Pitching for Prizes: Oxford Foundry ventures win £25K grant

Five teams with their eyes on the prize

On the evening of June 25th, the Oxford Foundry hosted its very first accelerator pitching contest, where five teams from the OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator competed to win the grand prize of £20k of funding for their venture. The prize, which was won by energy tech venture Metronome Energy, was a generous joint-award from Fujitsu UK and CAE Technology Services, whose senior team were also part of the judging panel for the event. An additional award of £5k was made to medtech venture enRecover.

All the teams are currently half way through their time on the Oxford Foundry’s L.E.V8 accelerator programme. Each took their turn to deliver a five minute pitch in front of the judges and a room full of supporters, students and University of Oxford staff and faculty.

Spanning sectors such as medical technology, education, healthcare and energy, each venture is at a crucial stage in their business, where the £20k award will make a great difference to how they can develop, scale and advance their business.

After the pitches, all teams were invited up on stage to take questions from the panel of judges, which was comprised of Ash Merchant and Katie Rogerson of Fujitsu UK, and Justin Harling and Neeta Gadhia of CAE Technology Services. The questions ranged from the practical to the financial and technical, and the teams handled them all with humour and aplomb. The judges then convened to make their decision, while the teams and guests networked while enjoying drinks and sushi, courtesy of the Foundry.

The five teams who pitched at the event were:

EnRecover – a physiotherapist on your phone, making the surgical and post-surgery journey easier for patients.

Metronome – an energy technology company, helping industrial clients create flexibility from their power-consuming assets, creating additional revenue for them.

Pod Health – provides patients with convenient access to tech-driven healthcare, focusing on diagnostics.

Scoodle – connecting students with tutors for specific, expert answers and further tuition.

BreatheOx – a home monitoring system to predict and prevent asthma attacks.

When the time came to announce the winners, the judges made it clear that they’d had a tough job and were seriously impressed with all the ventures and the pitches they’d seen. They concluded that the overall prize of £20k should be awarded to Seth Collins and Josh Burton of Metronome. However, the judges were also in agreement that an extra award should go to Dr Nav Nagra of enRecover, whose business was deemed to have such strong potential benefit to so many.

The winners

Metronome team with the judges

The £20k winners, Metronome, with the judges

enRecover founder Nav Nagra with judges

The judges with additional awardee, enRecover's Dr Nav Nagra

"This signifies a transformative investment in our start-up"

Dr Nav Nagra of enRecover was delighted to receive a bonus award of £5k from CAE Technology Solutions, with the offer of direct technical guidance and support on product development from Fujitsu’s AI team in London. As he said:

“We are so grateful to CAE and Fujitsu UK for their generosity – this signifies a transformative investment in our start-up. We’re delighted that both firms share the vision of 'improved access and equality of healthcare', that our company has at its core, and that they believe we can help to deliver on this. We’re also really excited to see what we can achieve with the award and partnerships moving forward, to really change the healthcare landscape for the better.”

Ash Merchant, Fujitsu UK’s Education Director, commented:
“It was truly an honour to be part of the inaugural OXFO L.E.V8 Accelerator awards. The passion and drive of these young entrepreneurs was truly amazing to see, and the progress each and every one of them had made in developing their business from concept through to startup gives me great confidence in the future of UK PLC.  Initiatives such as OXFO L.E.V8 will help speed up innovation, generate new businesses and close the skills gap. Collaboration and support from wider industry to really support the development of projects like these should be on every company's social responsibility agenda”

Justin Harling, CEO of CAE Technology Services, agreed:
“The OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator awards was a showcase of what great emerging talent there is in the UK. Though innovation and technology form a critical part of all our futures it’s the people that make the difference. The scientists, the engineers, the coders and the lateral thinkers, they are people that drive new ideas and new opportunities with energy and dynamism. It is right that industry nurtures new and exciting talent and works alongside the leaders of tomorrow during the critical start-up phase. In this way the UK can enhance its position as a true global leader in emerging and disruptive technologies. It was a pleasure, and illuminating, to be involved and CAE is looking forward to partnering with these inspiring innovators at The Foundry into the future."

The Foundry’s Director, Ana Bakshi, added:
“We are truly grateful to both CAE and Fujitsu UK for partnering with us for this event, and for providing these generous awards.  Support of this kind from corporate partners is pivotal to early stage ventures: for Metronome, it means that they’ll be able to mass sell their unique product in a far shorter time frame than initially expected, and for enRecover it will enable a faster route to developing a strong product prototype, so it’s a true catalyst for both awardees and their respective journeys.”

The evening concluded with drinks and networking, and some good discussions between the pitching teams and guests.

This coming September, the current cohort of L.E.V8 start-ups will be pitching to a room full of potential investors at the University’s first ever accelerator Demo Day, and the evening definitely provided valuable practice for all the teams that participated, to get them ready for this major event in the autumn.