Cranfield School of Management are delighted to announce that we will be the host for the first virtual European Business Plan of the Year Competition (EBPYC) at the end of June 2021.

The EBPYC was jointly created by INSEAD and London Business School in 1993 to encourage the teaching of entrepreneurship and the creation of new ventures. After ten editions, it became an independent foundation jointly owned by the participating schools. The foundation is run by a board consisting of faculty members of the participating business schools.

Each school selects for the competition one business plan for a new business, prepared by current MBA or MSc students and then present it to panels of investors. Current students include those enrolled during the current academic year either on a full or part-time basis. The size of a team is limited to a maximum of 4/5 students.

Participating schools


Friday 25 June 2021 (BST)
10:00 – 10:30 Welcome and introduction
10:30 – 11:30 Elevator pitches
11:30 – 12:30 Lunch break & judges briefing
12:30 – 15:30 Presentations and Q&A:
Stream 1 (Chair: Martin Spiller)
Stream 2 (Chair: Vasilis Theoharakis) 
15:45 – 16:15 Judges evaluation meeting
16:15 – 17:45 Judges providing feedback:                               
Stream 1 (Chair: Martin Spiller)
Stream 2 (Chair: Vasilis Theoharakis)  
17:45 – 18:00
15 minute break
18:00 – 18:45 Panel discussion –
Raising funds for early stage ventures:
An entrepreneurs and investor perspective
18:45 – 19:30
Virtual networking and some fun
19:15 – 19:30 Announcing the finalists

Saturday 26 June 2021 (BST)
09:45 – 10:00 Briefing of finalist judges
09:45 – 10:00 Submission of slides of all finalists
10:00 – 11:30 Finalists presentations (Teams 1-3)
11:30 – 11:45 15 minute break
11:45 – 13:15 Finalists presentations (Teams 4-6)   
13:15 – 14:15 Lunch and judges’ evaluation meeting
13:15 – 14:00 Keynote speaker: Dan George
From MBA to FinTech Entrepreneur:
The story of StepEx
Dan George
14:00 – 14:30 Award ceremony

Important deadlines

When completing your submission via email to, please send the slide deck in PDF format (maximum file size 34MB) along with a 250 word abstract by 18 June. Teams will be able to make edits and updates to their slide decks between submission and the competition date if they wish to do so.

Participating Schools

  • Alba Graduate Business School, The American College of Greece
  • Cranfield University
  • EMLyon
  • IESE
  • Imperial
  • London Business School
  • Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
  • SDA Bocconi
  • Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship
  • Vlerick Business School (Ghent)
  • WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Awards & Judges

1st place (Overall best business pitch and idea) €3,000

2nd place (Overall best business pitch and idea) €1,500

3rd place (Overall best business pitch and idea) €500

Best elevator pitch €500

Sustainability prize €1,500

Alison Cooper

Alison Cooper

Entrepreneur and CEO of Alicia J Diamonds

As an entrepreneur and natural innovator, I find creative solutions to gaps in the market. My skill is in seeing what needs to be done, then expertly leading a team and business to success. My latest project is Alicia J Diamonds, a bespoke diamond and gemstone jewellery service which offers exceptional personal service. I started the company after noticing that clients who needed high-quality diamond engagement rings didn’t know where to start or who to trust. Previously, I was the founder and managing director of a global onboard service solutions company in the aviation sector, which I sold in 2017 to dnata (part of the Emirates Group). I’m passionate about solving business problems through creative thinking and particularly keen to support fellow entrepreneurs on the way up.

Al Keck

Al Keck

Founder & CEO

Al has worked closely with leading brands such as Reader’s Digest, Rapha, eBay, Graham & Green, Weird Fish, Cass Art, and Trekwear to name a few. By partnering with his clients he has planned, implemented and redeveloped their online marketing strategies to make them work smarter, propelling their overall online revenue and ROI.

Through Al’s digital leadership, Infinity Nation has received a number of awards. Most recently, Infinity Nation won the Digital Performance Award at the Direct Commerce Innovator Awards 2019.

But it’s not all work and no play. Al also regularly contributes to the community. He has raised over £14K for Winston’s Wish, Parkinson’s UK, United Foundation, and a local primary school by participating in charity cycles. Al is also a regular sailor − competing whenever he can in between time with his son and daughter.

Gita Petkevica

Gita Petkevica

Founder and CEO of Opal Transfer Ltd

Gita is an ambitious and accomplished entrepreneur being among very few female business owners in the UK fintech market. At age of 25, after completing a master’s degree in Finance from the University of Latvia, she founded Opal Transfer with only £5,000 and she grew the business organically to over £100m in annual recurring revenues without any external finance.

Opal Transfer was founded to help expatriate workers in the UK to support their families whilst working abroad. The aim was to provide customers with fast, safe and cost-efficient international money transfers across Europe and Gita’s persistence, dedication and customer centric approached helped take the business from a start up to an established business which has serviced over 1m people since launch!

Gita is a great believer in success driven by psychology and the right mindset. She is also a strong believer in team building and focussing on team spirit and she still handpicks new team members of Opal herself. When she is not busy with personal development, Gita loves the outdoors and sports such as wakeboarding and snowboarding.

