The UKs 10 most entrepreneurial students unveiled


The UK’s most entrepreneurial students are unveiled today, each of whom are in with a chance to receive up to £25,000 worth of seed funding.

Amongst the finalists of the eighth annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards may be the nation’s next great business success story.

These are one of the UK’s largest business awards for students and recent graduates where the best and most forward thinking entries can receive cash prizes, mentoring and start-up support.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented: “We have a long term commitment to supporting higher education and we are proud to take an active role in fostering entrepreneurship among university students. They are the business leaders of the future and universities play an important role in nurturing this talent in our local communities. We are delighted to announce the 12 finalists and look forward to judging this year’s most innovative, creative and truly entrepreneurial talent at the final in November.”

Since the awards were launched, Santander Universities has given away more than £340,000 in support for budding student entrepreneurs, and given universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the UK.

Twelve teams have been named as the finalists of the competition:

Non-Technology Winners

Azure Foods, University of Oxford

Azure is the first company in Europe to sell Pinole. Pinole is a highly nutritious powder with a delicious roasted taste, traditionally made in Mexico from blue corn.

Chip(s) Board, Kingston University

Chip[s] Board is an eco-friendly alternative to chip board and MDF made from potato waste. Unlike its resin based counterparts, Chip[s] Board is biodegradable post-use and doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any other toxic resins and chemical.

Citylife UK, University of Nottingham

Citylife is the first provider to offer a full range of services to facilitate pre-arrival, arrival and the life of an international student coming to the UK by combining information services, social events, trips and adventures for international and Erasmus students.

Ezi-Sock, Ulster University

The Ezi-Sock allows users with mobility challenges to put on their socks independently with ease.

Fodilicious, Queen Margaret University

Fodilicious is an innovative and sustainable food business providing the UK’s first low FODMAP, gluten free and diary free, freshly prepared meal options for digestive health and wellbeing.

Smibbs, Plymouth University

Smibbs Skincare is a natural skincare company with products to manage a variety of conditions including eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, very oily skin and cracked dry skin.

Technology Winners

Machine Eye -Queens University Belfast  

Machine Eye have produced a non-intrusive retrofitable solution for tractors and machinery, to prevent injury and death caused by accidental contact with machinery.

POCKIT Diagnostics, University of Cambridge

POCKIT diagnostics is a UK- and Ireland-based startup company aimed at improving diagnosis of brain stroke.

Silver Lion Innovations -University of Strathclyde

Silver Lion Innovations Ltd is a Scottish start-up which designs medical devices to help people with mobility challenges turn over in bed, self-manage their condition and take back their independence.

Supernotes, Kings College London

Online collaborative learning platform serving higher-education students, who currently have a hard time creating and sharing their notes.

Wase, Brunel University

WASE develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace the circular economy to recover energy, nutrients and water that is in the wastewater.

Work and Communications, Nottingham Trent University

A comprehensive, trusting and simple employee data management platform, a personal tracking app with many additional features to create transparency within the workplace and enable users to maintain data and manage their affairs with piece of mind.


The 12 businesses were selected from a shortlist of 60 semi-finalists, to progress to the final stage having pitched their business idea to a panel of experienced judges in one of the three regional heats.

These took place at the end of June and early July and saw Universities from the North, Central and South of the England alongside Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to compete for a place in the final.

The successful businesses have been invited to attend an accelerator week in August 2018, which will provide them with a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers. During that week, the finalists will take part in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping them understand how to get the most from their business. Each of the businesses have also received £500 of seed funding at the semi-final.

The 12 shortlisted teams will then take part in the National Final in London, in November 2018. The students will be competing to be one of two winning entries to win prizes of up to £25,000 of seed funding. The two runners up will receive £15,000 of seed funding.

There are also six businesses progressing to the national final that were voted by the audience during the semi-finals as having the greatest social, community or environmental impact. These businesses will compete for £7,500 of seed funding at the national final.

Last year’s winners were BellaMoon, which provides unique, multifunctional baby products, from Queen’s University Belfast and Jenny Kate from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Irene Breen, the founder of BellaMoon and up and coming textile artist Jenny Evans, founder of Jenny Kate, were awarded top prizes of £20,000 and £25,000.

Research conducted by Santander Universities to support the launch of the Entrepreneurship Awards revealed that over 450,000 students currently run or plan to run a business whilst they are at university. Amongst those up and coming student entrepreneurs who have already launched a business, the average turnover is £11,408 per annum, equivalent to a collective £1 billion.

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards are supported by Talent Cupboard, Microsoft, iProspect, Scandinavia Stories, University of Leicester, University of Strathclyde, University of Liverpool and University College London.