Venture Catalyst Challenge 2023


The Venture Catalyst Challenge is Imperial College London’s flagship entrepreneurial competition. Now in its 10th year, we are excited to be celebrating a “A Decade of Innovation” in 2023.

Follow the progress of the special 10th Anniversary Edition here.

Countdown to the Grand Final, 10th May 2023:








Celebrating a Decade of Innovation

Welcome to the University Startup Competition of The Decade. Three Months. Five Tracks. ÂŁ100,000.

The Venture Catalyst Challenge is an “elite” programme which enables students and alumni to develop an innovative idea for commercialisation. It takes the very best early stage ideas and gives them the exposure and acceleration they need to leave Imperial College’s eco-system and move successfully into the wider entrepreneurship world.

Over its ten year history, the VCC has demonstrated an impressive ability to identify and nurture promising founders and ventures. This year we’re delighted to welcome 25 team finalists selected from 235 entries.

Previous participants have gone on to raise over ÂŁ200 million in funding and create over 750 jobs. Notable success stories include VCC alumni startup Notpla, who won the coveted Earthshot Prize for Building a Waste-Free World.

Part of the programme’s success lies in its rigorous initial scoring and selection process. Competition entries are assessed for their ability to clearly articulate the business need, what impact the start-up will have, the co-founders’ motivations for joining programme, and why their team is best placed to deliver. The highest performing submissions are reviewed by Imperial College’s IP department before being shortlisted by the Selection Committee and assigned on to the most appropriate track.

Meet This Year’s Teams Competing in Each Track to Win a Prize

This year we’re delighted to welcome 89 innovators working on diverse projects including the world’s first size adjustable prosthetic cover, a novel aerodynamic design that makes supersonic aviation and space travel cheaper and cleaner, and sustainable wave energy converters that preserve the natural beauty of the ocean. 

The winning teams from each track will pitch their ideas to industry-leading judges at the Grand Final. The overall winner will receive a total prize of £30,000.

Read the teams’ profiles in more detail, learn about their business ideas and meet our ambitious founders here.

The VCC Experience

 Follow Our Innovators

Come along with us on the VCC journey! We’ll be capturing key moments as the programme unfolds and hearing from this year’s innovators as they progress through the competition towards the Track Heats and Grand Final.

Next VCC Milestone: Track Heats

25-26th April 2023

ach Track has a Heat where competing teams pitch to a panel of judges. Think of these as our programme semi-finals. 5 Track winners will each be awarded £10,000 and proceed to take part in the VCC Grand Final. 

Which teams will make it through?
Stay tuned to be the first to know! 


Be Inspired

Watch Last Year’s Grand Final

We were delighted to welcome over 300 attendees to the 2022 Grand Final in the Great Hall on Imperial’s South Kensington campus. Guests gathered to hear our five track winners’ pitches and awaited the judges’ verdict on the coveted overall winner, as well as the Moonshot and Social Impact prize winner announcements. Which top teams took home the prizes? Watch the final in full to find out.

Meet The Experts

The 2023 Judging Panel

Insiya Jafferjee


Shellworks (VCC 2020 Grand Final Winner)

Insiya Jafferjee is a VCC Alumni and CEO of Shellworks, a leading biotech startup building a world where sustainable products can be created without compromise.

In reimagining nature’s packaging, Shellworks has 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 BSc in Product Design from Stanford University and an MA 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 including Bose, Ford Motor Company and Apple. Now based in London, Insiya is using her profound insights to build a company that intends to make plastic waste a thing of the past.

Sara Murray OBE

Entrepreneur & Buddi

Sara Murray is the founder of the financial comparison site, which she sold to Admiral. She has gone on to create Buddi, a personal tracking device for the elderly and vulnerable.

Sara’s maxim is that entrepreneurs must always be prepared to adapt and that “You have to want to grow a business, not make a fast buck.”

Sara is also a member of the Government’s Technology Strategy Board and Entrepreneurs’ Forum, a council member at Imperial College London, and holds non-exec roles with the online retailer and the construction firm Travis Perkins.

