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Funding for young entrepreneurs

Young entrepreneurs are the future of the British economy, and funding bodies are keen to recognise that. Read on for eight schemes that are focused on funding young people, including students and recent graduates.


Bright Ideas Trust

Age range: 16-30

Awards: Support and up to £25,000 startup loan

Requirements: Be unemployed or from a disadvantaged background

The Bright Ideas Trust provides support to young people who are unemployed, not in education or training or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. While they don’t give grants, they do offer loans of up to £25,000. They also run a programme specifically for prisoners who are interested in starting their own businesses after serving time.


Enterprise Nation Student Start-up of the Year

Age range: N/A

Awards: £2,500, year of free office space, business support

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate

The 2018 edition of Student Start-up of the Year is closed, but it’s worth bookmarking for next year. Students across the UK can apply, with 10 finalists pitching to a panel of judges. The prize includes a year of free office space.

Read more: Student Start-up of the Year


The Mayor’s Entrepreneur

Age range: N/A

Awards: Three £20,000 prizes

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate of a London university

If you have a business idea that would improve London, and you are either a student or graduated since December 2017, you can apply for funding from the Mayor of London. Your idea will focus on tech, the environment or the creative industries. Applications are open until 17 February 2019.

Learn more: Mayor of London


The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

Age range: 18-30

Awards: Free business course and two years’ mentoring; grants depend on circumstances

Requirements: Be resident in the UK

If you’re aged 18 to 30, live in the UK and have a business idea, this may be the programme for you. The Prince’s Trust have a plethora of resources and run an intensive four day course for budding businesspeople. If you can’t attend the four day workshop, you can take it online. Once you launch, you’ll have access to an experienced business mentor for two years.

Funding is available in special circumstances; the Trust also offers low interest loans of up to £5,000.

Learn more: The Prince’s Trust

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards

Age range: N/A

Awards: A share of £90,000 plus mentoring

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate of a partner university

Another great opportunity for students or recent graduates, Santander run an annual pitching competition for seed funding and business support. They are currently partnered with 80 universities, so there is a good chance that yours will be represented.

Read more: Santander Enterprise


Shell LiveWIRE

Age range: 16-30

Awards: £5,000 prize for one winner every month

Requirements: Restricted to green energy and resources

If your business idea relates to the environment, energy and resources, Shell may be your best bet. Every month the Smarter Future programme awards £5,000 to a young entrepreneur, with an annual prize of £25,000 for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Learn more: Shell LiveWIRE UK



Age range: 16 or older

Awards: £500-£15,000 grants

Requirements: Must be a social venture

UnLtd supports ventures that improve the community in some way – for example, making a donation with every sale. Particularly likely to be funded are startups that address the ageing population, underserved areas or access to employment.

Learn more: UnLtd


Inspired Cashpoint

Age range: 14-30, but it depends on the project

Awards: Up to £500 grant plus support

Requirements: Must benefit the community

Youth charity vInspired run themed Cashpoints for community projects, awarding grants of up to £500. If your idea has a clear benefit for your local area, this programme is for you.

Learn more: Cashpoint