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The EcoSENSE team at 鶹Ƶ

University entrepreneurs win place on innovative VentureVersity accelerator programme

Eleven potential new East Midlands businesses are a step closer to becoming reality after being chosen to join the first VentureVersity Commercial Accelerator.

Sarah Woods, a PhD student at 鶹Ƶ

Sarah Woods, Entrepreneurial lead for EcoSENSE.

VentureVersity is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at accelerating pathways for the development of university-generated intellectual property (IP) and ideas across the University of Leicester, 鶹Ƶ, and De Montfort University. The programme has been funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, with a £330k grant.

The eleven VentureVersity finalists will have access to seed investment and will benefit from a five-month intensive accelerator programme led by entrepreneur and coach Denis Oakley and Leicester Start-Ups to help them develop their business idea.

The first successful VentureVersity Accelerator projects, which include four initiatives from 鶹Ƶ, span;

Education

1. Building Resilience in Children (BRIC): an online and in classroom resource equipping parents, educators, & caregivers with the necessary tools, knowledge and strategies to help children build resilience

2. An online assessment tool to audit educators’ awareness of dyscalculia

3. Automating Individual Assessment Feedback (INDAF)

Health technology 

4. EnHANCE: a nonconventional system that eliminates pathogens to deliver clean indoor residential and industrial environments sustainably 

5. LUCID: Concussion Identification App

6. Healthcare Team Observations for Patient Safety (HTOPS)

Agriculture, forestry & fishing

7. LiquidGold: Next generation environmentally friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable carp health care product for angling and ornamental markets

Research

8. ValidateLabs: Validation data Processor

Water Utilities

9. e-Favor: an AI powered water leakage detection and localisation platform solution

10. EcoSENSE: Real-time monitoring of water systems

Manufacturing

11. Laser guided disc punch innovation advancing battery manufacturing 

Professor Dan Parsons, 鶹Ƶ’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “Our initiative VentureVersity provides a unique opportunity to contribute to regional growth and cultivate entrepreneurial success.

“From developing advanced multi-sensing technologies to combat climate change and pollution to creating an innovative portable smartphone app for measuring concussions, these projects are driving innovation that will lead to meaningful advances, enrich people’s lives and create better futures.

“I would like to personally congratulate the 11 finalists and look forward to seeing these innovations develop over the coming months.”

William Wells, Deputy Director of the Research & Enterprise Division at the University of Leicester, said: “The VentureVersity programme has already surpassed our expectations, training 26 dynamic teams and selecting 11 promising projects to advance to the next stage. We are immensely grateful to all participants, whose innovative spirit and dedication have laid a strong foundation for future success. 

“As we move forward, these projects will benefit from targeted mentorship, hands-on workshops, exposure to investors and, potentially, seed capital, driving their transformation into impactful real-world solutions. This next phase promises to invigorate our regional innovation ecosystem, fostering new products, services, and businesses that will contribute to the prosperity of Leicester and Leicestershire” 

Professor Mike Kagioglou, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Business and Innovation at De Montfort University said: “VentureVersity has provided an opportunity for all three of Leicestershire’s universities to work together to support the commercialisation of research that will benefit the economy and society. DMU’s projects range from an innovative real-time monitoring of water leaks that could save companies millions to improving lithium battery manufacturing and building resilience in young people.

“We were hugely impressed with the quality of applications from across the three universities to be part of the programme, and wish all 11 final project teams the very best of success. We look forward to following their business journeys over the next six months.”

VentureVersity was launched in November 2023 as part of the Leicester Business Festival. It kicked off with three mixer sessions, one held at each university, to enable academics/researchers to come together with businesses and students to pitch their IP/ideas.  More than 200 people came along to the events, and a total of 38 proposals were pitched by researchers and academics.

From the 38 proposals, 26 teams completed a pre-accelerator training programme of workshops, mentoring and 1-2-1 support run over eight weeks. The pre accelerator culminated with all pitching for a place on the accelerator and seed investment.  Of the 26 ideas, the judges chose the final 11 winning ideas. 

VentureVersity harnesses the resources and support from each university and in addition provides resources, including seed capital, to catalyse the IP commercialisation process, including activities such as market research, business planning, technology and market development.

The implementation and achievements of the model will be evaluated and recorded to create a scalable framework that can be deployed nationwide.

De Montfort University, 鶹Ƶ, and the University of Leicester are united under the Universities Partnership civic agreement. This agreement represents a collaborative commitment between the three universities and the regions of Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland to enhance the well-being of local residents and drive regional prosperity.

Details of all the projects can be found at , and projects are still keen to talk with potential collaborators and supporters.

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