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The University of Southampton
Careers and Employability Service

SEED Startup Fund

SEED Startup Fund

The Student Enterprise Team run the SEED Startup Fund with additional representation on the judging panel from Future Worlds, the Social Impact Lab, Santander Universities. The competition aims to support students at the University in the creation and development of early stage businesses or social enterprises, through to more developed ideas, via the awarding of funding ‘prizes’.

The SEED Startup Fund is generously supported by our partner, Northrop Grumman.

A total of £40,000 is available over the two funding rounds.

Two funding rounds take place each academic year, for 2020-21 the funding panels will be in December 2020 and June 2021.

June Round - Applications for the June round of funding will open on Monday 12 April, closing at 23:59 on Sunday 6 June.

To be notified via e-mail when applications are open and when the deadline is approaching, subscribe to the Student Enterprise Event Notifications.

We encourage all applicants for this scheme to book a 1:1 appointment with the Student Enterprise Team before applying to check that the correct funding stream is being selected.

Our SEED Startup Fund is split into 3 different streams, dependent on the stage of development that your business is at. Please read through the below information before submitting your application to ensure you apply for the stream most appropriate for you.

Student SEED Kicker Fund - Up to £2500

Funding Amount: Up to £2500

Application Deadline: No deadline. This funding can be applied for at any time in the year.

Suitable for businesses:

  • That require urgent funding outside of the time constraints of the standard funding rounds (UoS Student Enterprise SEED Fund and UoS Student Startup Accelerate fund).
  • Where the funding should be required for a specific purpose and have a demonstratable impact, for example, a time critical opportunity to demo to a high value customer.

Applicants to the UoS Student SEED Kicker Fund will ideally be already known to or engaging with Student Enterprise, Future Worlds or Social Impact Lab. All applicants will need need to arrange a conversation with the Student Enterprise Team (book here) to explore the specific circumstances and then following this a formal application can be made to the Fund and assessed by the funding panel.

Student Enterprise SEED Fund - £200-£2500

Funding Amount: £200-£2500

Application Deadline: 6 June 2021

Suitable for businesses at the stage of:

  • Exploration phase, investigating a new business idea (e.g market research.
  • Validation – Proving demand through test marketing etc.
  • Prototype/Testing – MVP and prototype building.
  • Freelance businesses – For individuals setting up infrastructure for a freelance profession.
  • Hobby/Craft/Small scale businesses/social enterprises – Established small businesses wishing to scale.

The Student Enterprise SEED Fund is designed to support a broad range of early stage businesses and social enterprises. If you apply for this fund but are in fact more suited for the Startup Accelerate Fund, supported by Santander Universities, then the panel may suggest your application is switched to the UoS Startup Accelerate Fund channel.

Student Enterprise Accelerate Fund, supported by Santander Universities - Up to £6000

Funding Amount: Up to £6000

Application Deadline: 6 June 2021

Suitable for businesses at the stage of:

  • Prototype developed and further testing required, with market opportunity clearly identified.
  • PreLaunch (scalable startup only) e.g., Tech application with considerable R&D requirement.
  • Launch (scalable startup only) e.g., Completed market ready product/service.
  • Growth/Scale (business already trading with significant revenue).

The Student Enterprise Accelerate fund, supported by Santander Universities, is designed to support the growth of existing small businesses or the launch of high-potential startups. If you apply for this fund and your business is not deemed suitable, it will be suggested that your application is switched to the Student Enterprise SEED fund.

Engineers in Business Competition (EIBC) - £500-£1500

Funding Amount: £500, £1000 and £1500 awards

Application Deadline: 6 June 2021

The University of Southampton is very fortunate to be part of the Engineers in Business Competition, funded by the Lord Sainsbury’s Charitable Trust. Engineering students or teams of students from the University of Southampton have the chance to be awarded up to £1500 of funding to support in the creation of a start-up business.

Teams can be multidisciplinary, however, your team must include at least one engineering student/graduate/postgraduate. Your business idea does not need to be linked to engineering.

The Engineers in Business Fund will also provide the following support to winning teams/individuals:

  • Mentoring: The overall winning team (or individual) in each university competition/module may apply to Engineers in Business Fellowship to be assigned a Sainsbury Management Fellow as a mentor to provide support for a period of time agreed between the mentor and mentee.
  • Promotional Support: Engineering graduates are of special value, to be celebrated and supported, especially when it comes to being made aware of the opportunities that business skills offer and the way that employers view these skill sets.  Engineers in Business Fellowship will help to promote the winners of the Engineers in Business prizes.
  • Business Support Services for Entrepreneurs: The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed is providing winners of the national final one year’s free membership to a wide range of advice and support services to help launch a business.
  • Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The inspiring textbook, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Cambridge University Press, will be presented to each winner at the national Final.

Discuss your application

Book a 1:1 appointment with the Student Enterprise team to discuss your application, or for more information on the application process

Apply now

Submit your application for the Student Enterprise SEED and Accelerate Funds

The SEED Startup Fund can assist you in the development of your business start-up or social enterprise, for example, if you need to travel, invest in market research, or to 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 small business.

Within your application it is important to explicitly state what stage you will reach with your business/social enterprise if you are successful in being awarded this funding. If successful at the application stage, you will be invited to meet with a panel to pitch your idea and this will also involve a short Q&A session.

"The SEED Startup Fund is a pioneering platform which encourages students to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions through the provision of a risk free funding route. The lessons learned through the entrepreneurial process provide tangible value to the students for their future careers, regardless of their final destination."

Sarah Rogers, Head of Student Enterprise

To explore other start up funding opportunities available to you at the University to help support you in developing a business or social enterprise please check the Opportunities page.

Funding is available to undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and postgraduate research students (and those who have graduated within the last 12 months). 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.

Please also note that international students with Student visa* immigration permission are not permitted to engage in business activity in the UK. 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.

The prize fund, provided by Santander, can be used for a number of different applications. For earlier stage businesses it might enable such things as appropriate testing to be undertaken to ensure business viability or alternatively it might enable pre-trading tasks such as market research, idea validation, and prototyping.

For businesses at a later stage, uses could be for things such as advanced prototyping, venture establishment/implementation or initial stock supply.

A total of £30,000 is available over the two funding rounds. The allocation of prizes will be dependent on the strength of the justification for the funds (judged through initial application and panel assessment).

  • 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, Future Worlds and/or Social Impact Lab will work with you to help support the development of your business start-up or social enterprise, and will help find suitable mentoring opportunities where appropriate.
  • You will be encouraged to attend relevant enterprise support events and activities through the academic year, in order 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 start-up 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 strongly recommend all those interested in applying read all of the information above in full.

We are very fortunate to receive the sponsorship from Santander in order to offer this Santander Accelerate scheme. As part of the competition process, a Santander representative will be reviewing applications, attending the pitching and sitting on the judging panel.

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

Step-by-step how to apply:

1. Record a video pitch (max 2 minutes - further details on the application form).

2. Upload your video pitch to any online video sharing platform and include the link in your application form.

3. Complete and submit your application form before the deadline.

Successfully shortlisted candidates will be expected to present their business/social enterprise idea to a panel, invited. Students will need to provide a 5 minute pitch followed by up to 10 minutes of Q&A. Students may use slides and props to support their pitch.

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