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Engineering

Biomechanical engineer lands £120,000 at Future Worlds Dragons’ Den 2019

Published: 27 May 2019
Dragons Den panel

Postgraduate research student Joshua Steer stole the show with an unprecedented £120,000 investment in a live Dragons’ Den-style contest at the University of Southampton.

An expectant audience spilled into the aisles for the Future Worlds Accelerator’s entrepreneurial showcase, which has now seen over half a million pounds pledged into student businesses in just five years.

Ambitious founders championed ideas ranging from a storytelling language tool to a fashion swapping app in front of over 250 spectators in The Cube at the University of Southampton Students’ Union.

The millionaire investors kept a firm hold on their cash until they were blown away by the School of Engineering’s Joshua Steer and his vision for an innovative software that designs better sockets for prosthetic limbs.

Joshua is using state-of-the-art biomechanical modelling in a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship to give clinicians real-time prediction of fit during the socket design process, saving health professionals valuable time and increasing the quality of life for people with limb loss.

In an event first, all four investors united to offer £120,000 for 20% of the Radii Devices spinout company. Joshua also topped an audience vote to take home the People’s Choice Startup Award sponsored by United Airlines.

“The whole Future Worlds’ Dragons’ Den process has been a huge learning experience and I’m really excited to use this major investment to accelerate the business,” Joshua said. “It was such a rush to pitch in front the audience and Dragon investors. I’m looking forward to working with them all as we optimise these devices to deliver life-changing benefits.”

Dragon investors Chris Broad, former Apple Director of Sales Contracting EMEIA, Andrew Doe, serial digital entrepreneur and founder of confetti.co.uk, and Sonja Lami, angel investor and Insight Investment Fund Manager, were joined on stage by Den debutant James Vernon, a co-founding partner and Chief Operating Officer of world leading hedge fund Brevan Howard.

Student entrepreneurs Tom Phipps and Max Beech, Ignác Szigeti, Dominika Woszczyk, Cade Abrahams and Emily Smith all drew praise for promising business ideas but narrowly missed out on investment on the day.

Ben Clark, Future Worlds Director, said: “It was great to see the capacity crowd swept up in the excitement of our fifth Future Worlds Dragons’ Den event. Joshua dazzled everyone in the room, including the Dragon investors, with his pitch for Radii Devices. The investment offer he secured on stage presents the ideal platform from him to accelerate his spinout toward clinical trials.

“All of the student entrepreneurs upped their game for the showcase and excelled in a daunting environment. There are many past entrants that have gone on to deliver international impact having initially missed out on investment in the Den, so it will be exciting to see what the 2019 cohort will achieve with our network’s support in the coming years.”

The Future Worlds accelerator is holding a workshop on Thursday 30th May to help students develop their own startup ideas and accelerate them towards launch. Spaces are limited with current students invited to reserve their place online.

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