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The Kickstart Programme

Enterprise funding

Find out about the Discover Fund and Launch Fund.

Student in LaunchPad

Do you have an enterprise idea? Have ambitions to start your own business? Do you need funding? Apply to The Kickstart Programme Fund to help you explore your ideas.

There are 2 funds available, open at different times of the year. Both can help you turn your ideas into a reality, provide a boost and help you get off the ground.

Discover Fund

Open to all current students, you'll have a seed of an idea and be at the early stages of exploring this. You may have a talent you'd like to make money from, have an idea to support others or a concept for a product. It may be a project that has potential for commercial, educational, environment or social impact.

You can apply for up to £400 to begin making your idea a reality. Applications for winter 2022 have now closed but will be open again in spring 2023.

Terms and conditions

Launch fund

Open to second year finishers, final year, postgraduate taught and research students and graduates up to 12 months after finishing studies. You'll be already working on your idea and looking to take it to the next stage. You may need to purchase software, access training, buy equipment, fund prototypes or rent premises. Up to £800 can be pitched for and applications will be open in the summer.

For more information, email kickstart@yorksj.ac.uk.

Resources to help you apply

Use the drop-down menus below to find more information and guidance to help you apply for funding.

Terms and conditions

You must read The Kickstart Programme fund terms and conditions. You will be asked to confirm your agreement of these when you apply.

By accepting the monies provided you are deemed to have accepted the following terms and conditions:

Awards are discretionary and not guaranteed. Please do not assume an application will be successful, nor anticipate any amount that may be received.

The judging panel's decision is final and there is no right to appeal their decision.

Information provided in an application will be correct and to the best of the applicant's knowledge. Deliberately providing false or misleading information will automatically disqualify an application. The University reserves the right to request repayment of any awards obtained as a result.

The University may make any enquiries they think appropriate in connection with an application and can disclose information on an application to other areas within the University as deemed necessary.

The funding can only be used for the purposes agreed in my application. The funding can only be used for business activities within the UK. The funding must not be used for any activities that may bring York St John University into disrepute.

The provisions of money, other services and feedback should not be considered an endorsement of the business and York St John University branding should not be used without prior permission.

It is expected that businesses or individual ventures will acknowledge the support of York St John.

The University will monitor the impact of the funds it has awarded to successful applicants, during the course of which you will be expected to share relevant information with the University.

By accepting this funding you agree for us to use your details to publicise our business start-up support internally and externally. Furthermore, you are agreeing to provide publicity material such as a blog or case study as detailed in the application for the relevant competition.

Application top tips

It is essential to clearly explain your enterprise idea. Use clear language and avoid the use of jargon. Think about how you would explain your idea in a couple of sentences. What is the idea and who is it for? Try explaining your idea verbally to others who don't know anything about it, then ask them to tell you what they understand of your enterprise idea. If they can't explain it back to you, then you know you need to think about how you communicate your idea more clearly. Using 'who, what, why, when' is a useful technique.

A useful exercise is to try and write your idea in 150 words and then also in 1 simple sentence. Keep reviewing this and reworking it as you develop the idea further and your research and depth of your idea develops.

You may be passionate about your enterprise idea, but having an idea is only the starting point. Research is essential. Again, use 'who, what, why, when' technique to begin asking yourself questions. For example:

  • What exactly is your idea and what makes it unique?
  • Who is it for (who are your customers)?
  • What does it solve (why is there a need for it)?
  • Who are your competitors and why is your idea better than the competition?
  • How will you use the money you are applying for?
  • How will you assess the impact of your idea (this could be through profit, audience reach or social or educational impact)?

Allow plenty of time to complete your application. Although our application forms are quite concise, take time to really think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. It is a good idea to plan the answers to your questions in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste them into the form when you are ready to submit.

Each application question will give you an indication of the required word limit and it is important to maximise this and make every word count. The application is your opportunity to really convey your idea. Be mindful that the panel reading your application cannot make assumptions about your idea. They can only base their decision on what you have written.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

If you have an enterprise idea you want to get off the ground and need some funding to make it work.

  • A start-up or enterprise idea. This could include creating and selling products, developing new technology and/or delivering a service.
  • A freelance / sole trader venture. This could include delivering a service and/or promoting yourself for freelance opportunities such as commissions or freelance work opportunities.
  • A creative project that has commercial, environmental, social or educational aims. You need to provide evidence that there is potential for growth of the activity beyond the life of the project.
  • A social enterprise. A business with a social or environmental mission where profits are invested back into the business or into the local community.
Discover Fund (up to £400)
  • For early stage, pre-trading enterprise ideas
  • To help you explore and test your ideas
  • Costs for market research, software/media, trade shows, conferences, workshops, equipment
Launch Fund (up to £800)
  • To support the progression and launch of your enterprise or project
  • At the point of trading
  • Costs for business registration, website costs, stock, app development, prototypes, e-commerce platforms

Yes. Student visa permissions allow students to explore enterprise ideas. However, you are not permitted to trade as self-employed or be engaged in business activity. The Kickstart Programme and funding can help you to test, research and develop your ideas up to the point of trading.

Should you wish to speak to someone about your student visa, please contact the Visa team at visa@yorksj.ac.uk.

Yes, but you must meet the eligibility criteria for each fund you wish to apply to.

If you have been successful in accessing funding previously, you would need to demonstrate that any future application for funding must either progress your idea further or be an application based on a new idea.

Yes. If your intention is to progress the idea outside of module requirements and you meet the eligibility criteria for the award you wish to enter.

Discover or Launch funds cannot be used to simply fund course projects or end of year shows.

Students or graduates an apply as individuals, a partnership or group. If applying as a partnership or group, please complete a single application and assign a lead applicant.

Any funding awarded to groups will be paid to the lead applicant for that group.

Yes, both you and the business need to be based in the UK.

If you want to maximise your chances, we recommend booking an Enterprise appointment to review your application before submitting it. Once your application is assessed, you will also get detailed feedback on your enterprise idea and suggestions for how to improve it.

Read our application top tips.

The funds sit within a wider offer of support and activities called The Kickstart Programme. This includes enterprise appointments, 1 to 1 mentoring, workshops, events and national competitions. For more information, email kickstart@yorksj.ac.uk.

We're here to support you, so don't worry. Please email us on kickstart@yorksj.ac.uk.

We expect that you will be motivated to make your idea a success and to carry out the activity or attempt to carry out the activity as per the awarded application.

However, if your venture isn't a success at this time, you are not required to repay the funding. Whether your activity is a success or not, we will gather feedback from you to help inspire others.

The Kickstart programme is here to encourage exploration and testing of ideas, and to give you confidence to pursue your self-employed ambitions. We can support you at every step of the way.

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