Engineers in Business Competition – Champion of Champions Final 2021
On 22 October 2021 we hosted our third Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Final, broadcast live from the stunning Shard in London. Ten university teams comprising engineering graduates and postgraduates pitched a stunning array of business innovations for the chance of winning a share of £15,000 prize money, mentoring from Sainsbury Management Fellows and prizes from our sponsors, Purple CV and Cambridge University Press.
The thrilling Awards Presentation was hosted by Engineer and TV Presenter Rob Bell, who guided contestants through the spotlight of the live online show. Opening the show Rob said, “Being an engineer isn’t just a profession or a discipline, it’s more a way of life. It’s an analytical, solution-focused outlook that tends to get applied to almost all aspects of the world around us.” The ten finalists demonstrated this point perfectly with their innovations.
The finalists competed in two categories – Big Ideas and Start-up. The Startup prizes were awarded to those who are more advanced with their innovations and want to take them to the next level. The Big Ideas prizes were awarded to winners whose ideas are at an earlier, conceptual or research stage.
This year, there was also the chance to win the £5,000 Enterprise Award, sponsored by Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMFs) Dame Anne Richards and Matthew Richards. This was awarded to the team that the judges felt had the most commercial potential.
Each finalist had just three minutes to pitch their ideas and then had to answer searching questions from the distinguished judging panel (see details at the end). After a nail-biting wait for the results, the winners were revealed.
The Enterprise Award of £5,000 was won by Imperial College London’s team, Paige. Paige is the world’s first low-cost, multi-line braille display that will allow people with sight impairment to read more than one line at a time. This will open up access to learning, especially for more complex subjects such as STEM.
Start-up Business – First Prize of £3,000 went to Nottingham Trent University’s ChangeXtra which will transform care for women in peri and full menopause. Claire Mann, the innovator, of ChangeXtra will also benefit from having a Sainsbury Management Fellow as a mentor to help her take her innovation forward.
Start-up Business – Runner-up of £1,500 was awarded to the University of Exeter’s Zama Digital. Innovator James Tetlow has created a novel machine monitoring solution that will transform manufacturing efficiency.
Big Ideas – First Prize of £3,000 went to the University of Sheffield’s Cycle2Vehicles (C2V) for the concept of an AI-powered camera system to prevent cycle and vehicle collisions at road junctions. As first prize winners, C2V will also receive a Sainsbury Management Fellow as a mentor.
Big Ideas – Runner-up & People’s Vote: Nottingham University – GOAB BioEngineers. With a prize fund of £1,500, innovators, Ebenezer Owusu and Philemon Gyasi-Antwi will be developing their eco-composite boards made from recycled plastics, a cheaper, environmentally friendly alternative for joinery. The GOAB BioEngineer team also won the pre-show People’s Vote award of £500, having secured the most votes in our website vote which ran for several weeks ahead of the Awards Presentation night.
Audience Vote: This award of £500 went to Aberystwyth University entrant Revolancer. Innovator, Karl Swanepoel was a runaway winner on the night, capturing the hearts and minds of the public watching the live online show. Revolancer is set to revolutionise the way businesses hire freelancers online.
The Winning Innovations
Enterprise Award - £5,000
Start-up Business Winner - £3,000
Big Ideas Winner - £3,000
Start-up Business Runner-up - £1,500
Big Ideas Runner-up – £1,500 & People's Vote - £500
Audience Vote - £500
What the judges said
Head Judge, SMF Serge Taborin who is responsible for Government Digital Transformation at Amazon Web Services said: “The finalists were absolutely brilliant. They only had three minutes to pitch but they were thoroughly prepared and communicated their ideas with clarity and passion. Every one of the teams should feel proud of themselves. “Selecting the winners was exceptionally difficult and it was a close call. All the finalists should remember that by making it to the final, they are all winners, and their products clearly have potential. This is just one of many stepping-stones to delivering their innovations. They should think big but focus on detail. However good they are, products never sell themselves and delighting customers requires real attention on countless little details that simplify the process of finding, buying and using your product. This is the key to achieving broad adoption.” Congratulations to all our Engineers in Business Champion of Champions 2021 winners! We wish you well as you go on to develop your ideas. A huge round of applause to all finalists who participated in the competition with such passion and commitment.
SMF Serge Taborin, Government Digital Transformation, Amazon Web Services
Dr Jeroen Bergmann, Associate Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Ana Avaliani, Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development, Royal Academy of Engineering
SMF Dr Andy Phillipps, Entrepreneur and early-stage tech investor and venture partner
Our sincere thanks and appreciation to our prize sponsors: Purple CV is providing personal CV packages to all participants in each winning team and CUP (Cambridge University Press) is providing the publication Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship to each winning team.