Pitch perfect trio earn place in UK start-up boot camp

PITCH PERFECT: Regional winners of the Pitch@Palace in Belfast were Jacob Wedderburn-Day of Stasher, Michael Holden of Mobiloo and Dr Jason McKeown of Neurovalens. Photo: Paul Faith
Gary McDonald Business Editor

LOOS, luggage and weight loss don't necessarily scream high tech.

But three key inventions in those sectors have earned a trio of Northern Ireland start-ups a crack at the top prize in UK-wide competition created by the Duke of York to accelerate the work of entrepreneurs.

The three emerged best of a group of more than 40 wannabes who pitched their business ideas, covering a range of sectors including biotech and medical technology, energy, consumer technology and cyber security, at the Belfast heat of Pitch@Palace in Ormeau Baths.

The trio going straight through are Mobiloo, which hires out high-dependancy mobile lavatory and bathroom facilities to allow disabled people to attend outdoor festivals; Neurovalens, which has launched a wearable wellness device called Modius, which treats diseases through the electrical modulation of the nervous system; and Stasher, which is the world's first sharing economy solution for luggage storage.

The three winning entrepreneurs will now attend Pitch@Palace boot camp in Cambridge in October and then the Pitch@Palace at Buckingham Palace on November 8.

Speaking in Belfast, the Duke of York said: “Pitch is a collaborative activity helping the start-up and scale-up ecosystem. It's the connections by the audience which probably make the biggest difference to the entrepreneurs here today.”

Since the Pitch@Palace initiative was set up in 2014, it has helped 678 start-up businesses to create 2,314 new jobs and generate over £600 million of new economic activity.

It has even spawned a multi-million pound business after technology start-up business Magic Pony, which met its investors through the programme, was sold to Twitter in June 2016 for $150 million.

Alan Watts, director of Capital Match at Catalyst Inc, said “We were delighted to support Pitch@Palace again this year. The quality of the companies pitching and the passion for their products was outstanding.

"We have many world leading ambitious technology start-ups in Northern Ireland and Pitch@Palace is a great opportunity that could catapult these businesses to the next level. We wish Mobiloo, Neurovalens and Stasher the best of luck in the next stage.”

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