UCL School of Management

11 March 2024

UCL School of Management hosts 2024 SustainTech Competition Pitch Day

Pierre-Jean Hanard opening up the Pitching Competition and addressing a full lecture theatre.

Last week, UCL School of Management hosted the second-ever Pitch Day for the UCL School of Management SustainTech Pitching Competition. In collaboration with SustainTech consulting company Tecno International, the competition supports pioneering individuals with fresh ideas who are looking to champion a resilient and sustainable future. 

On the day, 10 of our finalists pitched their ground-breaking startup ideas to a panel of experts, including; Tatyana Bezuglova - Advisor at Planet Positive Lab, Harveen Chugh - Professor in Entrepreneurship at UCL School of Management, Jaysri Thangam - Investor at Fund F by Female Founders and Ruth Weir - Head of Entrepreneurship at UCL Innovation & Enterprise. 

Each finalist competed for the chance of winning one of three prizes: Best Pitch, Best Idea and Audience Choice Award, with the winning team in each category taking home a £1,000 cash prize, 12 months of Business and Technical Mentorship and introductions to Tecno International’s business partners.

We were delighted to have Allegra Fortunato, Tecno International’s Head of Strategy, as our keynote speaker. She described what “SustainTech” entails, why it matters for businesses and future trends in that space. We welcomed guests from within UCL and the wider business community, including experienced angel and VC investors with a focus on sustainability.  

Our winners

It was no easy task for our judges to decide on the winners, as with just five minutes to pitch and three minutes to answer questions minutes it put our entrepreneurs and judges to the test. There were some excellent business models from a digital infrastructure required to systematically address and fund climate and human rights litigation, and sustainable grocery platforms to circular consumption models to reduce waste on university campuses - there was a lot to choose from. 

Re-Block took home the prize for Best Pitch. They impressed the judges with their innovative, AI-empowered system that revolutionises the construction industry by providing low-carbon building materials, contributing to a sustainable and eco-friendly future.

Ouroboros won the Best Idea Award, with the startup aiming to create a carbon-neutral alternative to the fossil fuel industry and close the carbon cycle using cell-free enzymes that produce biofuels. 

Finally, Re-Ovum won the Audience Choice Award with its innovative focus on biotechnology to transform waste eggshells into sustainable wound dressings and eco-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging, pioneering a new wave of waste repurposing.

A big congratulations to all the winners of the UCL School of Management SustainTech Pitching Competition, and to all other finalists for their exceptional ideas and dedication. The passion they displayed only further underscores the promising future of sustainable innovation in our community. We were delighted to see finalists from across different UCL faculties and departments compete. Two teams in the final were from the UCL Innovation & Enterprise’s BaseKX Hatchery Incubator in King’s Cross. The Hatchery offers tailored support and advice as well as dedicated office space to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses and fast track their success and get them investment-ready.

Words from previous winners and the team behind the competition 

We were delighted to be joined by last year’s winner of the Audience Choice Award, Phytha Biodesign’s Zainuddin Ansari who in a discussion with Allegra Fortunato shared his experience since winning the competition and how it has helped Phytha Biodesign grow in the last year. Zain shared what it meant to win the competition and how the prize money and support from Tecno to build meaningful relationships with Tecno’s business partners has helped the team develop. The team have since developed a fully functional prototype of our innovative Apia product, ready for real-world testing and deployment, strengthened an ongoing partnership with UCL to install multiple Apia panels across various campus locations and they are collaborating with Westminster Council to install Apia panels in a local park, demonstrating the product’s effectiveness in providing urban bee habitats.

Discussing the event, the event organiser and Entrepreneurship Lead at UCL School of Management Pierre-Jean (PJ) Hanard said, 

“This year’s SustainTech Pitching Competition has not only demonstrated the powerful synergy between innovation and sustainability but has also grown significantly since its pilot, attracting a wealth of top-quality entries from students, alumni and research staff across UCL. This growth reflects our deep commitment within the School of Management to cultivate a culture of responsible entrepreneurship and to forge a community focused on sustainability. I am immensely proud of all our participants for their hard work and dedication. Their efforts shine a light on the potential for business to be a force for good in the world. Looking ahead, we are committed to building on this momentum and expanding our impact on sustainable entrepreneurship in the years to come.”

Learn about the competition and the 2023 winners.

Last updated Monday, 18 March 2024