Competitions, Awards & Opportunities

The Varsity Pitch Competition – NACUE

The NACUE Varsity Pitch is the UK’s biggest business competition for students and graduates, attracting the most innovative startups exploding out of college and university campuses.

Students and recent graduates can enter into two categories by submitting a 60-second video pitch, showing their radical business solutions. Shortlisted applicants will later be asked to pitch their ideas live at the semi finals in October when 6 startups will go on to compete to win £10,000 at the finals in Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The six category finalists will be joined by the winner of the Online People’s Vote and put through rigorous enterprise training at the Mentoring Bootcamp in preparation for the Grand Final in Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. On the day, each finalist will have two minutes to pitch their concept to an esteemed panel of industry experts. The winner will take home £10,000 for their startup.

Due to the high number of people contacting us after the deadline, including some of our institutional members, we have decided to reopen the competition for a second application period at the end of the summer break. This will give those starting their studies this Autumn a chance to enter. We will reopen for applications on 22nd August.

Visit Website

EU-funded Start-up Entrepreneurship Programme

A hands-on interactive business support programme, fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Arming you with an Executive Summary, a Pitch Deck, a Business Model and a basic Financial Plan, this SETsquared programme will put your business on the path to success.
In addition, you will get the chance to:

* hear from other entrepreneurs who have gone on to raise significant investment
* hone your pitch in front of a panel of investors and expert mentors
* receive valuable feedback to shape your proposition from the speed mentoring session.

The programme is open to all - it is ideal for entrepreneurs with an idea for a tech-based product or service and founders of early-stage technology ventures, as well as more experienced entrepreneurs launching a new product/venture.

Next programme runs the 7th & 8th September in Guildford with other programmes to be announced.

Visit Website

Morgan Innovation and Technology Prize

To celebrate this anniversary in 2017, MIAT have launched the Morgan Innovation & Technology Prize, which will award £30,000 worth of R&D services to the winner in order to take their idea to the next stage of development.

The prize will be awarded to the entry that the judges feel has the potential to make the biggest impact and will make best use of the prize to further their idea.

Application closing date: 5 November 2017

Visit Website

Scale-up Stars of the Future

Welcome to the Scale-up Stars of the Future business competition.

To mark the 30th anniversary of Oxford Innovation we are running a UK-wide competition to identify the next generation of exciting growth businesses.

If you're an innovative SME looking to build on your success, this is a great opportunity to be recognised for your efforts and get the support you need.

1st Prize:
Workspace support;private/shared/lab/virtual office space
30 hours of professional coaching support from specialists at Oxford Innovation
Introductions to investors for free
Potential for SEIS/EIS investment
WORTH UP TO £10,000

2nd Prize:
Workspace support;private/shared/lab/virtual office space
20 hours of professional coaching support from specialists at Oxford Innovation
Introductions to investors for free
Potential for SEIS/EIS investment
WORTH UP TO £5,000

3rd Prize:
Workspace support;private/shared/lab/virtual office space
5 hours of professional coaching support from specialists at Oxford Innovation
Introductions to investors for free
potential for SEIS/EIS investment
WORTH UP TO £2,500

Visit Website

Young Guns 2017

Sponsored by haysmacintyre and DeVona Cresa, the annual Young Guns Awards celebrates founders aged 35 and under who have built companies with huge growth potential and have the financials to back it up.

This is the 15th year for the Awards, with Young Guns alumni members including Michael Acton Smith, founder of Moshi Monsters creator Mind Candy; Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, and Holly Tucker MBE – co-founder of

To be eligible candidates must be:
The founder, co-founder, managing director or CEO of a privately-owned UK business
Aged 35 or under
Running a company with turnover and/or funding of £1m or more

DEADLINE: 29th June 2017

Visit Website

The Innovation Challenge

This business competition, sponsored by Cummins, invites young and established ethnic minority entrepreneurs, with an innovative product, solution or technology, to present their ideas to a panel of potential investors, buyers and industry experts with the view to access markets, finance and technical support.

