Inspire Launch Grow

An annual celebration of enterprise at the University of Edinburgh.


The prestigious Inspire Launch Grow awards reflect the service Edinburgh Innovations provides to staff, students and recent graduates throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

We support you from the beginning, with or without an idea. We encourage that first innovative spark and help you sustain it. Our events, workshops, competitions and 1-2-1 meetings with a business adviser can help you start up or spin out a company and then develop further so you thrive. More than a competition, Inspire Launch Grow is one route to this unique and dedicated service at the University of Edinburgh.

The award has a total prize fund of £20,000 with a top prize of £5,000. Winners will be able to use the prize money flexibly to support their idea, research or studies. It’s entirely up to you!

“Finalists get a free professional photoshoot and the cash prize is not attached to any particular spending, which is extremely helpful compared to other competitions.”

Anton Puzorjov

ILG Social and Environment Award Winner 2018, One Cherry


ILG is now closed to applications.


Shortlisting process

All applications will be reviewed by the shortlisting panel, made up of the Enterprise Services team. They will assign entrants into the most appropriate category. In some cases, a business adviser may nominate an entrant if they are already working with the team.

For the Emerging Innovation Award for students and staff the winners and runners-up will be selected by the shortlisting panel and announced by Wednesday 1 May 2019.

For the Enterprise Award, Social and Environment Award and the Innovation Cup the Enterprise Services panel will shortlist and notify finalists no later than Wednesday 24 April 2019. Finalists will need to prepare a pitch to a panel of expert judges.

Unsuccessful applicants can receive feedback on their application and further advice by booking a meeting with a business adviser.

Benefits of applying

All finalists, as well as the winners and runners-up from the Emerging Innovation Awards for staff and the Emerging Innovation Awards for students, win a professional photography package. This is a fantastic opportunity to help promote yourself as an entrepreneur and your business/social enterprise. You will receive a portfolio of photography that you can keep and use however you wish as well as a pop-up banner.

Previous finalists have used this photography for social media, their website, promotion to various media and news outlets, in communication with investors and as part of their business plan. In order to take advantage of this opportunity you must be available from Monday 29 April to Wednesday 1 May 2019 at King’s Buildings Campus, Edinburgh.  Please note we cannot guarantee to photograph your entire team/company.

A pop-up banner will be created using your photoshoot photography and will be waiting for you at the Awards Ceremony.

Important dates

We would suggest you take a screenshot or photo of this list to help with your application:

1 April 2019 | 9.00am

Competition deadline

24 April 2019 

Successful applicants notified

1 May 2019 

Emerging Innovation winners notified

Week commencing 6 May 2019 | 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Pitching finals

Wednesday 24 April to 26 April 2019

Finalists’ photoshoot

6 June 2019

Awards Ceremony

Finalists' pitches

This is not a pitching competition and you will not be judged on your pitching skills. However, you will need to successfully communicate your research/startup/business or social enterprise and answer questions from the judges.

A panel of expert judges from external organisations and businesses will listen to and evaluate your research/startup/business or social enterprise proposal.

Each category will have its own judging panel made up of those with the most relevant experience. Previously our judges have come from Mercia Technology, Scottish National Heritage, Princes Trust Youth Business Scotland, Scottish EDGE and Archangel Investors.

This will be a closed 10-minute pitch (with no audience) and an additional 10 minutes for questions from the judges. We offer a virtual workshop to help you prepare for the pitch.

Finalists’ Pitches will be held in the week commencing 6 May 6.00pm – 9.00pm at King’s Buildings Campus. A 20-second version of your pitch will be recorded, on the same night, so that a brief video can be prepared for the award ceremony.

“Inspire Launch Grow highlights the talented people and fantastic projects that come out of the University of Edinburgh. Winning helped me launch Cytochroma.”

Kate Cameron

ILG Runner-up 2018, Cytochroma

Awards Ceremony

The winners will be announced at our prestigious Inspire Launch Grow Awards Ceremony on the evening of Thursday 6 June 2019. This is our annual celebration of enterprise. Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh and other VIPs from the University and beyond will be in attendance.


If you would like to apply for Inspire Launch Grow 2019 then please read the below information. This will help you complete your application form.

Guidelines for Entrants

What are the judges looking for?

This is not a competition for early-stage ideas. We are looking for applications from those who have already taken considerable steps towards starting up.  The judges will be looking at the following criteria:

  • Businesses taking considerable steps towards starting up i.e. generating revenue, have a product or prototype already built, received some startup funding or award, have customers or have a pilot project planned or underway.
  • Businesses will have confirmed that a market opportunity exists through independent validation or through direct contact with their market.
  • Businesses will have growth potential, scalability, potential to create jobs and impact on the local economy.  Social enterprises should have the potential to benefit local communities, environment, specific groups or society at large.
  • Businesses should have a strong and balanced team with technical competence and commercial expertise. Reviewed at the judges’ discretion.
  • Judges will reward creativity and innovation such as novel, interesting, unique ideas and business models. In social enterprises, judges are looking for sustainable business models.
  • For technical ideas, judges will be looking for some degree of technical validation to reinforce the assumptions are valid.


  • Applicants must be academic or support staff, postdoctoral researchers, other academic researchers, current students or alumni within four years of graduation from the University of Edinburgh. Cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged.
  • Individuals not affiliated with the University of Edinburgh are not eligible. An eligible applicant must be playing a key role in the business/social enterprise/idea for the business to be eligible.
  • Applicants must have already started up, intend to build a business within the next 12 months or be seeking to exploit the technology through commercialisation routes within the next 12 months.
  • Businesses who have moved beyond the startup phase should not apply. Businesses who already have revenue of around £100,000 or over, or been trading over two years at the time of application will be discussed at the judges’ discretion.
  • Previous years’ winners are not eligible. Finalists from previous years’ ILG competition can apply with a different business. The same business is eligible only if the applicant can demonstrate they have significantly changed their project since the previous year.
  • If you are unsure if you are eligible, please contact Teodora Handrea.