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The University of Manchester’s annual start-up competition is now open for entries

Start-up founders must be bold, brave and believe in themselves. However, everyone needs a little help. That’s why The University of Manchester has once again launched the Venture Further Awards (VFA’s), the UK’s leading university-led start-up competition.

Managed by the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre (MEC), based within Alliance Manchester Business School, the VFA’s nurture and highlight the wide range of entrepreneurial students and graduates across The University of Manchester. Giving innovative hopefuls the chance to turn their ideas into reality, the VFA’s provide entrants with the chance to win significant early-stage funding to start their own business.

To enable students and graduates from all backgrounds to enter the competition, there are five categories: Environment, Healthcare, Services, Social and Technology. No matter what faculty a student or graduate is from, they should find a suitable category for their idea.

With a whopping prize fund of £75,000, the VFA’s will fund fifteen new business propositions. It's not all about the cash though; this competition opens the door to a world of support programmes, workshops, mentors, and networks.

Acting as a stepping-stone for students to launch their dream business, the VFA’s allow students to get moving quickly. Rijul Shukla, the winner of the Business category in 2020 and founder of Spice Story, launched his business a mere 3 months after his big win. Since launching, Spice Story has gone from concept to product with its 100% plant-based Indian frozen curries now stocked in nine different stores across Greater Manchester. With a mission to help people live more sustainably and reduce the impact of food on the planet, Spice Story has collaborated with Too Good To Go and has also featured in the Guardian Weekend Magazine.

Entries to the competition should be viable and credible business proposals with real potential to succeed. Applications close on Thursday, 24 February 2022 and following the deadline, up to 25 finalists will be invited to pitch their business proposal to a panel of expert judges for a chance to win one of the cash prizes. To ensure entrepreneurs get the most out of the competition, MEC is offering a variety of support sessions between December 2021 and the competition finals in March 2022, to all aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the competition.

Last year’s competition was a huge success, with its brand new look and performance from Mike Dignam live at the Manchester Museum during the VFA21 online awards ceremony. This year’s competition promises to be just as exciting.

Ellie Buckley, Venture Further Awards organiser said: “Entrepreneurship is powerful and our students and graduates are a force to be reckoned with. So many fantastic businesses have emerged from this competition over the years and I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for us. We truly believe in entrepreneurship for all and the Venture Further Awards form a brilliant platform to enable this.”

If you’re an aspiring start-up founder who wants help to become an entrepreneurial warrior then get in touch with MEC to apply to the competition. Be your own boss, venture further…

Venture Further is organised by the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre and kindly sponsored by Peak AI and Slalom. Further sponsors to be announced shortly.