Focus areas:
* Healthcare
* Fintech
* Real-Estate
* Environment/ Sustainability
* Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Augmented/ Virtual Reality/ IOT and Cyber Security

Prize: 2 scholarships sponsored by EY to attend a one week residential Executive Business Programme at the Ivy League ‘Tuck Business School’ in Dartmouth, USA.

Each individual scholarship is worth USD $10k* and provides the winning entrepreneur an opportunity to attend one of the leading business schools in the world and master the skills to develop a high-performing business or opportunity to scale-up their business.

DEADLINE: 14th July 2017

Visit Website

Creator Awards

The global grants program, the Creator Awards, are coming to the UK.

By the end of 2017, they will have given out $20mm to innovators around the world, with at least $1.5mm earmarked specifically to the UK.

Idea stage or looking to grow there are options available to you.

DEADLINE: 1st July 2017

Visit Website

The Pitch

Could you be the next Pitch Champion?

Over the years The Pitch has helped thousands of small businesses grow, and in that time we’ve done a fair bit of growing ourselves! Since starting as a pitching competition a decade ago we’ve evolved into one of the UK’s most exciting small business programmes, geared up to educate, empower and enable entrepreneurs just like you to take your business to the next level.

How do we do this? We run an inspiring programme of activity both online and through our awesome live events, all designed to give you the skills, support and exposure you need to succeed. And the best part? It's all completely free!


Visit Website

£1,000 grant and a free company formation

Calling All Budding Entrepreneurs!

Enter the Formations Company Entrepreneur Award for a chance to win a £1,000 grant and a free company formation!

The Formations Company Entrepreneur Award is returning for a second year, but this time the award isn’t just for students, but is open to all aspiring entrepreneurs!

To apply, all that is needed is entrepreneurial flair and a truly great business idea. You could be a student, a mum or a business enthusiast, wherever you are from in the UK and whatever you do, if you have that special business model, The Formations Company want to hear from you.

The winning entry will take the grand prize of a £1,000 business grant and have their limited company set up for free. As the award is in partnership with Barclays, the winner will also receive an invaluable start-up package including professional guidance and mentorship to help turn the business idea into a reality.

DEADLINE: 30th June 2017

Visit Website

Great British Entrepreneur Awards

This scheme celebrates entrepreneurship across 14 categories including innovation, high street, start-ups and creative industries.

DEADLINE: 18 August.

Visit Website

Small Business Sunday

Every Sunday former Dragons' Den judge Theo Paphitis picks six small business owners to retweet to his thousands of Twitter followers. For the chance to be selected tweet @TheoPaphitis with the #SBS hashtag between 5pm and 7.30pm on Sundays.

Visit Website

2018 Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Do you want to change the world? Rolex is seeking Young Leaders between 18–30 years old with a spirit of enterprise, a talent for leadership and a proposal that will make the world a better place. In 2018, five Young Leaders will be selected by an independent jury for proposals in three areas: environment, applied science and technology, or exploration.

They will each receive 100,000 Swiss francs, a Rolex chronometer and worldwide publicity.

Applications close on 30 June 2017

Visit Website

Small Business of the Year Award

The Business School at the University of Portsmouth are sponsoring the category "Small Business of the Year Award". Entries from small businesses who have 1-20 employees and who have been trading for two years or more are welcome.

It's a great opportunity for the winner and runners up who get mentioned at the event next February. The winner will be able to use The News Award Winner logo and will receive plenty of publicity in local press.

Visit Website

Rise mentoring

Rise London organise mentoring sessions on a regular basis where startups get matched with mentors from Barclays and from the bank's corporate partners. Register your interest to attend and someone from our team will contact you about our upcoming mentoring events.

Visit Website

O2 Think Big

Need money, support or training to help improve your community? We help young people launch ideas and programmes that benefit the places where they live.

Visit Website

Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Programme

The Smarter Future programme provides start-up funding of £5,000 and exclusive mentoring sessions with Shell business experts to one winner per month to help young entrepreneurs with the most innovative business ideas to tackle the biggest energy and resource challenges we face.

Monthly deadlines.

Visit Website

Our Advice