Welcome to the

Venture Catalyst Challenge 2023

Grand Final


It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Grand Final of the Venture Catalyst Challenge 2023, Imperial College’s flagship innovation and entrepreneurship competition. 

This has been another fiercely competitive year with a cohort of 25 teams, working across the following five industry specific tracks:   

AI & Robotics - sponsored by I-X 
Creative & Consumer - sponsored by Imperial College London 
Digital & Finance - sponsored by Santander Universities 
Energy & Environment - sponsored by Undaunted 
Health & Wellbeing – sponsored by Novartis 

The winners of each track will be presenting their ideas at tonight’s Grand Final event.  

I’m also very pleased to welcome Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, Co-Founder of Notpla to the Grand Final as tonight’s keynote speaker. Notpla took part in VCC in 2012 and have since gone on to be one of the Enterprise Lab’s great success stories, most recently being named one of the winners of the Earthshot Prize, the first team from the UK to do so.  

Underpinning all of this has been the generous support of our industry partners and sponsors, and I would like to personally thank I-X, Novartis, Santander Universities and Undaunted for their time and contribution in making this year’s VCC happen.  

This year’s programme was also made possible through philanthropy and I would like to thank our donors for their generosity.   

In addition, I would also like to thank the members of the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS) and other volunteers from across Industry for contributing to the Track Heats judging panels and helping to select our finalists.    

If you’re watching tonight’s pitches and are feeling inspired to help support the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs from Imperial College London that are working to change the world, tonight is the perfect chance to get involved.

I’m happy to discuss upcoming partnership, collaboration or sponsorship opportunities with the Enterprise Lab. Please contact me via email () if you’re interested in helping the future innovators of the Imperial College London.

Now, on the with the show! 

Ben Mumby-Croft

Sarah Ranchev-Hale
Head of Imperial Enterprise Lab
[email protected]

The Prizes

Each of the Finalists have already secured £10,000 for winning their track, but tonight they will be pitching to be named Grand Final Winner with a prize of £20,000. We will also be announcing the winners of the two Moonshot and two Social Impact Prizes which can be awarded to any of the 20 teams not taking part in the Grand Final. 

Grand Final Winner

The winner of each track pitches at the Grand Final to be named overall winner of the Venture Catalyst Challenge.

Moonshot Prize
£10,000 and £5,000

Awarded to the teams that set out to challenge the norm, break boundaries and push innovation to the limit.

Social Impact Prize
£10,000 and £5,000

Awarded to the teams whose work is inspired by a desire to have a positive impact on society.

The finalists

The five teams below are the winners of each of the five Venture Catalyst Challenge tracks and were each awarded £10,000 at the track heats. Now they are going head-to-head for the Grand Final Prize of £20,000.

Wateraware Collective  
AI & Robotics Track Winner
Our modular sensing unit uses low cost sensors & machine learning algorithms providing accurate and uninterrupted data on pollutant levels, improving safety for people and the environment. Water hobbyists can attach our units to dry bags, kayaks, and paddleboards, providing valuable data passively collected at no cost to us.

Creative & Consumer Track Winner 
PulpaTronics develops sustainable alternatives to existing RFID tags by minimising the amount of resources required, simplifying the manufacturing process and streamlining recycling. Our tags are paper-based, making them compatible with current recycling practices and significantly reducing their price as well.

Digital & Finance Track Winner
Claimed leverages the latest advances in generative AI to unlock the productivity potential of patent attorneys. The Claimed toolkit will enable attorneys to accelerate the patent drafting process and identify strategies for prosecuting office actions faster.

Energy & Environment Track Winner
Our wave energy converters copy the stargazer fish, using a patented installation method to embed flexible structures under the seabed. By doing this, we are more reliable as we are sheltered from storms, and also can drastically reduce costs, as large metallic support structures are replaced by the seabed itself.

Health & Wellbeing Track Winner 
We have developed the world’s first size adjustable prosthetic cover. A novel extension mechanism is hidden within the body of the prosthetic cover and allows extension in multiple stages so that amputees can fit their cover to a limb of any length. Child users find that their prosthetic cover now grows with them and adult users are no longer required to submit complicated measurements – ours fits right off the shelf.

The Judges

Insiya Jafferjee

CEO, Shellworks

Read Bio

Insiya Jafferjee is the CEO of Shellworks, a leading biotech startup building a world where sustainable products can be created without compromise. In reimagining nature’s packaging, they have harnessed naturally occurring microbes and developed their patent-pending material, Vivomer, which can degrade in any natural environment. Originally from Sri Lanka, Insiya holds a B.Sc in Product Design from Stanford University and an M.A and Msc. from Royal College of Art and Imperial College. She spent her early career working at the intersection of cutting-edge research, design, and engineering at corporations like Bose, Ford Motor Company and Apple. Before moving to London to use her profound insights to create a company that intends to make plastic waste a thing of the past.

Prof Francisco Veloso

Dean of Imperial College Business School

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Francisco Veloso is the Dean of Imperial College Business School and a member of the main governing boards of the University. Previously, he was the Dean at Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics, where he held the NOS Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Francisco also retains an adjunct appointment at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a tenured Full Professor.

