Wolfson Enterprise Competition open for entries

The Wolfson Enterprise Competition, which successfully launched in 2021, has returned this year – and is currently inviting entries from students and alumni across the University.

Wolfson Enterprise Competition 2022

The competition is an opportunity to design, pitch, and execute start-up ideas in a supportive environment. It invites start-up concepts from teams of two or more people from across the Cambridge community, “whether you’re postgraduate researchers thinking about commercializing and technology transfer, a first-year undergraduate interested in trying your hand at conceiving a business plan, or an alumnus currently involved in a more developed start-up venture.”

The deadline for submissions is Friday 18 March.

£250 prize and investment opportunities on offer

Winning entrants from the first stage will be invited to submit full pitching materials for review by a panel of eight judges. In the final stage, the teams will pitch directly to the panel at an in-person event.

A prize of £250 will be awarded to the winning team to help support the launch of their project, and all teams with promising projects have the potential to meet and explore investment opportunities with interested partners as well as benefit from mentorship.

The judges

The prize was sponsored by Wolfson alumnus, Dr Ronjon Nag, a generous supporter of WES who also joins the judging panel again this year. Dr Nag has invented and deployed artificial intelligence systems for over three decades, co-founded and sold companies to Motorola and Blackberry, and is currently an Interdisciplinary Distinguished Careers Institute Fellow at Stanford University.

Dr Nag is joined on the judging panel by an impressive group of eight highly experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and executives from all over the world, representing a broad range of industries, professional backgrounds, and specialties.

Taking start-up projects to the next level

Thomas Desombre, President of Wolfson Entrepreneur Society (WES), is excited to be able to follow up on what was a successful first competition last year:

“On behalf of WES, we’re very happy that the competition is returning and we appreciate the continued support of the College as well as of the judges and mentors involved.

“We’re happy to be able to host the competition in person in the Lee Hall as well as online this year. The format is largely the same as last year, although we've made a few changes to simplify the submission process for entrants.

“The competition remains open to students and alumni across the University, and we encourage everyone to submit their start-up project or idea for review.”

Last year’s winners

The winners of the first competition, selected after the three-stage process, were Amy Rochford and June Y. Park with their innovative bioelectronics technology.

Amy and June, both from King's College, picked up £1,000 and, more significantly, got to benefit from mentorship organised by WES and its partners. “The prize money is meant to provide a boost,” says Thomas, “but it’s more about exposure, networking, mentorship, and offering a connection to the broader Cambridge start-up ecosystem.

“After the competition, we had a meeting with the winning team and asked them what support they needed. They talked about needing support on IP, for example, and we have mentors who have experience in that field, so we were able to match them up.”

A Society making strides

WES is led by a committee of undergrads and postgrads from varied fields. It was founded in 2019 by David Izuogu, Chemistry PhD student, with help from Wolfson Fellow and alumnus, Michael O'Sullivan CMG, with the aim of increasing the level of support for Wolfson's entrepreneurial students and alumni.

The Society's main activities include inviting guest speakers for online talks and panel discussions, hosting the new Wolfson Enterprise Competition, and providing a platform to facilitate interaction between current students, alumni, mentors, and potential investors.

“WES has hosted several events and interviews this year already,” says Thomas, “including events with Amous Lee, CEO of FM Investment, Norma Chu, CEO of DayDayCook, and our own Ian Chapman-Banks and Carol Yuen, both successful entrepreneurs who are currently students at Wolfson College and members of the WES committee.”

If you’d like to take part in the competition, you can find all the information on the Wolfson Enterprise Competition 2022 webpage.

You can watch the final of the Wolfson Enterprise Competition at the online event on Thursday 28 April. Finalists will present their full pitches to the Judges Panel, as well as to our audience, including mentors, investors, College alumni, and other members of the WES network.