Do you have a prize-winning plan to create a more sustainable world? You could win a share of £30,000 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 ‘Sustainable Sussex’ 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.

Pitch for the Planet 2023 was postponed due to industrial action. The competition will now close for entries on 13 April 2023 and the Dragons’ Den-style pitching event will take place on 25 April 2023.

Please note that applicants may wish to separately apply for the University of Sussex Accelerator to avoid disappointment. Accelerator applications close prior to the selection of Pitch for the Planet winners and only up to four winning teams will be offered a place on the Accelerator.

Some of the winners of Pitch for the Planet 2022

The prize

The University is offering up to four prizes from our £30,000 funding pot for the best proposals to maximise sustainability at Sussex in the following areas:

  • Ethical Educators – embedding sustainability in student experience teaching and research
  • Decarbonising the Economy – reducing carbon as we work to create a net zero world
  • Civic Leaders and Partners – supporting sustainability in the community, including sustainable travel and supply chains
  • Environmental Champions – creating responsible production and consumption in areas including food, water, waste and biodiversity.

See the Sustainability Strategy for more information on what is included in each categry.

The winners of each prize (2022 winners pictured above) will receive a share of the £30,000 prize pot and will be guaranteed a place on the University’s summer accelerator, taking place over four weeks in June and July 2023.

Taking place in the 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.

Please note that it is expected that winning entrants will be available to take part in the Summer Accelerator and this will be confirmed before teams are shortlisted.

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

Complete our online form to submit your idea by 11.59pm on Thursday 13 April.

Shortlisted Entrants will be contacted by Monday 17 April. If you are not contacted, you have not been shortlisted.

Download the Pitch For The Planet terms and conditions [PDF 144KB].

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.

The judging process

Applications will be shortlisted by an independent panel of staff from across the University.

Shortlisted teams will pitch their ideas in-person at a Dragon’s Den-style event to a team of panellists, in front of a live audience. Up to four of the teams selected will receive funding and incubation support.

The panel includes:

  • Allan Spencer – Finance Director and Sustainability Executive Sponsor
  • Darren Tenkorang – founder of TRIM-IT and Sussex Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Lucy Hughes – founder of MarinaTex and Sussex alumna
  • Further pannelist(s) to be confirmed.

The Pitch for the Planet event will be held at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

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