Budding entrepreneurs set to pitch ideas at Plymouth Techstars startup event

South West entrepreneurs with a smart idea for a startup tech venture are one again being invited to pitch their proposals and work them up with the help of experts – and this time there is a focus on the marine sector.

The University of Plymouth is again hosting another Techstars Startup Weekend from November 12 to 14 and is stressing the event is open to anyone with a clever business plan, not just students.

The event, at the University of Plymouth, will see participants pitch their ideas and then work up the best ones. A panel of top business judges will then pick award winners. The concept debuted in Plymouth in 2019 and has proved successful, attracting a range of budding entrepreneurs.

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Mentors this time include communications specialist Jessica Holland,; software developer Tony Edwards, financial adviser Gregg Harding, zero-waste expert Dr Puja Thiel, design studio boss Nick Dell’Anno, associate professor in marine physics Alex Nimmo-Smith, technology expert Russ Cole, start-up coach Stewart Noakes and award-winning artist Jenny Evans. There will also be speeches from Real Ideas Organisation chief executive Lindsey Hall, and Helen Lofts, founder of Davy J swimwear.

Judges include Jo Royal, founder of Common Seas, professor of marine biology at the University of Plymouth Richard Thompson, Dawn Bebe of Crowdfunder, and Richard May, who led Plymouth’s successful bid for freeport status. The facilitator is Italy-based start-up guru Simon Demelas.

Prizes are sponsored by businesses including Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Plymouth College of Art, Real Ideas, and Smart Sound Plymouth.

Techstars is a global community of event organisers in more than 100 cities worldwide. A startup weekend is a three-day programme designed for those who want to learn how to start their own business.

They can transform a rough idea into a business model in just 54 hours, then pitch the idea to a panel of judges, thereby learning to network, collaborate, and pick up vital skills.

In Plymouth it is led by the University of Plymouth and is part of the iMayflower project, supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.

As a global centre of excellence for marine, Plymouth is one of the largest clusters of expertise in Europe and an ideal test-bed for innovation and entrepreneurship. Home to natural harbours and the largest naval base in Europe, Plymouth will also soon be home to the UK’s first National Marine Park. In 2020 Plymouth was also recognised as one of the top ten cities in the UK to launch a business.

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Emily Barrett, knowledge exchange officer at the University of Plymouth, said: “In collaboration with local business leaders and experts from the thriving South West marine industry, we’re inviting creative people from across Plymouth, and beyond, to join us for a Startup Weekend with a focus on Marine. This event will support new and innovative marine-themed ideas to emerge and come to life in Plymouth.

“With this event, we’ll be focusing on solving problems and filling gaps related to marine technology, renewables, cruise and leisure marine to boatbuilding, shipping, marine engineering and more. It’s time for the innovators and changemakers to shine! Let your own experiences or the challenges of the world inspire you. Whether you have ideas to protect the Marine environment or to invent the next autonomous vessel, the ultimate objective of this event is to empower you to take any idea from concept to creation.”

Anyone can register by November 11, with details here.

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William TelfordBusiness Editor, Plymouth Live