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The University of Southampton
Careers and Employability Service

SEED Startup and Accelerate Funds

SEED/Accelerate Funds

Want to start your own business or social enterprise but need funding to take it forward? Do you already run one but need the resources to grow? Then apply for our SEED and Accelerate funding prizes! 
The Student Enterprise Team run two rounds of SEED and Accelerate funding prizes 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. 
Eligible applicants to the June rounds of the SEED and Accelerate Funds can also be considered for Engineers in Business Competition, with an additional chance to win prizes of £500, £1000 and £1500. See the below tab for more information. 
We encourage all students who are interested in applying for funding to book a 1:1 appointment with the Student Enterprise Team before applying to check your eligibility. The judging process is supported by representation from Future Worlds, the Social Impact Lab and Santander Universities

Semester 1Semester 2
Applications open Friday 14 October 2021 Applications open Thursday 24 March 2022
Applications close Wednesday 1 December 2021 Applications close Sunday 29 May 2022

Student Enterprise SEED Fund

Funding available: £200-£2500

The Student Enterprise SEED 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 self-employment, the SEED Startup Fund could award you up to £2500 in prize funding to take it forward and make it a reality! 

If you apply for this fund but we feel you are more suited for the Accelerate Fund, then the panel may suggest your application is switched to the Accelerate Fund stream (see below). 

Accelerate Fund

Funding available: Up to £6000

The Accelerate fund, supported by Santander Universities, is designed to assist the growth of existing businesses or the launch of high-potential startups.  If you have an existing business and are looking to expand, or if you have a startup idea that requires money to scale, then the Accelerate Fund could award you prize funding of up to £6000! 
The Accelerate Fund is generously supported by our partner, Santander Universities. 

If you apply for this fund but we feel you are more suited for the SEED Fund, then the panel may suggest your application is switched to the SEED Fund stream. 

The Accelerate Fund application process is through the SantanderX platform, but is managed by the University of Southampton Student Enterprise team.

If you are interested in applying for the Accelerate Fund please book a 1:1 appointment with the team for further information on how you can apply.

The SEED/Accelerate Funds can assist you in the development of your business startup 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 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. 

To explore other startup 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 (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 SEED Fund should be: 

  • Exploring and investigating an 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  

Applicants for the Accelerate Fund should be: 

  • Testing their developed prototype, with a clearly validated market opportunity 
  • At the PreLaunch stage (for scalable startups only) 
  • At the Launch stage (for scalable startups only) 
  • At the Growth/Scale stages (for existing businesses that are already trading) 

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 SEED and Accelerate prize funds can be used for a number of different purposes. 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 to take place. 

For businesses at a later stage, uses could be for things such as advanced prototyping, venture establishment/implementation or initial stock supply. The allocation of prizes will be dependent on the strength of the justification for the funds (judged through initial application and panel assessment). 

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

  • 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 startup 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 startup 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 offer the Accelerate Fund. 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  

  • 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 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. 

The University of Southampton is very fortunate to be part of the Engineers in Business Competition. The Engineers in Business Fellowship (EIBF) is a registered charity that promotes the importance and value of business education for engineers in order to improve people’s lives and the performance of the UK and global economies. Engineering students or teams of students from the University of Southampton have the chance to be awarded up to £1500 of funding from EIBF to reward engineers who develop groundbreaking ideas that could solve real problems in society. 

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
  • Opportunity to Compete in the National Final:
  • 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
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