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Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2018

The University of Cambridge annual business pitching competition encourages and supports University students to be more entrepreneurial and is open to all students and graduates from a Santander UK partner*. It rewards student and graduate entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes, mentoring and startup support. Since the competition's launch, more than £340,000 has been awarded to startups and small businesses. In 2018 there is a total of over £90,000 worth of equity-free seed funding available and other forms of support to be awarded.

POCKiT diagnostics awarded runners up prize at the 2018 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.

POCKiT diagnostics, currently supported by Accelerate Cambridge, is aiming to improve brain stroke diagnosis. They were one of 12 shortlisted to take part in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards national final in London in November 2018. The two runners up receive £15,000 of seed funding.

Participating in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2018 has been a great experience that improved our enterprise on many different aspects. The preparation for the semi-finals back in June this year required us to perform an all-around critical evaluation of the venture and offered us a platform to formally present our innovation to the public. The London Accelerator week organised by Santander has also been greatly inspiring: we attended seminars on key aspects to consider when starting a company and we got in contact with many other like-minded young entrepreneurs. We are greatly honoured and proud of having been selected for the final stage of this prestigious award. The Accelerate Cambridge programme run by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) has been instrumental for this achievement. The vibrant and stimulating environment at CJBS, together with world-class mentoring support has helped us to mature our ideas into a real venture. We are greatly thankful for this incredible opportunity.
Edoardo Gaude, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, POCKiT diagnostics

Other members of the team include:

  • Gonzalo Ladreda, Co-founder and CEO
  • Alessandro Scandurra, Co-founder and CCO
  • Marcos Ladreda, Co-founder and CSO

This year participants can take part in one of the following two categories:

  • Technology business - This is defined as a business or idea with hardware and/or software central to the businesses value proposition
  • Non-technology business - This is defined as a business or idea that has a value proposition that is not primarily based around hardware and/or software

What could you win?

The two winning businesses will receive:

  • £25,000 of equity-free seed funding
  • Mentoring from business experts
  • Access to the accelerator week
  • A fully funded intern
  • £500 digital growth voucher from Talent Cupboard

The two runners up will receive:

  • £15,000 of equity-free seed funding
  • Mentoring from business experts
  • Access to the accelerator week
  • A fully funded intern
  • £500 digital growth voucher from Talent Cupboard

Stage 1: You and your idea

  • Submission of a two-minute video, overview of the business, its origins and evidence of what impact winning the competition would have on your business
  • Business model canvas (template issued by Santander, available under 'Useful resources' on the right) providing an insight into the value proposition and inner workings of the business.
  • Submission form

If you are nominated by the University as one of the two businesses they nominate to put forward then your submission will be passed to Santander by the University competition co-ordinator. Following this the next stage is the regional heats in held in June.

Please note the deadline for Stage 1 submission is 20 April 2018.

If you are interested in booking an appointment please register your interest.

To register, prospective participants must get in touch with Cambridge Judge Business School's Entrepreneurship Centre. In addition, the Entrepreneurship Centre shall be offering a series of tailored workshops and drop-in sessions.

Find out more and apply

Stage 2: Understand your business


Judging criteria – Santander will be looking for:

  • a clear explanation of your business or organisation, its purpose and impact and an understanding of the problem that it solves for customers or communities;
  • an understanding of where your business or idea came from (i.e. personal challenge, as a result of studying); and evidence of how winning the competition would help you grow your business.

Business model canvas

  • the completed business model canvas needs to be based on the information provided in each of the areas contained within the template.


Your pitch will be marked on your ability to demonstrate an understanding of four key areas:

  • Your customers
  • Your product and/or service and the impact it has on customers and communities
  • Your business model and its viability
  • What the impact of winning the competition would be.

Stage 3: Growing your business

Following the three regional heats, the successful businesses will be invited to attend an accelerator week which will provide them with a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers. Details of the partners participating in the event will be announced over the coming months. During this week finalists will participate in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping you understand how to get the most from your business.

The one-to-one session with the Santander advisors was very helpful with preparing my application. The business model canvas is a good exercise for analysing key elements in your business. The video was made to resonate the judges with my entrepreneurial journey and how SMILE could help millions of people. It was a great experience and I was honoured to represent the University as a pre-revenue startup to participate at Santander's semi-final competition.
Kitty Liao, Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship alumna, semi-finalist for the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards 2017
* About Santander Universities

Santander has been collaborating with universities for more than 20 years on a unique global initiative which sets the bank apart from other national and international banks and financial institutions. The bank supports the higher education sector in such areas as teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student mobility and innovation. Santander has signed collaboration agreements with over 1,200 academic institutions from America, Asia and Europe. Santander is already collaborating with 80 British universities with agreements focused in promoting international exchange, entrepreneurial activities, employability and the mobility of students and researchers within the network. View a list of all eligible universities.

Applications closed

Applications for this year have now been closed.

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