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Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.

The annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is a business pitching competition which encourages and supports university students to be more entrepreneurial and is open to all students and graduates from a Santander Universities UK partner. The awards benefit student and graduate entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes, mentoring and startup support. Since the competition’s launch, more than £420,000 has been given to startups and small businesses.

2019 competition

This year applicants will be guided through three stages as the competition progresses to ensure the experience helps you grow your business.

Key dates

  • Competition launch – January 2019
  • Applications open – 09:00 26 February 2019
  • On-campus events in Cambridge – March 2019
  • Applications close for Cambridge applicants – 23:59 10 April 2019
  • Screening – May 2019
  • Shortlist announced – May 2019
  • Regional heats:
    • North – June 2019
    • Central – June 2019
    • London and South – June 2019
  • Accelerator week – August 2019
  • Reflection and preparation for the final
  • National final – October 2019


Please note all submissions to this competition must be sent via Cambridge Judge Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre. Please email your submission of a two-minute video, business model canvas and submission form to [email protected] by Tuesday 10 April 2019, 23:59.

What could you win?

A maximum of 60 entries are selected by Santander from nominations by University partners. All entries (including unsuccessful entries) are invited to the regional and national finals.


  • Over £90,000 worth of equity-free seed funding available in total.
  • Mentoring and support from business experts.
  • Exclusive access to an acceleration week.
  • Winning businesses will receive a fully funded intern from Santander.

Eligibility criteria

Santander Emerging Entrepreneurs, to enter:

  • students or graduates must be from a Santander Universities UK partner university
  • the company must have been set up for no longer than 12 months
  • funding generated must be no higher than £100,000 (including but not limited to investment, grants, loans, revenue and prizes)
  • the company can have a maximum of five employees (please note this does not include founders).
  • Submission of a two-minute video which explains the business, its origins and provides evidence of how winning the competition would help grow your business.
  • Business model canvas (template issued by Santander, available under ‘Useful resources’) providing an insight into the value proposition and inner workings of the business.
  • Submission form.

If you are one of the two entries nominated by the University of Cambridge, your submission will be passed to Santander by the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre as competition co-ordinator. The next stage is the regional heats in held in June.

To register, prospective participants must get in touch with Cambridge Judge Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre. In addition, the Entrepreneurship Centre shall be offering a series of tailored workshops and drop-in sessions. If you are interested in booking an appointment, please register your interest by completing the online form.

Register your interest

Successful applicants present their business to a panel of experienced judges at one of three regional heats in June.

The event, in front of an audience, provides a chance to talk about your business model canvas (submitted as part of the first stage of the competition). You’ll have five minutes to present which will be followed by a five-minute Q&A session. Information around the location and timings of these events will be provided to successful applicants.

Your pitch will be marked on your ability to demonstrate an understanding of four key areas.

  1. Your customers.
  2. Your product and/or service and the impact it has on customers and communities.
  3. Your business model and its viability.
  4. What the impact of winning the competition would be.

Up to 12 businesses are selected to progress to the final stage. These businesses receive £500 of seed funding and secure a place at the national final. A further six businesses are also selected by the audience at the regional heats in June and compete for a separate People’s Choice prize at the final.

The accelerator week

Following the three regional heats, the successful businesses are invited to attend an accelerator week which provides a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers. Details of the partners participating in the event will be announced over the coming months.

During this week, finalists participate in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping you understand how to get the most from your business. This information also helps inform the presentation you will deliver at the final in London. Please note that expenses for finalists will be covered by Santander (see the terms and conditions in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards Information Pack for further details). In addition, there is a pitch training session during the summer for all finalists.

Previous winners

POCKiT diagnostics (@pockitdx), a venture currently supported by Accelerate Cambridge, were awarded runners up prize at the 2018 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. They were one of 12 shortlisted to take part in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards national final in London in November 2018. The two runners up received £15,000 of seed funding.

Participating in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2018 has been a great experience that improved our enterprise on many different aspects. The preparation for the semi-finals back in June this year required us to perform an all-around critical evaluation of the venture and offered us a platform to formally present our innovation to the public. The London Accelerator week organised by Santander has also been greatly inspiring: we attended seminars on key aspects to consider when starting a company and we got in contact with many other like-minded young entrepreneurs. We are greatly honoured and proud of having been selected for the final stage of this prestigious award. The Accelerate Cambridge programme run by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School has been instrumental for this achievement. The vibrant and stimulating environment at Cambridge Judge, together with world-class mentoring support has helped us to mature our ideas into a real venture. We are greatly thankful for this incredible opportunity.
Edoardo Gaude, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, POCKiT diagnostics
* About Santander Universities

Santander has been collaborating with universities for more than 20 years on a unique global initiative which sets the bank apart from other national and international banks and financial institutions. The bank supports the higher education sector in such areas as teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student mobility and innovation. Santander has signed collaboration agreements with over 1,200 academic institutions from America, Asia and Europe. Santander is already collaborating with 80 British universities with agreements focused in promoting international exchange, entrepreneurial activities, employability and the mobility of students and researchers within the network. View a list of all eligible universities.