PITCH, a startup competition held annually at Web Summit, Europe’s largest technology conference, brings together the world’s leading early-stage startups for a live on-stage battle. Open to startups exhibiting at Web Summit that have received under €3 million (3.4 USD) in funding and have not had a discernible pivot in their business model in the previous three years, the startup competition attracts global founders with high ambitions.
Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of judges. The top 170 startups battle it out across three days to be crowned the winner of PITCH at Web Summit. For many early-stage startups it is the chance of a lifetime. Founders present in front of a distinguished investor panel, influential media, and global partners.
Logivan, the RISE Pitch Winner of 2018 noted, “Winning PITCH was great for exposing us to international media, investors and big conglomerates. It was a great way for Logivan to raise our profile.” UK startup Wayve has been fortunate enough to secure the honor, after being named the winner of PITCH at Web Summit 2018.
Wayve wins startup PITCH competition
This year’s PITCH competition saw more than 1,000 entries from across the world. Wayve was one of the top 168 startups from 40 countries that were chosen to pitch in front of investors, media and a live audience during the three-day conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
Wayve is an AI company, based in Cambridge, UK that is committed to building a full data-driven driving software stack, which enables a car to drive itself using only the understanding of what it can see. The Cambridge based startup aims to be the first self-driving car company to deploy in 100 cities globally.
Alex Kendall, co-founder of Wayve said “Today’s approaches to autonomy will not scale to society’s demands in the next decade. When you’re developing technology that is so far against the status quo of the world today, it is very easy to be dismissed by group thinkers. We strive to let our technical results speak loudly in an industry of hype. Winning PITCH at Web Summit sends a strong signal to the market as we enter into our next fundraising round and validates that others are as excited as we are about this opportunity.”
PITCH judges Bedy Yang, managing partner at 500 startups, Tom Stafford, managing partner at DST, and Holly Liu, Visiting Partner, Y Combinator said that Wayve stood out as the clear winner this year because of three really important factors; the strength of their team, their market size, and their early evidence of traction.
“For us the judges Wayve had all three. Wayve are doing what all their competitors should be doing. If they can continue to do, what they are aiming to do, they will be huge.” Tom Stafford, managing partner at DST added.
Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit said: ”Choosing an overall winner of PITCH is never easy and this year it was so close but Wayve are deserved winners. Autonomous vehicles are the future of transport. Solutions like Wayve are essential to the the success of the industry and I’m sure they will go on to do great things in this space.”
The future of self-driving technology
Several technology companies and auto manufacturers have invested billions into solving the self-driving car problem over the last decade, with vast teams of engineers, so why aren’t autonomous vehicles on the roads today in a meaningful way?
Wayve believes the industry has been doing too much hand-engineering and too little machine learning. “The missing piece of the self-driving puzzle is intelligent algorithms, not more sensors, rules and maps,” says Wayve Co-Founder and CEO, Amar Shah. “Humans have a fascinating ability to perform complex tasks in the real world, because our brains allow us to learn quickly and transfer knowledge across our many experiences. We want to give our vehicles better brains, not more hardware.”
“Building a self-driving system which can safely drive on roads is too difficult to hand-engineer,” says Wayve Co-Founder and CTO, Alex Kendall. “We’re betting on technology like reinforcement and imitation learning; we think machine learning will provide the breakthrough to deliver autonomous vehicles for everyone, everywhere.”
Wayve has been testing their technology on public UK roads since January 2018.