Alumni News, Business Sector, Events

Two UCL EDUCATE programme participants took the runner-up spots in the British semi-finals of the GESAwards 2019.

Nature Bytes, which was part of cohort 8 and Ketka, from cohort 10, were among 12 of the top EdTech companies in the UK competing for a place in the global competition taking place in London, in January.

The semi-final was hosted by UCL EDUCATE and is one of 16 international events taking place this autumn to choose the finalists.

The winner was Blackbullion, a learning platform for students to develop skills in personal finance. Vivi Friedgut, the founder and CEO, said she was “amazed” at the result. “I did not expect this – I am so happy,” she said.

Nature Bytes enables children and young people to reconnect with nature wildlife through STEM programmes of study and equipment, such as cameras, which allows them to engage with the outdoors. Ketka, meanwhile, teaches skills such as kindness, empathy and self-confidence through audio storytelling that the listener can actively participate in, firing their imagination.

The 12 companies pitched their products and ideas to four judges: David Savage, founder of the Tech Talks podcast; Leila Guerra, Associate Dean of Programmes, Imperial College Business School; author Greg Keen and Anissa Moeini, who is Doctoral Researcher with UCL EDUCATE.

In all, seven of the 12 competitors were UCL EDUCATE current or past participants. The others were: CENTURY Tech, Acorn Aspirations, SuperNotes, ZNotes and Atom Learning.

Zubair Junjunia, founder of ZNotes, who is still at university studying for a Master’s degree in mathematics, said: “I’ve pitched at other technology events, but this one was the most high-profile and prestigious I’ve ever been to and the standard has been incredibly high. I could see that some of the companies pitching here were far ahead of where we are and have a developed product which they’ve been out there with and testing.”

Tobias Whetton, founder of SuperNotes, part of cohort 6, said: “This was the first time that I’d pitched to a sector specific panel, as previously I’d participated in events that were more generally about technology,

“The government has really pigeon-holed EdTech in very narrow terms in its recent EdTech strategy, so it was great to see what a broad market the EdTech sector really is. We need solutions to the challenges facing teachers and learners.”

Leila Guerra said the judges had a difficult decision to make because of the standards of the presentations. “At the end of the day we were looking for a well-presented, well-rounded product, that addressed a particular need and was pinpointing a solution.”

The winners of the global event, which will take place on 23 January 2020, will receive $100,000 Cloud Credits, sponsored by Google Cloud for Startups and AWS Edstart to support their start-up’s growth. The first and second runners-up: $20,000 Cloud Credits, sponsored by Google Cloud for Startups while remaining finalists will receive $3,000 Cloud Credits, sponsored by Google Cloud for Startups.


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