers when researching their PhD theses.

Competing in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths category are Old Bond London and Matopy.

Old Bond London’s Art Stavenka, a UCL PhD student, recently appearing on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den and successfully won £90,000 of investment with his innovative business advertising with animations on bike wheels.

Matopy, meanwhile, is run by Hywel Carver, a current PhD student at UCL in Mathematics and Physics, and his business partner. The business aims to revolutionise the way that blind people can get online through providing a simple and easy to use audio interface to describe and engage with the web.

Finally, a team of UCL undergraduates led by Jonny Manfield and Alex Emms, along with friends Gameli Ladzepko and Finn Harries, are pitching with their business Monstercard, which enables a variety of discounts on food, drinks and other student essentials like shopping, travel and student lifestyle. The team will be participating in the Leisure and Hospitality category, sponsored by the London Metropolitan Business School.

Student Business Advisor Lillian Shapiro was delighted by the news.
“It’s a real mark of how strong the business ideas of our students are that so many from UCL are in the semi-finals of the competition,” she said. “It’s a mark of success for UCL Advances, too, that the support we’re offering is a solid springboard to success for so many students.”