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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? Have you started one? Do you need funding? Then apply to the Student Enterprise Fund for equity free prize funding! 

The Student Enterprise Funds are designed to support a broad range of early-stage businesses and social enterprises. Whether you have an early-stage business, brand-new idea, want to explore freelancing or lead your own social enterprise, the Student Enterprise Fund could award you between £500 to £5,000 in prize funding to take it forward and make it a reality! 

During the academic year 23/24 the Student Enterprise fund will have three funding paths you can apply for:

1. START Pathway - NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

Apply for £500 to kick start your business. 2 x calls per academic year: autumn & summer terms

Suitable for students wanting to further explore or validate an idea or get started with launching their business or social enterprise.

2. BUILD Pathway -NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

Apply for £1,000 or £2,000 towards building your business. 2 x calls per academic year: autumn & summer terms

Suitable for students who have validated their idea with customers and need essential funds to launch,  or build or accelerate their business.

3. GROW Pathway - Re-opens next academic year 

Apply for £3,000- £5,000 towards growing or scaling your business. 1 x call per academic year: spring semester only

Suitable for businesses with demonstrated traction, that need essential funds to grow or accelerate their business.

The Grow Pathway is supported by Santander.

 

The Engineers In Business Competition (EIBC) - APPLY THROUGH YOUR BUILD APPLICATION FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING PRIZES

Awards prizes of £1500, £1000, and £500 to the first, second, and third placed applicants to the Student Enterprise Fund – BUILD Pathway who study engineering or a related degree subject such as computer or biomedical science. 
 
Winners of the University of Southampton EIBC prizes, are eligible to apply for the EIBC Champion of Champions Grand Final, where the best of the best from universities across the country enter their innovations and compete for a share of a £16,000 prize pot, mentors and other prizes. 
 
Over the last 2 years we have had three businesses go through to this grand final hosted at the Royal Academy of Engineering. 
 
In 2023, the main Big Ideas prize of £3,000 plus mentoring was won by Meta Futura Aerospace from the University of Southampton, which also picked up the in-show Audience Prize of £500. Their MetaFlex innovation is a ground-breaking attitude and orbit control system designed for space organisations, satellite operators and research institutions. 
 
In 2022, the Big Ideas first prize of £3,000 plus People’s Vote and Audience Vote Prizes of £1,000 were awarded to Amara Automotive from the University of Southampton. Amara’s Elecy is a four-wheeled, weatherproof e-bike, offering crash protection, that focuses on minimising emissions during both the production and operation stages, and allows for upgrading rather than replacement. 
 
Furthermore, the Startup Business runner-up prize of £1,500 was awarded to AMRSS from the University of Southampton: AMRSS provides AI solutions for real-time aerodynamic performance analysis, to enable engineers within the automotive, aerospace and renewables sectors to improve decision-making throughout the design, test, and deployment stages. 

1. START

Prizes: £500 APPLY NOW - Click here to enter

2. BUILD

Prizes: £1,000, £2,000 APPLY NOW - Click here to enter

Both the START Pathway and the BUILD Pathway will run twice across the academic year 23/24, in both the autumn and summer semesters. The Santander GROW Pathway will only run once, in the spring semester.

These funding pathways aim to support students at the University of Southampton, as well as recent graduates (up to 18-months post-graduation), in the development of early-stage ideas through to more established businesses, via the awarding of funding prizes.

Please note: Only Students who are legally allowed to start their own business in UK are eligible to apply for these funding pathways (Students studying on a Student Visa are not eligible to apply, unless they are EU Citizens with Settled or Pre-Settled Status)

If you are interested in applying for the START, BUILD or GROW Pathways, or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

Booking a 1:1 with the Student Enterprise team will give your application the best chance of success!

Book a 1:1 with the Student Enterprise Team

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

This pathway is suitable for students at a very early stage in their entrepreneurial journey. It is most suited to students wanting to explore or validate a new business idea, freelancing or social enterprise, or students needing funding to kick start or launch their business activities. It may also be suitable for providing essential cash-flow for existing early-stage small businesses.

At a minimum, students applying for the START Pathway must be able to provide secondary evidence of the market opportunity and articulate plans to validate the business opportunity further through customer research. 

Example use of START Pathway prizes might include: market research, developing a prototype, launching a website, business software or administrative costs, essential equipment, initial stock, marketing materials, training to upskill your team, conferences and much more.

If you are interested in applying for the START Pathway or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

This pathway is suitable for students who already have strong validation of their business idea, demonstrated through customer research or initial traction. This pathway may provide essential funds to help students launch, build or accelerate their business.

At a minimum, students applying for the BUILD pathway must demonstrate the viability of their opportunity through market and customer research and/or initial traction. They must also demonstrate clear progress and commitment to their business or social enterprise to date.

