The Big Pitch 2022

A project to combat drowsiness among truck drivers, and software to recommend the most suitable personal safety app were among the student winners of thousands of pounds in cash and business support at The Big Pitch 2022 Grand Final.

The annual Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) competition encourages students from across the university to come up with an innovative project, develop and pitch it, and potentially win seed funding to help them make that idea a reality. This year’s final was the first held in person since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six groups of students made it all the way to the final, held at ARU’s Cambridge campus, where they had the chance to put their ideas to a judging panel made up of successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

Students Asima Rafique, Enrico Iraldo and Joseph Ashton’s company Exelerex, won £4,000 in prize money and an additional £3,000 Engineers in Business Award for their project to create truck safety devices. With drowsiness a major issue in the haulage industry, the students proposed retrofittable safety devices that monitor alertness in drivers using brain signals and infrared cameras. The company also received six months’ free office space at ARU’s Arise Innovation Hub, and a one-year membership of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Cannelle Roumanie and Sam Wood received £4,000 in prize money and virtual business support from Arise for their idea, the My Safety App Match (MySAM). With more than 50 personal safety apps to choose from on the market, MySAM is aimed at finding the most suitable app for an individual, enabling them to travel confidently and venture further.

Cannelle said: “The Big Pitch has been a socially enriching experience. Winning money was amazing, but overall, I feel that we won priceless knowledge and long-lasting friendships.”

Other winners included History Revisited (Adam Sheffield and his colleague Douglas), which proposes educational visits to schools based around military history using extensive collections of artefacts; Information Is Power (Ellie Benham), a centralised information hub online for those who have experienced violence; Green Wave (Sebastian Pagliaro and Tommaso Corciulo), which aims to develop technologies that use running water from rivers, canals and streams to supply a new source of consistent renewable energy; and Embrace Neurodiversity (Simon Preston), which focuses on supporting businesses in developing a neurodiversity-friendly environment.

Marcia Baldry, organiser of The Big Pitch on behalf of the Anglia Ruskin Enterprise Academy at ARU, said: “All students rose to the challenge and delivered pitches that professionals would be proud of. Their passion, determination, and enthusiasm did justice to themselves as well as ARU. An inspirational evening was had by all.”

Jade Uko, Development Manager-Essex for the FSB, who sat on the judging panel, said: “It was a pleasure to judge and take part in an event which is not only an excellent opportunity for the students but a fantastic showcase of the ARU and its staff.”

Simon Preston, whose project Embrace Neurodiversity was awarded £1,000 from the prize pot, said: “The Big Pitch has taught me to focus on my strengths and has given me the tools to build upon my business idea and turn this into a reality.”

A big thank you to our finalists:

Adam Sheffield - Educational Talks and Demonstrations 

Asima, Enrico and Joseph - Video Game Platform

Cannelle and Sam – My Safety App Match

Ellie Benham - Information is Power

Sebastiano Pagliaro - Green Wave

Simon Preston - Embrace Neurodiversity