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The NACUE 10th-Anniversary Dinner (Luke Netherclift and Xanthe Blain)

NACUE dinner

Photographs by Upstart Photography

Two of our Innovation Fellows, Luke and Xanthe, were fortunate to attend NACUE’s (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs) 10th Anniversary Celebration. In this article, Luke puts a spotlight on some of the start-ups whose founders were at the event.

NACUE was founded by a group of students in 2009 who were Presidents of their University’s Enterprise Society with the mission of engaging students and supporting the development of enterprise education throughout college and university. Since then, NACUE has achieved a phenomenal amount, reaching 32,000 students, 19,926 event attendees and 20,505 followers. The NACUE dinner had a host of amazing startups and businesses which were disrupting industries and making a positive social impact in the world. Here are just a few of our favourites!


Turtle Pack

Turtle Pack is a fun swimming aid designed to make learning to swim faster, more effective and more enjoyable. Its founder Michael Harkin decided to create Turtle Pack whilst at Heriot-Watt University, as he had been a swimming instructor for over 10 years and had always been passionate about teaching children a life skill. Through first-hand experience he realised there were no swimming aids that taught children how to swim effectively and through fun and enjoyment. He later read that almost half of children in the UK cannot swim and drowning is the third-highest form of accidental death. He knew he had to do something. Turtle Pack is an innovative patented swimming aid designed for children aged 2-7 years old. It was launched in January 2019 and has been sold in over 23 countries worldwide. Michael has big plans for the future of Turtle Pack, so this is definitely one to keep your eyes out for the next time you’re at the pool!


Exphand Prosthetics

Kate Walker founded Exphand Prosthetics when she was at Loughborough University as there is a global lack of access to suitable prostheses. The two largest barriers to obtaining prostheses are cost and accessibility as prosthetics must be custom made and individually fitted by a trained professional, making them expensive and hard to fix. This is exacerbated in children who regularly grow out of their prostheses. Common body-powered prosthetics cost £10,000 and without medical insurance or a national healthcare service they are unobtainable for many. ExpHand Prosthetics’ mission is to give every person across the world the opportunity to access prosthetics. They have created the ExpHand, an affordable, adjustable, customisable prosthetic arm for children from 3 to 10 years old that can be fitted at home, removing the bottleneck that is access to medical professionals. The ExpHand is manufactured using 3D printing and can be adjusted to grow with a child, increasing the useful lifetime of the prosthetic. The Exphand has some incredible designs, some of which are very funky and multi-coloured - they look amazing! It’s really inspiring to think about how these prosthetics are going to change some children's lives.


Honey's Skincare

Honey’s Skincare is a company designed to help the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of eczema sufferers by providing products that inspire, motivate and physically alleviate the effects of eczema. Christina Akintoye founded this range of aromatherapeutic products, based on all-natural ingredients, at Loughborough University. The products aim to uplift and calm the mood of their customers, and also to inspire and motivate individuals through the packaging. The active botanical ingredients in their products aim to alleviate the physical effects of eczema such as dry, inflamed and itchy skin. Honey’s is an incredible business, transforming and supporting the lives of many people who have eczema. We look forward to seeing its social impact grow! is a computational photography startup specialising in AI-accelerated hardware and software for modern photography. They were founded on the Entrepreneur First LD12 cohort but have now incubated at UCL Innovation & Enterprise’s Hatchery and are part of the NVIDIA Inception Program for AI start-ups revolutionising industries. The project crosses the boundaries between deep tech and the creative industries with a mission to empower creatives with technology. They are building an entirely new device, an AI-accelerated computational camera, giving creatives necessary, open and modern tools to enhance their work. The project is at the intersection of computer vision, artificial intelligence, and IoT, as well as creativity, photography and consumer goods. will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for their camera in Spring 2020. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this campaign runs because the potential of the synergies of the different technologies will revolutionise and disrupt taking photos as we know it!


Upstart Photography

Xanthe also met Stephen Hughes, founder of Upstart Photography, who were capturing images at the event and were kind enough to provide the photographs that accompany this article. Upstart Photography’s mission is to combine science and art together to capture moments in time. They recognise that the world is constantly changing, and to stay relevant, a much broader range of services than traditional photographers is required. Therefore, Upstart is revolutionising the media industry, filling the demand for products beyond simple flat, stock-like images and cloned corporate films. They tailor their services exactly to the customer’s desired look, stating “if you can imagine it - the chances are we can create it!” Their passion extends beyond a simple photoshoot, instead orienting themselves around people, where new ideas, concepts and collaborations are encouraged for further inspiration. Working with the likes of Uber, Bupa, EDF Energy, and of course NACUE, Upstart Photography is definitely a company to keep your eyes on!



Hopefully this huge variety of successful start-ups has provided you with some inspiration! If you are entrepreneurially-minded, we would strongly encourage you to get involved with NACUE. They host an annual Student Enterprise Conference, which you can find out more about here. Additionally, there is a yearly Tata Varsity Pitch Competition to celebrate high-potential, early-stage ventures coming directly out of colleges and universities across the UK. The winners receive a grand final prize of £15,000, so we would recommend reading more here! Remember, if these startups can do it, then so can you! For further information or help getting your idea off the ground, get in touch with Warwick Enterprise by emailing or reaching out to one of our team.

NACUE dinner