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The Business Pitch - a new Dragon’s Den style competition for business-minded students and alumni of Solent – has reached the final stages.

17th June 2022
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The Business Pitch - a new Dragon’s Den style competition for business-minded students and alumni of Solent – has reached the final stages, where the shortlisted candidates will face a panel of business experts, including Theo Paphitis. 

The winner will receive a £10,000 investment to accelerate their business venture’s success. NatWest is also offering Golden Tickets for the Winner and Runner Up to their new Accelerator in Chandlers Ford. Tickets will be presented by Carey Moore, Regional Director, Corporate & Commercial Banking, Solent. The NatWest Accelerator opens opportunities including one-to-one coaching, a programme of thought leadership and events, access to a network of like-minded peers, and focused support with experts on hand and use of contemporary, co-working space. 

Following a shortlisting panel on 16 May, the six finalists will face a panel of professional experts at Solent University on 29 June.  

The panel members shortlisting the entrants were James Welsh - Managing Director of College But Different, Tanya Aitken - Director of Insight and Development for CMI, Nicky Curtis - Business Adviser, Solent, Kelly King - Enterprise Lead, Solent, Dr Zahida Shah - Senior Lecturer Business Management at Solent University where she champions female entrepreneurship, and Claire Hughes - Head of Undergraduate and Partnerships, Solent Business School. 

Tanya Aitken, Director of Insight & Development, Chartered Management Institute says: “The Business Pitch competition is a fantastic opportunity for Solent University students to showcase their business ideas and receive coaching, expert input and ultimately for the winner, financial help to move their business forward.  I have been extremely impressed with the high quality of entries which demonstrated great innovation, environmental impact, and financial sustainability.   

“It's been a privilege to be part of the judging of such a passionate and dedicated group of budding entrepreneurs - who are all a credit to Solent University. For the winner, this is a chance to really accelerate their business and make an impact on Southampton and the wider community.  I wish all the very worthy finalists the best of luck in the final pitch on the 29 June." 

The finalists only have 10-minutes to 'sell’ their idea to the expert panel, with a 3-minute pitch, followed by a Q&A session from the panel. Finalists are also getting support and mentoring ahead of the final. 

The professional panel will consist of Theo Paphitis, Chancellor of Solent University and successful business leader who also helped launch the competition; Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC who is keen to promote the social and sustainable benefits of enterprise; Lakbir Singh, Head of Group Operations Planet Education, a local Entrepreneur with a global reach; and Hampshire Chamber EDI lead, Hannah Ngakane, Strategic Partnership Manager for Pinterest recently named on Forbes 30 under 30 list and Solent alumna. 

Two of the six finalists are current students, four are Solent alumni, from a diverse range of courses including: BSc (Hons) Fitness and Personal Training, BA (Hons) Film Production, TV and Video Production, BA (Hons) Computer Generated Imagery / MSc (Hons) Applied AI and Data Science and BEng (Hons) Audio and Acoustic Engineering.    

The ideas are diverse and range across industries such as education, maritime, retail, hospitality, and events and include AI, apps and innovative solutions. 

This investment opportunity is part of the key activity the University carries out in supporting student success and levelling up through successful enterprise and sustainable business growth. Caroline Walsh, Director of Solent Business School, says: “Solent University Southampton like our students and alumni is aspirational and ambitious. Irrespective of what our students study they want to make a positive difference to our world.  Innovative, entrepreneurial in spirit with the grit to succeed Solent University ensures students are work ready, world ready and future ready so wherever they go and whatever they do next, our graduates will make waves for the right reasons!” 

When submitting their business pitch, candidates are asked to reflect on the positive effect they will have - the environmental, economic, and social sustainability impact of their business for the wider global and UK Economy, the city of Southampton and Central South region. The competition to win £10,000 was open to individuals and groups, where at least one member is a Solent University student or alumni who graduated after 2015.