Test your business idea and get access to funding and a range of other resources through competitions for startups.
Most startup programmes are run as monthly or annual competitions. They include opportunities to meet your peers, learn from industry experts and refine your ideas, as well as access cash prizes and investment.
- Develop your network and skills
- Explore and test your idea
- Get support for a market-ready or trading business
Learn how to set up a startup
The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) competition is a three-day training programme designed to develop business awareness in postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. It offers workshops for all academic disciplines, with input from leading industry figures. Take part and you’ll work in a small team developing a business plan for a hypothetical but plausible idea. Visit the YES site to find out more.
Establish an entrepreneurial network
Pitch @ Palace gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet people who could help them realise their business ideas. That includes CEOs, influencers, angels, mentors and business partners. Participants are invited to attend a boot camp and get advice on developing their pitch, as well as accessing investment, making connections and getting strategic input. Visit the Pitch @ Palace site to find out more.
Explore and develop your business idea
Our Build your own business series of courses will take you step-by-step through generating and testing an idea, developing a business plan and setting up your business. Interactive workshops and one-to-one support will help you turn your idea into a viable venture. Find out more about our Build your own business programme.
For innovative technologies in chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry runs the Emerging Technologies competition to speed up the development of new ideas in health, energy and the environment, food and drink, and enabling technologies. Winners receive up to £10,000 to progress their idea, along with training, mentoring and promotion. Visit the Royal Society of Chemistry site to find out more.
For ideas that tackle the global waste challenge
The Green Alley Award is open to European startups with ideas for recycling, waste prevention or digital circular economy solutions. You could win €25,000 and access to mentoring, networking and learning opportunities. Visit the Green Alley Award site to find out more.
The London Healthtech Challenge
The HealthTech Challenge awards is a business idea competition which awards £10,000, along with mentorship and training, to a health tech idea that will improving healthcare outcomes. Shortlisted teams have the chance to refine their idea and pitch with the input of industry professionals. It’s open to teams with at least one post-graduate student or researcher affiliated to an academic institution. Visit the HealthTech Challenge site to find out more.
Support for ventures that improve wellbeing
The global IMAGINE IF! accelerator programme is for startups in life sciences, healthcare, digital health, clean-tech or advanced engineering that are working on improving wellbeing. It provides a cash prize, lab space, mentorships, free advice from professional services companies and networking opportunities. Visit the Innovation Forum site to find out more.
Support for engineering spinouts
Researchers looking to set up a spinout can apply for an Enterprise Fellowship at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The programme provides up to £60,000 equity-free funding, tailored mentoring and training, and PR and marketing support. Visit the Royal Academy of Engineering site to find out more.
For innovations addressing social issues
The Stephen Lloyd Awards are open to early stage projects that could bring about practical, sustainable social change. Ten shortlisted applicants will receive up to £2,000, along with expert support to help them further develop their ideas. The winner will be awarded up to £20,000. Visit the Stephen Lloyd Awards site to find out more.
Seed funding for startups
The Start-Up Series is a monthly seed funding competition. It awards one business up to £250,000 of equity funding, support from an experienced director and media coverage across startups.co.uk. To apply, your startup will need to be based in the UK and have been trading for two years or less. Visit the Start-Up Series site to find out more.