For students

Inspire Launch Grow Awards

Our biggest competition is back for 2021! Inspire Launch Grow is our annual celebration of enterprise at the University of Edinburgh.

This past year has been like no other with many businesses and social enterprises struggling with lockdown. While we recognise the challenges that many went through, we also want to recognise the resilience, ambition and success of entrepreneurs from the University of Edinburgh.

Enter this competition to be in with a chance of winning part of the £20,000 prize fund plus a photography package for all finalists.

Enter now 

Deadline: Monday 7 June at 9am 

How it works

  • Enter the competition by the deadline of 9am on Monday 7 June 2021
  • Finalists will need to pitch to a panel of judges in the week commencing 14 June 2021
  • Winners announced at the Inspire Launch Grow Awards on 24 June 2021

How to enter

For all students and recent graduates (up to 4 years after graduation). To apply, you must complete the form before the deadline of 9am on Monday 7 June 2021. There is just one application form. Please read eligibility and tips on what the judges are looking for with the below document: 



We have a total prize fund of approx. £20,000 with a top prize of £5,000 for each of the three categories and £500 for runners-up. If you are successful the prize money can be used at your discretion.

All finalists win a professional photography package. This is a fantastic opportunity to help you promote yourself as an entrepreneur and your startup. You will receive a photography voucher to use in the next 6 months. You can arrange a time and date to suite you and your team with our photographer in Edinburgh. Further terms and conditions apply (see document below). The photos are for you and you can use them however you wish as well as pitch training and design support for your presentation. 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.


All applications will be reviewed by the shortlisting panel, made up of the Enterprise Services team. They reserve the right to move you to a different category than the one you applied for if they believe this would benefit you. In some cases, a business adviser may nominate an entrant for Inspire Launch Grow if they are already working with the team.

  • The Emerging Enterprise Award is for non-technical ventures with outstanding commercial potential. The finalists have been judged to have novel, interesting or unique ideas and business models. Innovative businesses will have a promise for high growth as well as scalability, and the potential to create jobs and have an impact on the local economy. In this category, judges are looking for strong customer validation. The winner will receive £5,000 and the runners-up £500.
  • The Innovation Award is for technology-based businesses, social enterprises and ideas with high growth potential. Initial concept feasibility testing and market validation must be under way and a product or prototype must have been developed. Applications for this award are judged and a winner and runner-up chosen by the shortlisting panel. The winner will receive £5,000 and runners-up £500.
  • The Impact Award is designed for social enterprises focused on change for the common good. While finalists must demonstrate a sustainable business model, like any traditional business, a social enterprise doesn’t stop there. Those profits are put to good use, trying to make a positive change in society or the environment. Those with potential to benefit local communities, the environment and specific groups or the wider society can be found in this category. The winner will receive £5,000 and the runners-up £500.


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


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 startup and answer questions from the judges.

A panel of expert judges from external organisations and businesses will listen to and evaluate your proposal.

Each category will have its own judging panel made up of those with the most relevant experience. This will include one Edinburgh Innovations employee, a previous Inspire Launch Grow winner or finalist, and one business expert. 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 ten minute pitch (with no audience) and an additional ten minutes for questions from the judges. We offer a virtual pitching workshop to help you prepare for the pitch.

Finalists Pitches will be held in the week commencing 14 June 2021 9am-6pm online.


Awards Ceremony

The winners will be announced at our prestigious Inspire Launch Grow Awards Ceremony on Thursday 24 June 2021. This is our annual celebration of enterprise and a chance for Inspire Launch Grow applicants, finalists and winners to pitch and talk about their business with the wider enterprise ecosystem.

We aim to make this event a celebration of our students and alumni entrepreneurial success, while giving attendees the opportunity to connect and form new partnerships and collaborations. Invitees include University of Edinburgh entrepreneurs, alumni, entrepreneurial organisations, businesspeople, partners, investors and university colleagues. If you are not a finalist, but would like to attend Inspire Launch Grow Awards please register here.


The Inspire Launch Grow Awards are an opportunity to receive that recognition and during the event, attendees will have the opportunity to share their business ideas with our enterprise community.


Inspire Launch Grow dates

Competition deadline:  Monday 7 June at 9am
Successful applicants notified:    w/c 14 June 2021
Pitching finals: w/c 14 June 2021
Inspire Launch Grow Awards Ceremony:    Thursday 24 June 2021

Enter now 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dora at

Inspire Launch Grow Awards 2021