NI start-up pitch competition LEVELUP opens for applications

  • Early-stage start-ups in Northern Ireland can now apply for the LEVELUP pitch competition, which will see the winning company take home a £2,000 cash prize. 

    The contest will take place during the LEVELUP 2021 event on 21 - 22 April, that forms part of Derry and Strabane Enterprise Week.

    It is being delivered by self-start society Startacus in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District.

    The event will seek to inspire change and encourage entrepreneurship at a local level, exploring how people (both locally and internationally) have created opportunity, initiated real change and developed economic growth.

    Six core themes will be focused on over the two days and the competition is seeking to find innovative start-ups that fit them:

    • Smart Places and Rural Innovation 

    • Retail and High-Street

    • Entrepreneurship & Innovation 

    • Health & Wellness 

    • Social Change 

    • Inclusion & Diversity


    There will be a Wildcard category for early-stage organisations offering disruptive solutions and products that fit outside of the themes, such as innovation in finance, cybersecurity, or education.

    Eligible NI start-ups must be 36 months old or less and have raised less than £100,000 (in terms of grants, funds and investment) to enter. 

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    Up to 14 start-ups will be shortlisted and selected to take part in the event, where they will pitch virtually to a panel of industry experts. The overall winning start-up will be awarded a £2,000 cash prize during the event's final session.

    Shortlisted start-ups must be available to deliver a 3-4 minute pitch to a panel of judges between 6pm and 7.45pm on 14 April so that their pre-recorded pitch can be viewed as part of the LEVELUP event on the 21 or 22 April.

    Up to two founders/senior team members can take part in the pitch and answer questions from the judges.

    These team representatives must also be available to join a live Zoom session currently scheduled for 3.40pm - 4.10pm on 22 April, when the LEVELUP startup winner will be announced. 

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    Pitch applications close at 11.59pm 10 April 2021 and start-ups may also be shortlisted by Startacus before this final date.

    Shortlisting decisions are final and any start-ups who miss the application closing date will only be invited to pitch if pitching slots become available.

    Applications can be made here where you can also review the competition's full terms and conditions. 

    Those interested can also reach out directly to Alastair Cameron, Co-founder at Startacus via to discuss applying. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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