£5k-a Business Winners

Technology & Clean Tech



Lighting consumes 20% of the world’s electricity. White LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are much more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs (~10 times) and fluorescent lights (~3 times). But, currently they are still too expensive! A 6W LED bulb (equivalent to a normal 60W incandescent bulb) costs ~$30. We are a research group based at the University of Coventry and we can make white LEDs 2~5 times cheaper than their forecasted price, which would lead to a revolution of the world’s lighting. The amount of energy we would save is tremendous, and so is our market!


Drug discovery relies on High Throughput Screening (HTS) of large numbers of reagents. This is currently done with expensive liquid handling robots, using micro-litres of expensive reagents. Assays in microfluidic microdroplets require volumes in the range of pico- to nano-litres (over 1,000 times less reagent), but the current systems only allow for one sample, or at best a random mix of samples, to be tested at a given time. DropTech bridges the microfluidic and drug screening markets with a robotic sampler for continuous screening of multiple samples in microfluidic systems and a drug screening platform.


Industry observers estimate the current microreactor market to be worth approximately $100m globally. The market is being driven by the push for pharmaceutical and fine chemical producers to move to more efficient continuous processing methods already adopted by bulk chemical producers. Until now their smaller scale production has restricted the use of continuous processing but innovative microreactor technology can provide the answer. MicroDisk intends to utilise a patented extrusion process for forming micro-capillary films to make plastic microreactors. The advantages over current glass or metal-alloy microreactors are more than 40% lower costs and ease of scale-up to industrial capacities.


Ultrafast lasers (annual sales $260m in 2008) are important for a wide range of scientific and industrial applications. The key component to enable ultrashort pulses is a saturable absorber(SA). However, conventional SAs are based on expensive and complex fabrication procedures and suffer serious limitations in their spectral performance. Dr Wang and his team have developed an innovative approach based on a novel nanomaterial (carbon nanotube). This patent-protected technology overcomes the drawbacks of traditional SA technologies and has a great potential to enable a new generation of low-cost and versatile ultrafast lasers for scientific and industrial applications.


Patients who suffer from inner ear disorders could feel so dizzy that they are effectively bedridden. And it affects a surprisingly large population: 35% of all adults aged 40 and above have inner ear balance disorders. However, existing diagnostic technologies are inadequate, and patients often have to undergo multiple lengthy, expensive tests, which often fail to find the underlying cause of their dizziness. We have a diagnostic device that targets a $1.68 billion market. It is cheap, compact, and accurate, which will support clinicians and patients in optimizing diagnosis and management of inner ear disorders, saving human lives and money. 

Social Enterprise


African Innovation Prize

Business plan competitions encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Competitions allow students to test out ideas in a safe environment supported by mentors, coaches and spurred by the incentive of seed funding. This valuable opportunity should be opened to students/budding entrepreneurs everywhere including sub-Saharan Africa. In partnership with three universities in Eastern Africa, the African Innovation Prize (AIP) aims to help establish and run a first-rate student business plan competition for African students. AIP is rooted in the belief that grassroots entrepreneurship is a key driver in poverty alleviation and wealth creation. This iterative business plan competition will also help fuel entrepreneurial fire in the universitys ecosystem and inspire long-term creative and applied thinking.

Enzima Pharmaceuticals

Enzima Pharmaceuticals is a for-profit social enterprise intent on transforming disease therapy and business. We plan to offer cost-effective small-molecule drug treatment for West Nile, Dengue, and Yellow fever— developing world diseases with limited Western interest. Our competitive advantage comes from our proprietary screening platform, which can optimize a novel drug candidate for all three diseases, while limiting the possibility of drug resistance. Our social-enterprise model, in turn, offers subsidized and streamlined drug therapy for afflicted patients in the developing world. Enzima thus offers a sustainable business practice that serves both patient and investor interests to significant returns on investment.


Many Indigenous Australians lack access to clean water, a problem they share with over 1 billion people in the world. Naiad regards addressing this need as not only a commercial opportunity, but a moral imperative. We offer a cheap, simple and effective filtration system that can remove a wide variety of contaminants from water. We propose to sell these systems into profitable market segments, using these profits to support our social enterprise. Our social enterprise uses a micro-franchising model in which members of Indigenous communities are licensed to sell our filtration units, thus Naiad’s filters ultimately deliver not only clean water, but also community empowerment and poverty alleviation.

People vs Malaria

People vs Malaria is a not for profit drug discovery organization using novel pharmacological approaches to develop breakthrough therapeutics against Malaria. The novel approaches not only focus on the treatment of disease and prophylactic care, but also stop the parasite life cycle in the mosquito. The three pronged attack against the parasite offers potential for a strong step forward in the eradication of the disease. With the help of a strong board of advisors and strategic distribution partnerships, People vs. Malaria is hoping to make a significant contribution in the developing world for years to come.

Software & Web



Choosing which book to buy is an increasingly difficult task, with over 100,000 new titles published every year in the UK. Book reviews are widely available and can be informative, however they don’t provide a way of finding books similar to ones you have already read and enjoyed. It’s not surprising that most book purchases are based on recommendations from friends. BookWhack is a website that provides a visual map of people’s related book recommendations, transcending genre, author and purchase history. BookWhack brings together reader’s opinions to create suggestions, replacing computer best guesses to find the best book for you.


English learners often make different grammatical errors than native speakers, commonly known as English as Second Language (ESL) errors. As of today, no existing language tools systematically addresses and properly handles such errors. Gamma, Grammar without R (Recheck), is a proofreading and grammar tuition solution specifically targeting English learners. Gamma is lightweight, fast and suitable for a wide range of applications. It is the ideal language tool for daily word processing. More importantly, Gamma can customize tuitions based on individuals' error pattern analyses, thus providing an innovative way for English learners to improve grammar and writing skills effectively.


Rapportive is simple social relationship management built right into your email. Businesses increasingly compete on establishing rapport:

• Business development need to track what customers, partners and investors are thinking

• Sales need to know job titles, company details and interests of their leads

• Marketing need to target consumers with personalised communications

• Customer support need to make people feel special.

But right now, it’s too hard to build and maintain these relationships. You have to switch between many applications, enter data multiple times and manually monitor the social web. We're building Rapportive to make excellent service scale.

Special Mention - Consumer Product Budget Winner



How would you feel if for the first time in your life you were given the opportunity to afford using electricity? SolarStar can light up the lives of 1.6 billion people who currently live without electricity in the developing countries. A low cost use of concentrated solar power will be made possible by using new technology and by scaling solar power generators to required needs. Electricity will therefore be made accessible to people in their household, but also at work, in schools and hospitals. This project will impact the daily lives of individuals and communities throughout the developing countries.