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Mass Challenge UK Finalists: Event Report

Jun 2, 2015

This time a week ago, Alison Berryman, Anthony Purvis and I were getting ready to attend the Mass Challenge UK Finalist event.

Mass Challenge, if you haven’t had the chance to become acquainted with it yet, is the world’s largest start-up accelerator.  Launched and head quartered in Boston in 2009. This year it launched in the UK.

Mass Challenge’s vision is to foster a “start-up renaissance” built on businesses which are “creating new value”.  Broadly put, there is an emphasis on inventing and making, as well as social impact.  All of which is a very exciting place for an intellectual property lawyer.

We’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate all of the Mass Challenge UK 2015 Finalists. Several of the UK finalists have invented products which may prove life saving innovations in healthcare and/or life sciences but there are others which are just neat ideas that you know you would want to use. 

To qualify to be a finalist each of the entrepreneurs and/or companies were judged both on paper and in “Dragon’s Den” style pitch presentations.

Our highlights from the 80 strong pack of finalists is below:

Alison’s winners

Alison Berryman, our Head of Technology and Commercial law, was a judge for one of the “Dragon’s Den” rounds.  She was particularly delighted to see that three of the businesses that had pitched for her had got through, they were:

  • Perfocal: describes itself as the “Airbnb for photography”. It is a marketplace enabling amateur or professional photographers connect with customers.
  • Preliminal Games: its key product incorporates sophisticated software coding and algorithms to enable users to build 3-D environments in-game based on real-life Open Street Map mapping (or, if you’re not into real life, you can also use your own models).
  • Shoplo: is a software application which enables entrepreneurs, craftspeople, or anyone with an online shop to manage multiple on-line retail spaces with the energy that it takes to maintain one Etsy shop. It gives the seller a single dashboard through which they can control and manage all their on-line sales outlets, from their own website to Not On The High Street, Ebay and beyond.
     

All three of these draw together creative and technology businesses, enabling their users to develop and maximise returns.

Life sciences and biotechnology companies

Of those finalists focussed on healthcare technology there were two examples particularly sprang out for me:

  • MOM incubators: this was an innovative design for an inflatable incubator for premature babies. Having already won the James Dyson award for innovation MOM incubators are well on their way to doing great things.  The aim is to provide a relatively cheap, portable incubator which can deal with the stress on hospital space and costs in the developing world; and
  • GiveVision: this company is intent on using Google Glass (or at least something akin to it) for something useful! The company is developing assistive technology which enables visual information to be translated into audio information telling the wearer what is in front of him or her, helping blind individuals become more independent. (It is surely only a matter of time before these guys develop the full Geordi La Forge visor).
     

It was also great to see a client of Waterfront, Shoot, get into the finalists. One regret, we didn’t get to try on VisualWise’s virtual reality headset. Next time!