Look Ahead

The Next Decade
Of Innovation


“The most powerful tool is imagination – the ability and willingness to imagine alternatives to realities as we know it, which is the first step towards making new realities possible.”
– Ursula K. Le Gin, Author

How will our next decade play out scientifically, economically, environmentally and politically?  What challenges, opportunities and industry upheavals will we see? Who will be the winners of tomorrow?

Read thought-provoking predictions from innovators, experts and entrepreneurs in each of our five track areas.

AI & Robotics:

Flying cars are finally on their way. The global urban air utility market, which includes Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicle (“eVTOL”) aircraft, has the potential to reach nearly $30 billion by 2030.
– Peter Diamandis

Creative & Consumer:

Inside physical stores, you will find full suites of interactive technology, enabling unimaginable levels of personalization that effectively blur the boundary between digital and physical shopping. eCommerce will have become integrated into every facet of consumers’ online lives – from Netflix to video games, virtual worlds, and, of course, social media.

– Syte

Digital & Finance:

The Web as I envisaged it, we still have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.

The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.

– Tim Berners-Lee

Energy & Environment:

Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all.  It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.

– Ban Ki-moon

Health & Wellbeing:

Connected medical devices have helped close the loop between patients and healthcare providers. MedTech companies have a crucial role in driving value based healthcare, helping reduce medical costs, optimise surgical performance and improve patient outcomes.

– Deloitte

Join Our Debate!

The Next Decade
Of Innovation


We are all forecasters, making daily decisions based on how we expect the future will unfold. These expectations are forecasts, and they affect the course of our lives.

But looking beyond our personal sphere to speculate about the future on a national or global scale is difficult, and that’s where collaboration comes in! How different will the world be in 2033? Join our conversation on what the next decade will bring. Let’s benefit from each other’s knowledge and diverse perspectives to help prepare for the future.

What's Your Prediction?

Send us your thoughts on the next decade and we’ll publish as many of them as possible on this page and in our E-Lab newsletter.

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us


“We will be online all the time in augmented reality.”

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

“Domestic flights will travel out of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

“The boundaries between machine and human will be blurred.”

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

“NASA partners with private companies to land the first human on Mars.”

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

Injectable brain implants allow scientists to alter neurons to treat disorders and brain damage.”

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

Telepathic communication becomes possible with the help of computers.

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

“Wearable devices replace smartphones.

The World in 2033: Speculate With Us

Consumers will understand the data-sharing practices of devices they install through visualisations rather than Terms and Conditions.

With thanks to Imperial Tech Foresight for contributing to our future scenarios.

With Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

A huge thank you to our supporters for their valuable contribution to the Venture Catalyst Challenge.

The VCC is the largest prize fund of any UK-based university, only made possible through the financial support of our sponsors. Thanks to their generosity and commitment to backing the next generation of innovators, we are empowering participants with vital skills, exposure and acceleration to thrive beyond Imperial College in the wider commercial world. 

Ben Mumby-Croft

Director of Entrepreneurship

Health & Wellbeing Track Sponsor
Novartis logo coloured

Digital & Finance Track Sponsor

Energy & Environment Track Sponsor

Undaunted Company Logo

AI & Robotics Track Sponsor

Creative & Consumer Track Sponsor

Attend The 2023 Grand Final


Watch Live. Attend in Person on 10th May.

Celebrate a Decade of Innovation With Us. Secure Your Place to The VCC Grand Final Here.


Can't Be There? Attend Virtually.

Secure Your Place. Get Your Ticket!

Don’t miss out! If you can’t make the Grand Final in person, but would still like to experience the action, let us know!

Please submit your details, and we’ll email you a link to view the final online nearer the time.

What's on

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How To Build a Financial Model
How To Build a Financial Model

Event dateMarch 29, 2023

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How To Pitch Your Idea
How To Pitch Your Idea

Event dateApril 28, 2023

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