Eco Social Enterprise Start Up Programme

Do you have an eco social enterprise?

The School for Social Entrepreneurs North West in association with the Blackburn House BEE You Project have announced a practical 6 month startup programme starting in October, aimed to help eco-social enterprises to grow their ventures.

The scheme is open to 16-24 year olds from across the North West with enterprises tackling everyday environmental challenges such as food waste, green energy, community gardening, protection of wild habitats, sustainable fashion and green tech. To apply your idea must be a tested or existing social enterprise that has been running for less than 3 years, making less that £15,000.

Application deadline: 4pm, 23rd July

To find out more and download an application pack click here.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Accelerator

Are you an international student interested in setting up a business in the UK after graduation?

In order to start a business in the UK following graduation you will need to hold a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa allows you to stay in the UK for 12 months to establish and develop a business. This can then be extended for up to 12 months, provided satisfactory progress is being made.

Lancaster University is able to endorse a limited number of new T1 Visa applications each year from students interested in this career path. Each applicant is required to submit a strong business plan outlining how the proposed business idea will operate in the UK.

This summer, to support those interested in applying for a T1 Visa, The Enterprise Team will be running a Disciplined Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme, helping you to fully develop your business idea and write a comprehensive business plan.

You can read more about the accelerator programme here and if you have further questions, please come along to our information session on Thursday 10th May, 3-4:30pm in Learning Zone Pod 4. Let us know you will be attending by booking a space through Target Connect.


UnLtd Awards

Awards to help start and grow your social enterprise

UnLtd offer support for enterprises with a social or environmental aim at the core of what they do. They have two types of awards available at present, for which expression’s of interest close on the 27th March 2018. Although this deadline is soon, award cycles run three times throughout the year, so good to keep in mind for future too!

Do It Awards

For those who want to create social change and would like to start working on an idea. Award includes 1-to-1 support, expert advice and access to resources including some funding.

Grow It Awards

For those who have identified a social issue and are committed to tackling it and have experience relevant to grow a venture. Award includes support to grow your venture and up to £15,000 funding.

For more information on UnLtd awards, visit their website.


Thrive: A Social Accelerator

‘Help your venture to Thrive’

Thrive is a new social accelerator run by UnLtd, aiming to help ambitious social ventures to scale. The programme will include six months of intensive support along with an opportunity to secure up to £50,000 for your venture.

20 social ventures will be supported each year and for their first cohort they are looking specifically for ventures which are working to improve access to employment for those distant from the labour market.

If you would like to find out more about the accelerator or are interested in applying, Cathryn Chrimes from UnLtd will be coming in on Thursday the 15th of March to talk to potential applicants. This information session will take place from 12-2pm in Learning Zone Pod 4. You can also read more about the accelerator online. 

Design Council Spark Product Innovation Fund

Up to £165k available to take inventions to market: apply by Mon 14th Dec 2015


Design Council Spark is a product innovation fund and programme designed to fast-track products to market; enter now with your brilliant ideas at prototype stage.

Following the success of the first round of Spark, Design Council has launched the second wave and the deadline for entries is midnight, Monday 14 December 2015. Design Council Spark is a product innovation fund and 20 week fast-track support programme designed to find the UK’s next great inventions and take them to market. Applicants must be aged 18 or over, based in the UK and have a great product idea, preferably at prototype stage, to apply, however no design or invention experience is necessary.

Successful applicants will be invited to attend a 20 week programme where specialists and mentors will be on hand to provide support and advise inventors on launching their products. Inventors attending the programme will also receive £15k, with the opportunity to pitch for a share of £150k at the end of the programme.

This year, Design Council Spark has a new strand partnering with Arthritis Research UK to offer 3 places on the 20 week programme to those who have designed products to assist those with arthritis, and one inventor will be chosen for an award of £50k to launch their product.

To find out more about the Innovation fund and how to apply, click here.

The Next Billion Dollar Wave In Tech –

Reintroducing the Extreme Tech Challenge – an amazing opportunity for start-ups to network and pitch on Necker Island to secure funding and infrastructure for their businesses.


Read more

Last chance to register for the Summer of Student Innovation 2014… Light bulb moment? Apply by 30 May 2014 for £5k to develop your digital technology idea to improve student life


According to a news release by Jisc, 17 further and higher education (FE and HE) student teams are already registered for this year’s Summer of Student Innovation, hoping for the chance to create technology solutions that could change the education landscape forever.

The Summer of Student Innovation is a Jisc co-design programme with RLUK; RUGIT; SCONUL; UCISA and ALT. Successful entrants will receive a £5,000 grant from Jisc to develop their education technology ideas, with the aim of improving students’ creative design, research, entrepreneurial and project management skills. The teams will also attend a series of nine innovation workshops between July and September.  These events are designed to show off work in progress, offer the opportunity to learn from relevant experts and discuss ideas with other teams.

