Two startups which were founded and developed in Leicestershire have been named the winners of one of the UK’s largest student and graduate business pitching competitions.

Snowball, which helps disabled people better access the world around them, won first place in the startups category at the Santander X awards this month.

Whilst Loughborough graduate Joseph Bentley scooped third place for his startup’s life saving device aimed at treating knife and gunshot wounds.

Snowball founder Simon Sansome said:

“The Santander X Awards have been a really tough competition. It’s been months of work and the businesses we were up against were incredible. I’m so grateful that the judges saw what Snowball is and what it can become in the future. With the prize money we can now pay to take on staff in the new year and get them trained up to do Snowball Assessments across the UK.” 

Simon and Joseph were among 12 finalists who pitched to a panel of high-profile judges, including musician, presenter and investor Tinie Tempah, Dame Jess Ennis-Hill, Dragon’s Den star Sam Jones, alongside Santander’s CEO Mike Regnier and Chairman, William Vereker.

Tinie Tempah said:

“I’ve been investing in exciting new companies, including Sam Jones’ Gener8, for years now and there’s nothing like the thrill of discovering the next big idea and helping to give it the boost it needs. Judging the Santander X Awards was a great experience – the entrepreneurs delivered inspiring pitches and I know they’re all going to make an impact. The winners are some truly amazing businesses that have a chance to make a real difference in the world. I’ve learnt the founder and team are probably the most important factor in making a business investable, and these entrepreneurs really have what it takes to wow investors and get some proper momentum behind their ideas.” 

Mike Regnier, Santander UK CEO, said:

“It has been an honour to judge this year’s Santander X Awards alongside an impressive panel of fellow judges with real expertise in entrepreneurship, and to hear from so many exciting entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and with a truly inspiring range of businesses. All the finalists performed expertly, but the six winners delivered outstanding pitches and I look forward to watching their businesses go from strength to strength.”