A school tech project has royal approval after a pair of 14-year-old girls won the Duke of York’s prestigious Pitch@Palace 8.0 competition with their Internet of Things fridge app.

Bristol schoolgirls Siena Jackson-Wolfe and India Garret-Cox took top spot at St James’ Palace after 11 tech start-ups pitched to a room full of influencers including CEOs, investors and mentors.

Their Eat Me App connects a person’s phone to their fridge, sending an alert when food goes off, and aims to tackle food waste.

“Our app is an IOT solution to transform the relationship between the consumer and the amount of food they waste in their homes,” Jackson-Wolfe told BusinessCloud before the successful pitch.

Garret-Cox continued: “The app is connected to a scanner, which is secured inside your fridge. The scanner is portable it can be moved to the bread bin or a cupboard. You scan the product and the data is sent to the app and will alert you when it’s about to go off.

“It can also suggest recipes by looking at the contents of your fridge to make sure the carrots at the back of your fridge get used.”

PODCAST: Wayra Fair By Design opening

The Eat Me App journey began in 2015, a year after the girls first met at Redland Green School.

“We did it as part of National Science Week in school and we had a project at the beginning of year 8 where we had to design a solution to an environmental problem: we chose food waste as it’s a problem affecting everyone,” said Garret-Cox. “It’s something we’re really passionate about.

“We then went to the Big Bang Fair, which is a competition where schoolchildren from around the UK pitch to judges. We won the UK junior engineers of the year award there.

“To get to the competition in Birmingham we’d had to get support from local companies in Bristol WebStart, Engine Shed and Watershed. Our school didn’t have the money to get us there.”

The eighth Pitch@Palace competition was themed 'the future of mobility and materials' and featured businesses exploring the impact that tech in the mobility and connectivity sectors can have on our everyday lives.

“It was kind of spur of the moment to enter,” said Jackson-Wolfe. “We weren’t sure up to the last minute if we should enter or not: we didn’t whether our ages would be a problem.

“We then arrived at the Pitch@Palace Bootcamp in T-shirts and jeans and everyone else was in suits. We were terrified – but we had to try and sell our idea and show that our age shouldn’t affect how they saw us.”

Garret-Cox added: “We arrived here in a taxi and got out at the palace – that’s insane!

“But we’re now looking to get food industry partners and investment to help make prototypes.”

See the girls' full pitch from 1:17:00 in the video below

Second place in the competition went to By Miles, a real-time pay-per-mile car insurer. Zap and Go, which is looking to improve charge time and battery life in the electric vehicle market, was third.

The People’s Choice Award, voted for by the public from the 43 finalists that took part in the Pitch@Palace bootcamp, went to QuitGenius, an app which uses cognitive behavioural therapy to help smokers quit.

Entries for Pitch@Palace 9.0 – themed on 'data, intelligence, and the future of security' – are now open, with the pitching competition set to take place in April 2018. You can enter here. 

Boot Camp for entrepreneurs who get through the regional finals in Pitch@Palace 9.0 will be held at Manchester University on 13th March.

Enjoy extra content and interactive videos in the interactive digital magazine below

E-edition cover