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The University of Southampton
Careers, Employability and Student Enterprise

Student Enterprise Fund

Student Enterprise Fund

Do you want to start your own business? Do you need funding? Then apply to the Student Enterprise Fund for up to £2000 in equity free funding.  
The Student Enterprise Team run two rounds of funding each academic year. One in the first semester and one in the second semester. These funding initiatives aim to support students at the University of Southampton, as well as recent graduates, in the development of early-stage ideas through to more established businesses, via the awarding of funding prizes. 

The Student Enterprise Fund is designed to support a broad range of early-stage businesses and social enterprises. Whether you have an early-stage business a brand-new idea, or want to explore freelancing, the Student Enterprise Fund could award you up to £2000 in prize funding to take it forward and make it a reality! 

If you are interested in applying for the Student Enterprise, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the team to give your application the best chance of success!

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We strongly recommend all those interested in applying read all the information below in full.

The first phase of the application process consists of an online application form. You will need to record a pitch video for your application to be considered.  

  • Record a video pitch (max 2 minutes - further details on the application form)
  • Upload your video pitch to any online video sharing platform and include the link in your application form
  • Complete and submit your application form before the deadline
  • Successfully shortlisted candidates of phase one will be invited to a panel where they will be expected to present their business/social enterprise idea
  • Students will have five minutes to pitch, and this will be followed by up to ten minutes of Q&A from the panel.

If you are not successful in being invited to panel you can still receive a small level of funding based on the strength of your online application and pitch video. So, it is important you take your time with the application process.

The Student Enterprise Fund can assist you in the development of your business or social enterprise, for example, if you need to travel, invest in market research, or develop a prototype (app, website, product, etc.). The funding may be used to help you progress from a solid business idea into a viable and tested business model, or alternatively the funds may go towards developing an existing business. The funding can also be used for training development opportunities to enhance your skills and put you in the best place to be able to run a successful business/social enterprise.  

Funding is available to undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and postgraduate research students (as well as those who have graduated within the 12 months preceding each funding round). Students can apply as individuals, a partnership or group. If applying as a partnership or group, please complete a single application and assign a lead applicant. If unsuccessful, you will receive full feedback. 

Applicants for the Student Enterprise Fund should be: 

  • Exploring a business or social enterprise idea
  • Validating an idea and establishing that there is a demand for the product/service
  • Prototyping and testing a minimum viable product
  • Looking to move into freelancing
  • Intending to scale a small-scale business or social enterprise

Please also note that international students with Student visa* immigration permission are not permitted to engage in business activity in the UK whilst they are studying on a Student Visa. For guidance on what you can and cannot do on a general Student Visa* please visit the government website.

*Note: The term 'Student Visa' refers to both the Tier 4 (general) visa and also the new Student visa, which replaced the Tier 4 (general) visa on Monday 5 October 2020. 

  • Students must have a genuine, credible business/social enterprise idea that they are committed to advancing
  • The University does not expect any equity in return for awarding this competition funding
  • The judging panel’s decision is final and there is no right to appeal their decision
  • Students who receive funding through these opportunities may apply to future rounds for additional funding, so long as they produce evidence of successful spend, impact of the previous funding awarded, and can demonstrate realistic projections based on the further funding required
  • The Student Enterprise Team will work with you to help support the development of your business or social enterprise
  • You will be encouraged to attend relevant enterprise support events and activities through the academic year, to help you grow your business and/or social enterprise knowledge and understanding
  • Successful students will be expected to support and contribute to student enterprise and entrepreneurship development events at the University, sharing the challenges and successes of their business and/or social enterprise experiences, to aid in the development of other students
  • The University will monitor the impact of the funds it has awarded to successful applicants, during the course of which you will be expected to share relevant information with the University We are very fortunate to receive the sponsorship from Santander Universities in order to support the Student Enterprise Fund. As part of the competition process you will be asked to sign up to the Santander X platform.

If you have any questions, please contact the Student Enterprise Team via  

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