To enter, students must submit a two to five minute video pitch on the Jisc Elevator website alongside a short summary and a 300-500 word description which includes details on the benefits of their idea and its impact on research and education. To be considered for funding, entrants must hit a target of 250 votes before 30 May 2014. Voting is open to everyone but votes must come from ten different FE and HE institutions.

The winners’ ideas will be showcased later this year to FE and HE IT directors, learning technologists and librarians offering them the chance to learn more about the benefits of these newly-developed technologies.

To enter your ideas and encourage your fellow students to vote for your suggestions visit the Jisc Elevator website or follow #studentideas on Twitter.

Who is Jisc?

Jisc offers digital services and solutions for UK education and research. The charity does this to achieve its vision for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world.

Working together across the higher education, further education and skills sectors, Jisc provides trusted advice and support, reduces sector costs across shared network, digital content, IT services and procurement negotiations, ensuring the sector stays ahead of the game with research and development for the future.

Find out more on the Jisc website

For start up support and advice please contact




StartUp Britain under new ownership and the directorship of Lancaster University Alumnus Matt Smith

start up britain logo

The Centre for Entrepreneurs has taken on the running of the national enterprise campaign, StartUp Britain. In an extract from the campaign’s 2014 report, Centre director, Matt Smith sets out what’s next for the campaign:

‘As a campaigning organisation, StartUp Britain pioneered a range of initiatives to boost public awareness of entrepreneurship, as well as support the growth of early-stage entrepreneurs. Such innovation will continue – building upon the great work done by the founders as they hand the baton on the Centre for Entrepreneurs.

So, what are our plans to continue the campaigning ethos of this great organisation? In short: continuity. The success of StartUp Britain is, in part, thanks to the ongoing support from countless others in the entrepreneurship community. For three years, StartUp Britain has served as a focal point for entrepreneurship resources and initiatives, helping entrepreneurs identify valuable support.

Such partnerships remain critical to StartUp Britain’s continued success, meaning that we will look to deepen and widen our partnering with those delivering inspiration, resources and guidance to entrepreneurs at all stages. And we will also carry on celebrating entrepreneurship by supporting the diverse range of entrepreneur award schemes.

The branding will also remain the same. And the website and social media channels will continue to operate separately from the Centre’s. StartUp Britain will also remain an innovative, engaging and accessible organisation for entrepreneurs and the public alike. It will continue to promote entrepreneurship to the public and generate media coverage for entrepreneurs.

StartUp Britain has achieved a great deal in its three years. Our hope is that as the Centre takes on the running of the campaign, its many supporters and followers will remain involved.

Here’s to the next three years!’

Matt Smith
Director, Centre for Entrepreneurs
Home of StartUp Britain

Matt graduated from Lancaster University in 2008 with a BSC in Compuer Science. You can read Matt’s profile on LinkedIn and check out Start up Britain’s activities at


John Lewis launches tech incubator with spaces for five start-ups at Canary Wharf

John Lewis launches tech incubator with spaces for five start-ups at Canary Wharf

News from Business Matters is that the retail giant John Lewis has opened it’s new incubator for five businesses to win office space, investment and mentoring to develop their products

The leading retail chain has taken its involvement in StartUp Britain last year to a new level this year as it is launching its own technology start-up incubator, JLAB.

The competition for these, sure to be hotly contested places, will see five fast-growing early-stage tech businesses the opportunity to receive support, mentoring and office space, with £100,000 up for grabs.

Announced as part of the retailer’s 150th anniversary, the initiative will run in partnership with tech entrepreneur Stuart Marks and will look to recognise new ideas that support multi-channel commerce across in-store, mobile and online devices.

It is also seeking to support new technologies which simplify customer retail experiences using the internet of things and data for in-store personalisation.

Offering entrepreneurs the chance to “shape the retail experience of the future”, the 15-week incubator programme, running between June to September, will provide participants with £12,500 in return for a 4 per cent equity stake, access to John Lewis’ technology, dedicated office space in Canary Wharf’s Level 39, as well as mentoring from business leaders and John Lewis “insiders”.

At the end of the programme, participants will pitch to an audience of sophisticated investors and venture capitalists, where the overall winner with the “best” IT solution will receive up to £100,000 investment and the chance to trial their product with John Lewis.

Should this trial be a success, the business will then see their solution implemented across the entire John Lewis retail estate.

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis and executive sponsor for JLAB, said: “The innovation focus we are looking for needs to help provide our customers with the most coherent, cross-channel shopping experience possible.

“What I’m looking for from the successful JLAB applicants is deliverable but stretching innovation which offers real benefit for customers in both our bricks and clicks businesses.”

Incubator partner, Marks, continued: “We have crafted something unique in the UK retail sector that will give businesses access to the best mentors and an environment where they can develop their ideas.

“I’m certain that we will find new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis’ leadership in omni-channel retailing.”

Applications for JLAB close on 17 April 2014, to enter click here