Student Hub

Do you have a prize-winning plan to tackle climate change? You could win a share of £20,000 to bring your idea to life.

Enter our Pitch for the Planet competition

Our annual Pitch for the Planet student innovation competition gives you the chance to win some funding and a coveted spot in our summer accelerator programme to help you develop a sustainability idea.

This year’s competition theme is "From Covid Crisis to Net Zero" and aims to bring together and implement ideas on how we can achieve our goal of Net Zero Carbon by 2035, alongside other areas of our University of Sussex Sustainability Strategy, in partnership with our local community.

Some of the winners of Pitch for the Planet 2021

The prize

The University is offering up to four prizes from our £20,000 funding pot for the best proposals to maximise sustainability at Sussex in the following areas:

  • reducing energy consumption;
  • carbon capture and/or compensation;
  • reducing water consumption;
  • sustainable education and/or community engagement;
  • protecting or enhancing biodiversity;
  • sustainable food and/or agriculture; or
  • sustainable travel.

The winners of each prize (2021 winners pictured above) will receive a share of the £20,000 prize pot and will be guaranteed a place on the University’s summer accelerator, taking place over four weeks in June 2022.

Taking place in the newly-opened Student Centre and supported by expert partners, the accelerator provides a platform to launch and grow your venture, offering coaching, specialist advice, mentorship from founders, intern support and further funding opportunities.

This prize is sponsored by the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

Who can take part

All current undergraduate or postgraduate students can apply, either as an individual or with a team of up to six people, whether you will still be studying at Sussex next year or not. Teams can be made up of students from different schools and subjects.

If you have a visa

You cannot engage in business activity if you have a Student visa. You are allowed to research ideas and theoretically explore venture creation, but you cannot launch or trade while on a Student visa. Winners of Pitch for the Planet are expected to develop their ideas into trading enterprises, so consider your visa status when entering the competition. If you have a Graduate visa you are allowed to work self-employed in the UK for up to two years after graduation in the UK. See more about working in the UK with a Graduate visa.

How to enter

Ideas needed to be submitted by 10am on Monday 21 February.

Download the Pitch For The Planet terms and conditions [PDF 155KB].

What we’re looking for

Winning entries are likely to meet three or more of the following additional criteria:

  • make explicit link to one or more Sustainable Development Goals
  • support at least one of the objectives within the new University sustainability strategy
  • produce an economic and/or social benefit, alongside the environmental benefit it provides
  • propose involvement and/or support from a local partner organization such as a social enterprise, business or charity
  • lead to a lasting viable financial legacy – such as the creation of a student start-up company or intellectual property licence.

Shortlisting

Applications have been shortlisted by an independent panel of staff from across the University.

The shortlist is:

  • Green Music City – Guillermo Carnicero and Ben Simanowitz
  • Digital Metre Devices – Catarina Filipe Silva
  • My Eco Consultant – Gabriel Maddison
  • Micro Greens – Jack Zeniewski
  • Wilderness Wild – Samuel Gandy and Victoria Yates
  • GOUDI – Kimia Goudarzi
  • Biodiversity Sussex – Timothy Merritt and Daniela Valenzuela.

They will pitch their ideas at a Dragons’ Den style event to a team of panellists, including the Provost, Rachel Mills, in front of a live audience – with up to four selected to receive funding and incubation support.

The Pitch for the Planet event will be held at ACCA on Friday 4 March 2022, with shortlisted teams of students pitching their ideas either in-person or on Zoom.

Support from our Entrepreneurship team

If you’d like to discuss the viability of your idea, get feedback on your application or understand next steps in turning your idea into reality, the Entrepreneurship team is available for one-to-one appointments.

Book an Entrepreneurship Exploration appointment with a member of our team.

They can help you with specialist advice on everything from funding and finance to marketing and intellectual property protection as well as explain other opportunities available through the university network.

See more from Sustainability