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Applications now open for unique Pitchfest competition

Alec Anderson, Pitchfest winner
Alec Anderson, owner of Koolmill and competitor in Pitchfest 2015

16 February 2016

Applications are now open for Pitchfest – the competition that trains entrepreneurs how to win investment. Finals are taking place in front of a national audience of investors at Venturefest West Midlands on Thursday 23rd June 2016.

Pitchfest is a unique pitching competition jointly organised by Aston University, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick. It presents an opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs to raise their profile and potentially win one of several awards at Venturefest West Midlands 2016.

Applications are made via an online formEarly applications are encouraged to give entrepreneurs the time needed to refine their pitch - vital to delivering a winning presentation at the final.

The Pitchfest competition is entirely free and open to any business sector. Applicants can own a business going through growth or in early stages, or simply have a good business idea.

Businesses pitching for investment frequently overlook the need to tailor their pitch to an investor audience, focusing instead on what they would present to potential customers. This represents a major pitfall when it comes to winning external finance. Pitchfest was developed to combat this, and free pitching workshops are run at each of the three Universities to help participants hone their delivery.

Shortlisted applicants will present to a judging panel, and selected finalists will pitch to leading investors and industry experts at Venturefest WM on Thursday 23rd June 2016 at the NEC, Birmingham, watched by an audience of potential investors. This one-day event, supported by Innovate UK and part of a national network of Venturefests, brings together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to meet, engage, and discuss ideas.

Paula Whitehouse, Director of Aston Centre for Growth, said: 

“Access to finance for small businesses and entrepreneurs is vital for growth, which is why Pitchfest is once again a key element of Venturefest WM. A fully-developed finance pitch isn’t necessary, just a viable business idea or growth opportunity along with the ambition to succeed.  We will help all successful applicants to develop a suitable finance pitch with workshops, practice pitches and feedback from expert panels of investors and industry leaders, all completely free of charge.”

In 2015, the first Venturefest WM attracted 483 delegates and an independent evaluation by the ERC found that it led to £1.44m of financial returns, along with the development of 1,410 new connections between innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovation support. 

James Richmond of Roompik, winner of the 2015 Early Stage award, said:

“Pitchfest was the catalyst for getting the deal across the line with investors - the moment it all finally happened. Our pitch evolved dramatically throughout the process – just repeatedly answering questions from the judges helped.”

Byron Dixon, owner of Micro-Fresh and winner of the 2015 Best Pitch award said:

“The publicity from the event is something you just can’t buy – taking part, and winning the award, has given us exposure to some of the best investors in the region and nationally. The confidence I have gained in approaching investors has helped us secure international investment too.”

Any business or entrepreneur interested in taking part in 2016 is invited to complete the Pitchfest application form or for further details email centreforgrowth@aston.ac.uk

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For further media information, please contact Katy Lewis, Aston Business School on 0121 204 3124 or k.a.lewis@aston.ac.uk

Venturefest West Midlands

Venturefest WM is part of a national network of Venturefests supported by InnovateUK and is being supported locally by business, universities, science parks and business support organisations from across the region. For more information and to register for a place, go to the Venturefest WM website.

For more information Pitchfest, see http://www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/business/centre-for-growth/pitchfest-2016/

To apply, businesses should fill in the application form at http://www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/business/centre-for-growth/pitchfest-2016/apply-now/

Aston Centre for Growth at Aston University

Aston Centre for Growth offers leading growth programmes and other opportunities for SME owners looking to grow their business.  Aston is one of only three business schools nationally to hold Small Business Charter Gold status, and we have experience of working with hundreds of SMEs to support their business growth on high profile programmes such as Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.