CF5 Start Fund - Sponsored by Santander


The Centre for Entrepreneurship Start Fund is designed for students and graduates who want to freelance, or those who want to start a social enterprise, business, or charity. You will be committed to working on your venture on a full-time basis, although we know you may have to work part time while you get started. Your idea should already be validated through test-trading or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Initially, your revenue may be low, however, the ability to either gain enough revenue to give you a basic income, or to secure investment within 3 - 6 months should be clear.

We've designed the application process to mimic the process of applying for more serious funding. It will take some work, but every document we ask for will be useful to you. If you need support with your application we'd love to hear from you -  you can register for 1 to 1 support using our online form, or if you already have please speak to your business advisor.​

Apply for Start Fund here.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Start Fund has two options;

  • A Bursary worth £2000 to support living costs plus a £3000 grant to cover start-up costs. (This is suitable for organisations with ambitions to grow beyond the founder.)

  • A Bursary worth £2000 to support living costs plus a £1000 grant to cover start-up costs. (This is suitable for 'lifestyle' businesses, freelancers or creative practitioners.)

Who can apply?

The Start Fund is open to current students (Undergraduate and Postgraduate) and recent graduates (within 2 years). Applicants must be legally allowed to start a business in the UK, therefore international students will need to have graduated and transferred onto the Graduate Route visa before funds can be released. You, and your business must be based in the UK.

What can you apply for?

The use of the grant element of the funding must be clearly outlined within the application. You can apply for specific expenditure which will help you to progress with your business. This may include the registration of IP, marketing costs, test trading costs, specialist equipment etc.

In addition to specific expenditure, you may want to consider the following:

  • Membership of the Freelancer Club, FSB, or other professional body.

  • Access to coworking space such as Tramshed Tech, Colab or Sustainable Studio.

  • Software subscriptions for your first year of trading.

    • Accountancy software such as QuickBooks, Xero or Sage

    • Graphic design software

    • Webhosting such as Shopify or Squarespace

  • Business Insurance

Please note that we are unlikely to fund training courses. laptops, cameras, or other generic IT equipment.

Your application should be supported by a Cash Flow analysis which demonstrates a need for the funding. The Cash Flow analysis can include a salary or drawings for the founder, but this should be supported by a personal 'survival budget'.

Grants are awarded on a first come first served basis and are judged on the quality of the application. There are a limited number of awards available, applications will close once all funding has been allocated. To enter you will need to provide the following documentation:

  • Business One Pager (1 Side A4).

  • Business Model Canvas

  • Video Elevator Pitch. This is a 3-minute pitch to present your business and your story. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your authenticity and your knowledge of your own business, and for you to further clarify your ask.

  • Pitch Deck and Financial Projections OR Marketing Plan and Financial Projections.​

  • (Financial projections should include an Income Statement and Cash Flow analysis for at least 1 year.)

  • Detail of proposed spending for the grant element of the award with quotes and justification (1 Side A4).

Apply for Start Fund here.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Seed fund is subject to full terms and conditions which will be provided to successful applicants or supplied on request.​

Not ready for Start Fund yet? Try Seed Fund.