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Ignite Founders’ Challenge

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Ignite Founders' Challenge.

Calling aspiring founders of innovative early-stage ventures. Do you have the desire to craft a successful startup?

Step inside the Cambridge ecosystem for a month and take on the Ignite Founders’ Challenge.

We are ready and excited to back the next generation of ambitious entrepreneurs. If that is you, then we want to help get your venture off the ground and flying.

The Cambridge ecosystem is renowned for enabling innovation and entrepreneurship. It has helped the development of world-changing ideas like the jet engine, the Raspberry Pi, the webcam and a host of others. This same ecosystem continues to produce innovation and is the home of hugely successful companies such as DeepmindArmDarktrace and Improbable.

We have places available for new and very early-stage ventures to join the Ignite Founders’ Challenge.

Over a single month, the Challenge focuses on developing startups like yours with an idea or an early-stage plan.

Programme overview

The Ignite Founders’ Challenge consists of a series of 10 half-day sessions. The programme takes place over a month, on Mondays and Fridays.

Programme dates: Monday 10 May to Friday 11 June.

The programme will take you through a series of Injection sessions, seminars and workshops on specific topics. These are followed by Reflection sessions on Fridays, facilitated by business coaches. The format enables you to develop your idea over an extended period, surrounded and supported by peers, experts and experienced coaches, right at the centre of the Cambridge ecosystem.

The programme is structured around specific milestones of achievement that you will manage using the Founders’ Challenge workbook. These will include:

  • Value proposition
  • Customer segmentation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Pricing
  • Costing
  • Marketing
  • Team requirements
  • Pitch deck and pitch video

As a Founders’ Challenge participant, you will receive a Founders’ toolkit before you start.

Completion of the Ignite Founders’ Challenge

By the end of the programme, you should be able to confidently pitch your idea to targeted audiences.

On completion of the Ignite Founders’ Challenge, you will receive an official certificate of attendance from the Business School.

Your venture will be entered into a competition and you will also have the opportunity to pitch for a place on our prestigious Accelerate Cambridge programme.


Cost per founding team is £1,450 (minimum two people team, maximum three people per team).

Cambridge Judge Business School alumni are eligible for a 20% discount. University of Cambridge students, alumni and partner organisations are eligible for a 10% discount.


We are offering all teams who apply the chance to participate in a competition to win a cash prize of £5000 and a free place on our Accelerate Cambridge programme. Our sponsors Context are offering a tech development package of first place £5000, second place £3000 and third place £2000, to the successful ventures.


NJF Capital

NJF Capital is the venture capital arm of NJF Holdings, a London-based private investment company. Sponsors of the programme workbook.


Context is a tech company creating and implementing intelligent content solutions. Sponsors of the tech package prizes.


Are you at the start of your venture journey? Put yourself and your idea at the heart of one of the world’s most successful startup environments. Take on the Ignite Founders’ Challenge.

Application deadline: Friday 30 April 2021

Apply for the Challenge

Frequently asked questions

Anyone with a very early-stage venture that they wish to develop further. The venture can be in any sector and focused on any idea or market.

Yes. The team needs to be at least two people and a max of three people can attend each of the sessions. If you have four or more in your team you will need to decide who will come to each session.

Successful applicants will be provided with the opportunity to attend a series of ‘injection’ and ‘reflection’ sessions which will be delivered and facilitated by our academics, experienced professionals, and industry experts.

The programme is accessible to anyone in the world and will take place in UK time zone. All you need is an internet connection.

Yes, successful applicants will need to have an idea that they wish to work on throughout the duration of the five-week programme.

No. The Ignite Founders’ Challenge is a programme run over five weeks. Sessions will take place on Mondays and Fridays from 10 May until 11 June 2021.

If you are shortlisted by our programmes team you will be notified via email about the next stage. We aim to inform applicants of the outcome of the application within two weeks of applying.

The programme takes place over a month, on Mondays and Fridays from 10 May until 11 June 2021.

Cambridge Judge Business School currently has no funding for places. There are, however, many organisations that do provide funding for this sort of programme, so it is worth searching locally and nationally for funding sources.

Cost per founding team is £1,450 (minimum two people per team, maximum three people per team). Cambridge Judge Business School alumni are eligible for a 20% discount. University of Cambridge students, alumni and partner organisations are eligible for a 10% discount. As part of the programme, successful applicants will also receive a founder’s toolkit which will be delivered to you before you start.

Refunds are not possible once you have accepted an offer to take part in the Ignite Founders’ Challenge.

Yes, you will receive a digital certificate from Cambridge Judge Business School.

Yes, there will be the opportunity for you to pitch for a place at our prestigious Accelerate Cambridge programme and we can provide you with information about many of the other programmes run by the Centre.

You can email our programmes team via [email protected]. We aim to respond to all queries within three working days.

Yes, you will only need to complete one application form and provide details of founders participating in the programme. To apply for the Ignite Founders’ Challenge, minimum of two people per team and maximum three people per team is required.

Contact us

For enquiries about the Ignite Founders’ Challenge please contact:

[email protected]