3D-printed knitwear startup Unmade wins annual Pitch@Palace event

Convened by Prince Andrew, the event brings together the country’s brightest entrepreneurs in St. James’ Palace

HRH the Duke of York has convened his fourth annual Pitch@Palace – a unique event that brings together 15 British entrepreneurs from around the UK to pitch their business ideas in St James’ Palace.

For the first time this year, Prince Andrew visited three cities outside London – Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh – to offer entrepreneurs from across the UK the opportunity to pitch at Monday’s event in the palace’s Picture Gallery.

“This is an innovative country, it’s not just London,” Prince Andrew told The Telegraph. “There are vibrant companies everywhere in the country. They deserve our support just as much.”

The Duke of York (left) speaks to Naveen Jain (right) during the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurial event at St James's Palace, London

The event takes place twice a year, with the entrepreneurs pitching to a select audience of around 300 CEOs, angels, mentors and business leaders.

A total of £103m has been invested into alumni companies since the event was launched last year.

Prince Andrew said: “[The goal] is to celebrate the innovation that entrepreneurship actually delivers to the UK, and is trying to raise the profile of enterprising activity by individuals and companies.”

The entrepreneurs that pitched on Monday were selected by a panel of judges from a group of 42 start-ups who revealed their ideas at a bootcamp event at Imperial College London last month.

Companies that made it through to the final session included Lifebox, started by a student from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering, which makes a low-cost baby incubator for newborns in developing countries.

The Duke of York (right) is shown a Life Box, a low-cost incubator for use in developing countries, by inventor Malav Sanghavi, at the Pitch@Palace Bootcamp at Imperial College, London

Others include Winnow, which helps commercial kitchens reduce food waste by using data analytics and counts former Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker as an investor; Appear Here, a start-up that runs pop-up shops in unused retail spaces and has raised £5.75m from investors like Balderton Capital and Scottish company Toothscan, which makes a device that can keep track of your dental health using a pulse of light.

The four-month-old Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems pitched a “USB connector” for prosthetics. In other words, their technology is a universal socket hub for any prosthetic limb that can be fitted on top of an amputee’s stump.

The startup that won first place, voted for by the audience via mobile phones, was Knyttan (now called Unmade), which has built a 3D printer for knitted clothes.

This allows its clients to custom-design knitwear that is manufactured just for them in 90 minutes, in its Somerset House factory.

The Duke of York (centre) is joined on stage by winners (left to right) Yarden Jacobsen, Jonathan Gan, Ross Bailey, and Hal Watts, during the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurial event at St James's Palace, LondonThe Duke of York (centre) is joined on stage by winners (left to right) Yarden Jacobsen, Jonathan Gan, Ross Bailey, and Hal Watts, during the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurial event at St James’s Palace, London  Photo: PA

“We are seeing many, many more young people conducting entrepreneurial activity,” Prince Andrew told The Telegraph. “Now that we are generating businesses that are successful, if we can reduce the risk in people’s minds…then that’s what I’m trying to achieve.”

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