Greg Ellison

Greg Ellison

CEO of Capital International Group

Greg is a seasoned senior executive with 25 years’ experience in the Financial Services sector in the UK and overseas. Greg is the CEO of Capital International Group, an investment management and online trading company with offices in the Isle of Man and South Africa. Since 2017 he has been working to build a new digital corporate bank which will launch in June 2021. Earlier in his career, Greg was the Managing Director for Barclays Wealth and led over 1,000 staff across the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. He then spent five years with Boston Group as CEO, where he successfully spearheaded their development from a small trust company into a leading Multi-Family Office in the Isle of Man, Malta and United Arab Emirates.

Greg holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Studies, an MBA from Henley Business School, is a Fellow and Chartered Director at the Institute of Directors and completed the Corporate Valuations course at the Said Business School. Greg has twice been recognised as one of the ‘Top 50 Most Influential’ in financial services by ePrivateClient.

Ion Tsakonas

Ion Tsakonas

CEO of Piraeus Equity Partners

Ion Tsakonas is a seasoned investor with experience across public and private markets. He is heading Piraeus Equity Partners, the PE/VC arm of Piraeus Bank in Athens. His expertise spans technology, healthcare, renewable energy, sustainability and education.

Before PEP, Ion started NewSchool Athens, a media education non, profit, Global Eco Rescue, a sustainable financing developer and Octavian Advisors as an investment analyst.  He started his career an investment banking analyst with Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette and Deutsche Bank. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania and an MENG in Engineering Economics and Managment from the University of Oxford.

John Readman

John Readman

Founder and CEO of Mode25

John is a serial entrepreneur, currently he is founder and CEO of Modo25 and founded Ride25 which now has a management team running the business.  He has grown several global digital marketing agencies and marketing technology businesses.

John’s day-to-day role involves driving the vision of Modo25 forward. He is passionate about people and creating an environment which will enable the team to deliver the best possible work for our clients.

John loves to spend time with his family, on his Friday off work he enjoys watching his daughters Lottie and Heidi play hockey or netball. He is a keen cyclist who, with a group of friends, is cycling from Leeds to Australia with Ride25 (John’s cycling holiday/event business) to raise money for 1moreChild. He loves skiing, walking, supporting England rugby and is a passionate Leeds United Fan.

Martin Rigby

Martin Rigby

Founder and Managing Director of ET Capital

Martin Rigby is founder and managing director of ET Capital, a Cambridge based venture capital firm managing a series early-stage technology funds. He is also chairman of FSE Group a regional fund management group operating across southern England with assets under management of more than £150M.

He was a non-executive director of Bango plc, the AIM quoted mobile payments and data platform for over 12 years, and was co-founder and CEO of Psonar, a streaming music service operating in SE Asia. He read history for his first degree at New College, Oxford, completed an MBA at Cranfield University and has a degree in IT and Computing from The Open University.

Nigel Grierson

Nigel Grierson

Nigel has 20-years’ operating experience in the IT industry with positions in product development, marketing and senior management, and, 20 years’ experience as Managing Director of venture capital funds managing investments of $700 million in 70 technology start-up companies across Europe and delivering substantial investor returns. Nigel also has a career-long track record of developing high performance management teams, marketing strategy development and has substantial board director experience.

Nigel currently provides independent advisory services to start-up companies and fund managers. He is also a lecturer at Invest Europe delivering the Board Masterclass course.

Qualifications in engineering, telecommunications, studied at Insead and is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments.

Olly Swanton

Olly Swanton

“After 24 years building and growing marcomms companies across the world – and selling my first agency, Way To Blue when it employed 100 people across 7 counties – it turns out I might be a little bit addicted to start-up.

I work with people who inspire me. I enjoy supporting them with commercial direction and financial oversight, helping them deliver bold growth plans and supporting their day to day client servicing and operational needs.”

Stella Donoghue


Stella was in the 99/00 full time MBA cohort, and went on to have a varied career in Finance Director and Managing Director roles within fast growth, private equity backed businesses.

Having sold a pharmaceutical tech enabled services business to private equity for the third time, Stella stepped down from full time roles to take on a more varied portfolio. As well as being an Operating Partner for the Bridgepoint Growth fund (Bridgepoint is a major international private equity group), she has a number of Chair and Non Executive Director positions in private equity backed businesses. Stella regularly mentors students on business start up weekends. As a hobby, Stella is a prolific property investor, which all started when she bought a house local to Cranfield for her MBA year!

“The value of the Cranfield MBA grew over time, and it has definitely enhanced my career. I am delighted to be able to give some time and expertise back to the school now, and to see the positive changes which have been made in recent years”.

Stepan Galaev

Alison Cooper

Founder of Galaev & Co

Founder of Galaev & Co, a venture capital and angel investor portfolio management company. Identified the growing demand for portfolio management services in the angel investment community while working on the investment portfolio of renowned UK angel investors – Nick Jenkins, Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani. Stepan is also a non-executive director: Growthdeck, Splento and Dashly, and a Cranfield School of Management alumni.”