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Start your business dream with a Foundership

By Newcastle University

In just eight years our START UP Founderships programme has helped 21 graduates launch 30 businesses, raise £22million in funding, generate £54m in turnover and create nearly 200 jobs.

But what exactly is a Foundership? How did it help these successful young entrepreneurs realise their dreams of launching their own companies? And, if you’re thinking about starting your own business, how could it give your big idea the big push it needs to succeed?

Let’s start with START UP…

START UP, part of our Careers Service, supports all areas of self-employment, helping you grow your business or independent career.

START UP advisers will work with you to explore your plans, identify the skills you have, as well as the skills and specialisms you need, to take your idea further – through business development, launch and beyond.

START UP support is available to all students and also graduates for up to three years after graduation. It includes:

  • coaching: confidential and one-to-one, START UP advisers will help you identify the steps you need to achieve your goals
  • funding: equity-free grant funding up to £3,000 to help progress your business or business idea
  • space: an open plan co-working area in the King’s Gate building for group work, formal meetings and informal conversations
  • huddles: peer-learning and support groups where you can share your journey – and your challenges
  • endorsement: for eligible international students who want to remain in the UK to grow their UK-based business through the government's Start-up visa route

Open to students and graduates as individuals or teams, START UP support is free and delivered by advisers who have first-hand experience of being self-employed and are well connected to a network of entrepreneurs across the UK.

What is a START UP Foundership?

A START UP Foundership is a package of more intensive support for you and your business.

This six-month business pre-accelerator programme is aimed at early-stage start-ups – that’s business opportunities which are in development or have just launched.

Designed to help you establish your business, you’ll be supported from proof of concept to market entry, first investment, and/or successful application to leading UK business accelerators.

The Foundership package includes:

  • bespoke one-to-one mentoring
  • group workshops
  • access to influential partnerships
  • a living stipend of £7,500
  • funding up to £10,000 to drive business development

Founderships are highly competitive – only five will be awarded this year. You’ll have to apply and also pitch your business idea. But even if you’re not successful, the selection process features a series of valuable online workshops, so you’ll come away with some great insights.

Who can apply?

To join the programme this year you must be due to graduate by September 2022 or have graduated from Newcastle University within the past two years.

You should meet with a START UP adviser before you apply and, if you’re an international student, you must provide evidence of your Right to Work in the UK, including your eligibility to be self-employed.

There are other criteria, too, so make sure you check if you’re eligible to apply.

The programme can benefit businesses in all sectors. Because of our strengths, we’re particularly able to support businesses that fall into the sectors in our Research and Industrial Strength Strategy:

  • healthcare and life sciences, including ageing
  • advanced manufacturing
  • offshore and energy technologies
  • digital and technology, including data
  • culture and creative arts

What businesses have been supported? 

There have been just six cohorts of START UP Founderships, but a diverse range of businesses have gone on to reach market.

Foundership alumni include Town Planning graduate Chris Dawson, who co-founded One Utility Bill. Aimed at the student and young professionals rental market, it bundles utilities into one​ monthly bill, making payments easier.

This former tech start-up has gone on to secure £5.5m in funding, been shortlisted for tech​ innovation awards and grown to employ 75 people.

Lukas Passia (International Business Management MA) and Vincent Efferoth (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship MSc) took the humble cup of tea and built the award-winning NOVELTEA.

They now export their premium blends of tea flavoured with gin, whisky​ and rum, to Germany, Hong Kong and China.

And Business Management graduate Natalie Ellis has gone on to launch not one, but two successful businesses.

She received a START UP Foundership for Oh My Glow – a detoxing beauty supplement which ended up being shipped to around 45 countries – before following this success with Boss Babe, an online community to help female entrepreneurs connect, build and grow. 

You can find their stories, plus some of our other Foundership alumni, HERE.

How do I apply?

Applications open on Monday 25 April and close on Sunday 22 May at 11.45pm (BST). To apply you’ll need to submit an online application, including a five-minute video pitch.

Up to 24 businesses will be chosen to progress to the next stage involving online sessions over a three-week period. These sessions will focus on the customer, business growth potential, and route to market; there’ll also be a chance to meet Foundership alumni and hear their experiences.

You’ll submit a revised video pitch and application, applying what you’ve learned, and if you’re one of the 10 businesses shortlisted, you’ll make your final presentation to the START UP Founderships Selection Panel.

What’s next?

If you think a START UP Foundership is for you, more information is available from the Careers Service. You can also login to MyCareer as a student or register as a graduate to email the team, or sign up for an online Q&A session on:

  • Wednesday 4 May (6pm): What is START UP Founderships and is it right for you? 
  • Thursday 5 May (6pm): Discussing female entrepreneurship 
START UP Founderships are a fantastic way to get your business idea off the ground. Best of luck applying!