VFA logo with support session text


You must put forward an idea for a viable business start-up and demonstrate that you have a credible implementation plan.

First round judging

The first round judges for each of the five categories will choose up to four finalists per category. The first round judging panels will comprise of internal staff at the University. 

Final round judging

Shortlisted finalists will present to the final round judging panel using a pre-recorded video pitch on Zoom. Each finalist will receive a 30 minute slot: 10 minutes for presentation and 20 minutes for live Q&A.

The final round judging panels will be held between 27 March and 31 March 2023. Dates for specific panels will be announced nearer the time. The final round judging panels will comprise senior staff from the University as well as external individuals. All external judges will be asked to sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements).

The core team must take part in delivering the presentation and Q&A. Any VFA23 finalist not able to present for any reason will be disqualified from the competition.


Judging Criteria

Opportunity / Problem

  • A clear opportunity; its scope, scale and what’s driving it
  • A real existing problem or need validated with market research
  • A good understanding of key stakeholders and the impact / cost of problem to them

Solution / Value Proposition

  • A clear value proposition and identification of unique selling points, focussing on benefits of the product / service demonstrating the competitive advantage
  • A good understanding of competing solutions and benchmarked against them
  • A strong mission / vision for the business

Market Knowledge / Go to market strategy

  • A clear understanding of first customers and why they would buy the product, alongside solid plan to secure first customers
  • Specific, actionable milestones which are realistic and achievable for the next 12-18 months
  • Understanding of resource requirements and consideration / management of risks to the business

Business Model / Financials

  • A clear explanation of revenue generation, details of the pricing strategy and expected breakeven point
  • A good understanding of the supply chain, key partners and resource requirements to build the business
  • Awareness of key financial requirements / costs to start up and run the business for the next 12-18 months

Additional information

  • Credible evidence that they can build / deliver this solution with an outline of current or ideal team
  • Detail of how £15,000 will be spent if successful
  • Demonstration that the award will have significant impact in helping start up or scale the business