NEC date for hopeful new businesses

Entrepreneurs to pitch for £3.95 million investment and cash prizes.

A unique pitching competition, where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to increase their profile in front of a national audience of investors, has announced its finalists. The finalists and their business ideas will compete to win the Best Pitch Award, potential future investment and £2,000 in cash prizes at Pitchfest WM 2017.

This year Aceleron, Advanced Epi, Essentially Yours, Limitless Travel, OmAwake, Overground, Snaptivity,, Zento, will meet in the Pitchfest final being hosted at Venturefest West Midlands on June 27th at the NEC.

Competitors will be presenting their pitches during heats and ultimately a final, judged by twelve leading national investors across the day. Panelists include CEO of the UK Business Angel Association, Jenny Tooth, who has 20 years’ experience of facilitating SMEs access to investment, and Director, Investments at British Business Bank, Robert Cawdron who will be judging the Best Pitch 2017 winner.

Jointly organised by Aston University, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, in association with Venturefest West Midlands, a series of workshops and investor selection panels were held over three months to help businesses develop their pitch before the Pitchfest final.

The final will take place during Venturefest West Midlands; a free, one-day event aimed at supporting business growth through innovation. It will bring together up to 1,000 entrepreneurs, innovators and investors with specific innovation expertise. The event will also see over 30 companies exhibiting to showcase the support and services on offer in the region for new and growing businesses. Alongside them will also be over 25 high growth, high innovation exhibiting companies.

2016 finalist, Karl Drage, CEO of Smart Renewable Heat – a leading designer and installer of turn-key, energy efficient renewable heat systems – had a huge influx of investment after taking part in the competition. “The Pitchfest experience was useful and enjoyable. The process helped me sharpen my pitch, and prepared me for many similar pitches to investors. We did get interest from potential investors.

“We did a lot of work towards our funding round, so it wasn’t the only contributing factor, but it certainly helped. Pitchfest helped towards our successful funding round of £150,000 SEIS funding. It also introduced us to Climate-KIC, with who we went on to win £20,000 in a regional competition, and also the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses growth programme, which we have just completed.”

David Coleman, head of enterprise acceleration at the University of Birmingham works directly with small businesses in the region. He added: “Although the West Midlands is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, the lion’s share of investment still goes to London and the South East. The Pitchfest platform is a great tool for redressing that balance. By bringing investors directly into our selection process, we are enabling companies to both improve their investment prospects, and to network with potential funding sources.

Pitchfest has been sponsored this year by Innovation Birmingham, Warwick Science Park, Birmingham Research Park and international law firm Gowlings WLG.

David Brennan, co-head of the technology team at Gowling, said: “It’s great to be part of an event which brings a national audience of investors to the West Midlands, whilst supporting pioneering start-ups from across various sectors. This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the brimming talent across the region and strengthen the economic position of the area. I look forward to seeing ideas that can work on a global level, putting the UK – particularly the West Midlands – on the map as an innovation hub.”