Inspiring start-ups triumph in university pitching contest

Inspire100 winners Elliot Johnson Humphrey from CataNiTek, Mark Smith and Garance Locatelli from MARKED : Wayfinding System, and Kayla-Megan Burns from Podplistic

Six Strathclyde-led companies pitched their businesses to an audience of entrepreneurs, investors and experts for a share of £17,500 prize funding in the bi-annual Strathclyde Inspire100 event.

Start-up companies in the University of Strathclyde community staked their claims for funding in the competition held at the Technology and Innovation Centre on Thursday 9 May.

The Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Award winners were also announced and Dr Ralf Bauer and Dr Peter William Tinning from Electrical & Electronical Engineering at the University were awarded £75,000 to develop affordable microscopy platforms.

Research award

Hamish Dow from Civil & Environmental Engineering was awarded an equal share of £75,000 for research into adaptive lighting for inspection of concrete structures and Dr Anthony McGarry from Biomedical Engineering received the same amount for his project to develop prosthetic limb socket design.

Hosted by the University’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, businesses across early-stage start-ups which have taken part in the Inspire Accelerator Programme and potential spin-outs working with the Commercialisation Team, made their three-minute pitches to a judging panel of experienced investors and entrepreneurs.


The total prize fund was £17,500, with the Stephen Young Foundation providing a prize pot of £10,000, for a start-up or spin-out business and Santander providing a prize pot of £7,500 for a start-up business.

Elliot Johnson Humphrey from chemical manufacturing company CataNiTek was awarded £10,000 from the Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Fund.

He said: “The £10,000 prize as it will be crucial in supporting our company's market integration and in advertising the utility of our product." 

Santander Universities split the prize fund equally between Mark Smith and Garance Locatelli for their innovative navigation system ‘MARKED: Wayfinding System’ and Kayla-Megan Burns from Podplistic, an online audio company.

Garance Locatelli said: "The investment we received from Inspire100 will help us build our product, establish our business, and bring us closer to competing in the European market, which is something we're aiming for."

In September 2021, the University received a donation from alumnus and global business leader Dr Charles Huang from his philanthropic foundation. This transformational gift funds the Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Awards, the Stephen Young Global Leaders’ Scholarship Programme and the Stephen Young Institute, all launched in honour of Dr Huang’s PhD mentor, the late Professor Stephen Young. 

Fiona Ireland, Head of Entrepreneurship Strategy at the University, said:

The event showcased the transformative impact of Inspire100, highlighting how our award-winning entrepreneurial campus is actively nurturing the next wave of innovative entrepreneurs.

“The prizes our entrepreneurs received on the night were made possible by the generous contributions from the Charles Huang Foundation and Santander Universities.”

The judging panel was Neil Logan, Senior Enterprise Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, Michelle Kinnaird, Head of Investment, Scottish Enterprise and Paul Wilson, CEO & Founder of Smart Things Accelerator Centre.

Since the launch of the Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Award for an Outstanding Business Idea Research Paper in 2022, £450,000 has been awarded to academic entrepreneurs to generate impact from their research.