Francisco´s research focuses on high tech innovation and entrepreneurship. He has several dozen publications in leading academic journals and has won several awards for his academic work. He regularly contributes as a consultant and advisor to of start-ups, established firms, universities and government around the world.  

He is currently a Non-Executive Board Member at Arica Holding b.v., a member of the Board Remunerations Committee for Caixa Geral de Depósitos and the Chair of the Supervisory Board of Indico Capital Partners. Francisco has been a member of RISE – Research, Innovation and Science Experts High-Level Advisory Body to European Commissioner Carlos Moedas. He was also a member of the Portuguese Government Councils for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, as well as Science and Technology. He is a former President of the Advisory Board of APBA, the Portuguese Business Angels Society.

Francisco has a PhD in Technology, Management and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as an MSc in Economics and Management of Science & Technology, and an Undergraduate Degree in Physics Engineering, both from the University of Lisbon.

Sara Murray, OBE

Founder and CEO, Buddi

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Sara started her first business at the age of 22 – Ninah Consulting, a marketing consultancy advising multi-national corporates on their marketing effectiveness. It has been adopted by some of the world’s largest consumer brands, beginning with SmithKline Beecham and later including HBOS, Diageo, the AA, CGNU, Comet and Coca-Cola Schweppes. In 1999, Sara founded inspop.com, an online insurance marketplace. Having built the customer base to 250,000, she sold the company to the Admiral Group 18 months later, who renamed it confused.com.

Sara is the founder and CEO of Buddi – an idea that came to her when her young daughter Rowena temporarily disappeared at a supermarket. She wanted to create a way to give both her and her daughter peace of mind, and after two years of research and development in GPS technology – Buddi – an innovation in personal safety, became a reality in 2007. Today, Buddi leads the field in assistive technology and its main focus now is to help the elderly and those with Alzheimer’s remain independent for longer and to give carers and families peace of mind. In 2020 Buddi was selected to support NHSX (the joint unit of Department of Health & Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement created to drive the digital transition of care) against Covid19.

She has also pioneered Tracker – a secure monitoring service in the mental health arena – which is being used by some of the largest NHS Trusts, police forces, private companies and individuals.

As a result of Sara’s work in the technology arena, she was made a member of the British Government’s Technology Strategy Board, which supports the exploitation of science, technology and innovation to benefit business, increase economic growth and improve the quality of life in the UK. She was also appointed to the Government’s Small Business Economic Forum, which has been established to provide small business leaders with a direct link to Ministers, to discuss Government economic policy relevant to enterprise and small business.  She was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to entrepreneurship and innovation.  Sara has also been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Orange National Business Awards. She was also the winner of Europe’s Allstar CEO Award 2019.

Sara is a founding board member of Seedcamp, an organisation to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in the UK and Europe.


The host

Reya El-Salahi

Presenter, Reporter, and Broadcast Journalist

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Reya El-Salahi is an award-winning presenter, reporter and broadcast journalist. She has presented TV and radio programmes and made documentaries for the BBC, Times Radio, CGTN Europe, and This American Life among others.

The keynote

Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez

Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Notpla

Read Bio

Rodrigo is an inventor, designer, architect and engineer. He has a Master of Architecture with Honours from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, as well as postgraduate qualifications from the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (India), Industrial Design at Pontificia Universidad Católica (Chile), the Umeå Institute of Design, Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. Prior to Ooho he invented and developed different patents on structural and deployable systems, following suitcases, and other products. 


As a lecturer, he has collaborated with different institutions such as Cornell University (USA), CEPT (India) and Kingston University(UK). He won the Gold Medal in the 2nd Improvisation World Championship celebrated in 2009 Santiago de Chile, has been awarded with the National Dyson Design Award, the British-Spanish Society-Telefonica Award, and has won the GAUDI European Competition on Sustainable Architecture three times.


In addition to that, as Co-CEO and cofounder of Notpla, he won the Prince William’s £1,000,000 Earthshot Prize in 2022.

The sponsors



I-X is an ambitious new research initiative at Imperial College London, established to bring new focus to interdisciplinary AI reseach. The goal is to bring together AI experts from across the College to tackle major research challenges in areas such as health, sustainability, and security, and to create new opportunities for deeper collaboration with companies and entrepreneurs.


Santander University


Santander Universities is the leading global supporter of higher education. We believe that universities are the cornerstone of modern civilisation, nurturing and producing the innovators, creatives and leaders of tomorrow.Through the Universities programme we’re building on Santander UK’s purpose to help people and businesses prosper by providing funding and resources to help students and graduates start, run or scale a business.


Undaunted Company Logo


Undaunted is community of creative, proactive people, working together to explore how innovation can help us to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, in sustainable and equitable ways. From early-stage startups, investors, and industry experts, to academics, policy makers, students, and journalists – the community is diverse because the climate is everyone’s business. Undaunted is a partnership between The Royal Institution and Imperial’s Grantham Institute. In the face of climate change, we are Undaunted.


Novartis logo coloured


At Novartis, our purpose is to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. We use innovative science and digital technologies to address some of society’s most challenging healthcare issues. We discover and develop breakthrough treatments and find new ways to deliver them to as many people as possible.