Tuesday 19 November 2019 5:50 pm

Three more companies ditch sponsorship of Prince Andrew's Pitch@Palace scheme

Three more companies said they would no longer support Prince Andrew’s entrepreneurial scheme Pitch@Palace, a day after KPMG jumped ship.

International banking giant Standard Chartered was the first to pull the plug. A spokesman confirmed: “We won’t be renewing the sponsorship when it ends in February.”

Read more: Corporate sponsors look to desert Prince Andrew’s Pitch@Palace scheme

Later in the afternoon Advertising Week Europe, a global summit of marketing and communications leaders, confirmed it would end its association with the prince. A spokesperson said:

“We are committed to creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to showcase their ground-breaking ideas, which is what initially attracted us to engage with and support Pitch. While our support for entrepreneurs remains just as strong, we can confirm that Advertising Week Europe is no longer involved with Pitch@Palace.”

Tech firm Gravity Road also reportedly cut ties with the scheme, according to the Daily Mail.

On Monday a number of businesses distanced themselves from the initiative in the face of increasing scrutiny over the Duke of York’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

KPMG was the first to end its £100,000-a-year relationship with the project over fears of negative publicity.

Astrazeneca, another sponsor of the programme, said: “Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.”

Insurance firm Aon denied any connection with the scheme, saying that the listing of the firm as a partner was an error. 

The company said it had asked for its logo to be removed from the initiative’s website. The page which showed corporate sponsors has been taken down.

Bond University, on Australia’s Gold Coast, also issued a statement to Nine News saying it would no longer be a part of Pitch@Palace Global:

“Our current agreement with Pitch@Palace Australia finished this year. We have previously said any new agreement would be considered in 2020. However, in light of recent events, the university does not intend to seek any further involvement.”

Another university, Melbourne’s Rmit, also cut ties. Murdoch and Wollongong Universities were also said to be reviewing their links to the programme.

Pitch@Palace, which was set up in 2014, aims to connect entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses with potential supporters, including chief executives and investors.

The project is also supported by easygroup founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou through his charity, The Stelios Foundation. City A.M. understands that the charity has no plans to change the existing relationship. 

Supporters Bosch and Barclays declined to comment.

Other organisations with a connection to the Duke are also reviewing their links.

The Outward Bound Trust, of which the prince is a patron, is understood to be holding a special meeting on the matter later this week.

London Metropolitan University is also reviewing his position. A spokesman for the university said:

“We will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our Patron at the next Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday 26th November.

“The University opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the University’s values.” 

In addition, students at the University of Huddersfield, which counts the duke as its chancellor, are exploring how they could force him out of the role.

Read more: US financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking of young girls

The university has come out in support, saying: “As chancellor, he has taken a keen interest in the work of the university and has represented it in his official capacity on numerous occasions.

“His enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship is a natural fit with the work of the university and every year the University of Huddersfield organises The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Awards, which are promoted across universities throughout the north of England.

“In relation to the allegations, the palace has previously issued an emphatic denial and this was reiterated in the BBC interview with the Duke of York and we have nothing further to add.”

Main image credit: Getty