Example uses of prize funding awarded via the BUILD pathway might include: product development, essential equipment, software, raw materials, stock, marketing costs, business administration costs, professional development and much more.

If you are interested in applying for the BUILD Pathway or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

This pathway is suitable for students who have launched a business and have initial customer traction. This pathway may provide essential funds to help students grow or accelerate their business.

At a minimum, students applying for the GROW pathway must demonstrate the viability of their business, through customer research AND initial customer traction; be able to clearly communicate their business model and go-to-market strategy; and have a robust understanding of the risks and challenges for their business. Demonstrated progress and commitment to their business or social enterprise to date is also essential.

Example uses of prize funding awarded via the GROW pathway might include: essential equipment, raw materials, stock, software, marketing costs, legal costs, professional development and much more.

If you are interested in applying for the GROW Pathway or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

To apply for any one of the 3 funding pathways, you will first need to complete an online application form. Please click on the relevant fund above to be directed to the relevant application form.

In addition to the application form, you will also 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 (see key dates below)

 For applicants to the GROW Pathway (Spring 24):

  • Short-listed candidates, based on the application form and video pitch, will be in invited to a panel interview, where they will be expected to present their business/social enterprise idea.
  • Students invited to panel will have three minutes to pitch, and this will be followed by up to ten minutes of Q&A from the panel.  

For applicants to the START Pathway (Summer 24/Autumn 24):

  • Funding decisions will be based on the application form and the video pitch.

For applicants to the BUILD Pathway (Summer 24/Autumn 24):

  • Short-listed candidates, based on the application form and video pitch, will be in invited to a panel interview, where they will be expected to present their business/social enterprise idea.

Students invited to panel will have three minutes to pitch, and this will be followed by up to ten minutes of Q&A from the panel.  

Expectations for the Panel Interviews (BUILD & GROW Pathways):

Applicants will be short-listed based on the strength of their application form video pitch. Unsuccessful applicants, who do not make the short-list will be notified at this stage.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to panel and asked to create a three minute pitch presentation. The presentation should provide a concise business overview. Further details of what the presentation is expected to include will be provided in your Panel invite email.

Following your presentation there will be approximately 10 minutes for questions from the Panel.

Panel interviews will be held on-line via Microsoft Teams. Please contact the Student Enterprise Team at studententerprise@soton.ac.uk with any accessibility requirements or concerns.

If you are interested in applying for the START, BUILD or GROW Pathway or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

GROW Pathway – Spring 2024

  • This will open again next Spring

START Pathway - Summer 2024

  • Applications open: Monday 22 April 
  • Applications close: Midnight Sunday 2 June

BUILD Pathway – Summer 2024

  • Applications open: Monday 22 April
  • Applications close: Midnight Sunday 2 June
  • Panel dates: Monday 17 to Thursday 20 June

If you are interested in applying for the START, BUILD or GROW Pathways, or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

Applicants for the Student Enterprise START or BUILD pathways should:

  • Be exploring a business/social enterprise idea, or be interested in going freelance or be running an existing business/social enterprise/freelance service
  • Have already validated your idea through market and/or customer research*

*Applicants for the START pathway must, at a minimum, be able to provide secondary evidence of the market opportunity

*Applicants for the BUILD pathway must, at a minimum, be able to provide evidence of customer research and/or initial traction. 

* Applicants for the GROW Pathway must, at a minimum, be able to provide evidence of the viability of their business, through both customer research AND initial customer traction. 

Please note: International students studying on a Student Visa are not eligible for funding via the START or BUILD Pathways. 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. 

Funding is available to undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and postgraduate research students (as well as those who have graduated within the 18 months preceding each funding round).

  • START and BUILD Pathway funding is available to students who have graduated within the 18 months preceding each funding round.
  • GROW Pathway funding is available to students who have graduated within the 36 months preceding each GROW pathway 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.

Students who have previously received funding from the Student Enterprise Fund pathways are eligible to apply to future rounds for additional funding, within the following parameters:

  • Students must provide evidence of successful spend, impact of the previous funding awarded and can demonstrate realistic projections based on the further funding required.
  • Students can win up to a maximum £1k per year and up to £2k across multiple years for the same business via the START Fund pathway.
  • Students can win up to a maximum of £4k per year and up to a total of £4k across multiple years for the same business via the BUILD Pathway. 
  • Students can win up to a maximum total of £10k across multiple years for the same business, across all three funding pathways. 

If you are interested in applying for the START, BUILD or GROW Pathway or have any questions regarding eligibility or appropriateness for your business, please book a 1:1 appointment with a member of the Student Enterprise team.

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