Students and recent graduates from more than 50 colleges and universities across Britain entered our Student Start-up of the Year competition, supported by Microsoft and 123 Reg.

It was a very hard decision but here are the 10 semi-finalists who will pitch to a panel of expert judges in London on 19 May for the chance to win prizes including £3,500 cash funding. 

From those, five will be shortlisted for a public vote with the winner announced at the Go and Grow Online Summit in London on 24 May.

PretzelsMaria Wasner, Pretzelmarie (University of West London)

Since moving to London from Munich, I've missed the smell and taste of fresh baked bread, pretzel or rolls, which can be bought at every corner in Germany. My idea is to sell fresh pretzels with different toppings such as typically Bavarian with butter, camembert or obazda, but also vegan with hummus or tahini. I also want to integrate the different cultures so the pretzels will be topped with Halal spreads for example. My goal is to sell them in my own small shops, but also in M&S, Waitrose, Tesco etc.

Ability AccessSimon Sansome, Ability Access (De Montfort University)

Ability Access is a interactive database of information for people with disabilities that assists them with accessing the towns, villages and their community. 

People with disabilities will be able to upload pictures, reviews and videos of places they have visited and report on how accessible places are.

This will include all public open spaces including shops, cinema, schools, libraries, pubs, clubs and restaurants. It will give people with disabilities the option to choose where to visit and not get turned away because of how inaccessible the place is, giving the person more independence and confidence to visit more places in the community and further afield.

Lil PopSydney Chasin, lil'POP (Edinburgh Napier University)

What's the worst part about popcorn? Pesky kernels that get caught in your teeth! Worry no more; lil’POP The Healthy Crop is coming to the rescue! 

lil'POP is an exciting new snack food company specialising in popped sorghum, which looks like miniature popcorn, but is a super-grain that is better for the environment and better for you! A drought resilient, eco-friendly, nutrient-packed crop, sorghum is predicted to be the next quinoa! lil’POP is the first-ever packaged popped sorghum product in Europe. Best part? It doesn't get caught in your teeth!

Jaspreet Paul, UniRoomie (University of Brighton)

UniroomieUniRoomie aims to help students search for rooms and roommates based on a combination of their desired price, location, living preferences and mostly importantly; interests. We believe living with the right people at university not only improves the time we spend away from home, it also makes us more productive, and can help to reduce isolation and loneliness among the student community. 

Users simply input the relevant information and our site will connect students together, giving them the opportunity to learn more about each other before making the leap and moving in with one another.

Cindy & Faith   LaraCindy Liberman, Lara Intimates (London College of Fashion)

Lara Intimates is a sustainable underwear brand launching in September 2017. Every garment is made with reclaimed materials, unused or mis-dyed by large factories or brands. 

From June, we will set up the Lara Intimates Factory in East London, where our team can monitor sustainable practices and limit fabric and stock waste. Most importantly, Lara will participate in the resurgence of British manufacturing, bringing the technical skills of lingerie design and construction to people in London.

Along with supporting British industry and a sustainable fashion supply chain, Lara also works to empower women with perfectly fitted bras. With a size range of 28A-36E, Lara offers more sizes than nearly any retailer on the high street and independent market. Lara’s website also features the Find My Size tool, where women can input two measurements to learn their correct bra size.

Assemble Main Logo 1Callum Coombes, Assemble (University of East Anglia)

Assemble is a web and mobile platform that helps you locate your remote workforce in real time, without expensive tracking equipment. Remote workers can now share their real-time location, share any issues or challenges they’re having, and share their current progress on the job, all-in-one easy to use experience, on any device.

Remote teams around the world, such as real estate agents out and about at house viewings, home-service businesses doing installations, builders, cleaning companies and more all have a nightmare communicating their location and their day-to-day activities.

Currently the only partial solutions are costly vehicle tracking systems that are far too expensive for small businesses, and few employee tracking apps that just don't live up to the mark, all of which are ugly, confusing and hard to use. So that’s why we built Assemble

TshrtGiovanni Basile-Garcia, Ti&Shirt (King's College London)

Ti&Shrt is an iFashion retail digital platform that allows people to utilise their Instagram for printing custom t-shirts. 

Furthermore, the Ti&Shrt platform will enable users to monetise their Instagram content based on print requests received.

Ti&Shrt's major vision is to reshape the fashion experience and aims to be the first fashion company to give up the brand privilege and allow everyone to be the brand  of their own clothes.

Powmatblue500Mohammed Shah, POW (Brunel University)

Electric bikes are the best way to get around London but they have some unresolved issues. 

Firstly, they are too expensive. An average quality electric bike costs around £1500. Secondly, batteries are prone to failure and degradation, just as they are on smartphones and laptops. Unlike laptops and phones, though, replacements can cost around £500. If someone wants to convert their bike to electric now it is extremely tedious and requires a lot of research and dealing with dodgy suppliers.

POW aims to democratise personal electric transport for everyone. POW provides an affordable and hassle free way to have your own electric bike.

You bring your own bike to us, or a fitting partner, and then we convert your bike to a electric at just £35pm. POW makes electric bikes cheaper than a bus pass.

Thomas JohnstonThomas Johnston, Craft Ginger Beer (Imperial College London)

My business idea is brewing a craft ginger beer. I have worked in an independent off license in Co. Down, Northern Ireland over the past three holiday periods. During my time, I have got a great insight into the drinks industry, as well as the know how to run a business. 

Being a penultimate year chemical engineering student has taught me the in-depth knowledge of batch processing, along with courses on business management. The craft beer and craft spirits industry has noticeably boomed over the last few years, with microbreweries popping up all over the UK. 

The choice of ginger beer was based on a number of factors. One is that it is a drink that can be enjoyed with or without alcohol content, making it available to a wider range of consumers. Another is that it is widely used as a mixer, and many spirit companies have paired their product with ginger beer/ale. 

I think there is a large market for a product like this. Ginger beer produced in Northern Ireland would also have a strong marketing play, as it is believed to be first brewed in Belfast.

Thin Air Logo DarkSam Bruggen, ThinAir (Imperial College London)

Existing ways of obtaining water are not sustainable. They are either too expensive, require huge infrastructure, or simply do have high enough yields. In fact, water scarcity is not an issue just faced by poor countries. Rich developed nations such as Australia and the UAE also struggle with these problems.

We need a solution that can produce water cheaply, in high yields, anywhere on this planet. The air around us contains 13 million billion litres of water. 

ThinAir has designed a solution to take advantage of this untapped resource. By combining biomimicry and principles from materials science, we have created a biomembrane that condenses water at a high efficiency, allowing it to be used in areas of relatively low humidity.

Join us at the Grow and Grow Online Summit, the must-attend digital business event of the year, in London on 24 May. Find out more here and book a ticket below.

Have your say

No-one has commented on this article yet.

Be the first to comment
Icon events

Inspiring events

Come along to one of our networking events, start-up classes or expert workshops.

Browse events

Latest articles

Browse all posts

Ask Emma: How do I hire an apprentice?

17/08/2017

Recruiting an apprentice is a great way to train your workforce of the future and get help from government towards the cost. Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones explains how to...