Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 

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2018 Competition

Following the competition's success in previous years Aston University is delighted to be taking part in the 2018 edition. We’ll be taking applicants through three important stages as the competition progresses to make sure the experience helps you grow your business. This page will provide you with important information about the competition and how to get involved.

The Prizes

Santander competition 2018

2018 Categories 

This year participants can take part in one of the following two categories. Aston University will select the best entrants from each of the two categories to be entered into the main Santander Competition.  The two Aston businesses selected will each receive £500 of seed funding for their business.

Technology business category
Santander awards

Stage by stage guide

How to enter the first stage of the competition:

You need to submit  -

  1. A two minute video outlining the idea behind the business and how it came about
  2. A completed business model canvas (more information on how to complete your business model canvas available in the Useful Resources section below). This provides an insight into the inner workings of your idea or business.

Aston University will be collaborating with Santander in order to identify our best student and graduate businesses. At this stage we’ll be providing support on campus through activities such a business planning workshop. 

Wednesday 28th February 2018 2pm – 5pm Business Model Canvas workshop in MB246B

Deadline to submit your video and completed business model canvas to enterprise@aston.ac.uk is 12pm on Wednesday 18th April 2018

Once all of the nominations from Santander’s partner universities have been received Santander will review them in order to identify a list of businesses that will be invited to the next stage of the competition. Please note that a maximum of 30 entries per category will be put forward to the next stage. All unsuccessful entries at this stage will receive an invite to a regional breakthrough event, get a feedback session with one of our local business managers and will be invited to join us as a guest at the regional and national finals.

Judging criteria

In your video we’ll be looking for:

  • A clear explanation of your business, its purpose and an understanding of the problem that it solves for customers 
  • An understanding of where your business or idea came from (i.e. personal challenge, as a result of studying) 
  • Evidence of how winning the competition would help you grow your business. 

We’ll also be judging the completed business model canvas based on the information provided in each of the nine areas contained within the template. Please note that each area of the canvas will be weighted equally and that the video and business model canvas will both be worth 50% of the total score for this stage.

Stage 2 will see the successful applicants present their business to a panel of experienced judges at one of three regional heats in June. The event will take place in front of an audience and give you the chance to talk about and potentially expand on your business canvas that you 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 question and answer session. Information around the location and timings of these events will be provided to successful applicants.

Up to 12 businesses will then be selected to progress to the final stage. These businesses will receive £500 of seed funding and a place in the national final. A further 6 businesses will also be selected by the audience at the various events in June and will compete for a separate Peoples Choice prize at the final. All entries that do not progress at this stage will receive a certificate congratulating them on being shortlisted and a start-up gift set.

Judging criteria

Your pitch will be marked on your ability to demonstrate an understanding of the following four 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.

Please note that although some of this information would have been submitted earlier in the competition, the expectation is that presenters should use the time to ensure the judging panel have a clear idea of how the business works and its viability. Each of the areas above will be considered by the judging panel who will then select the businesses that will progress at the event.

Following the three regional heats, the successful businesses will be invited to attend an accelerator week which will provide them with 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 will participate in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping you understand how to get the most from your business. This information will also help inform the presentation you will deliver at the final in London.

For the last part of the competition the national final will take place in an exclusive venue in London on 4 October 2018, and teams will be expected to deliver a 5 minute presentation followed by a five minute Q&A session. The judging panel for this event will include high profile entrepreneurs, leading academics, Santander executives and business leaders. Following the presentations the judges will select one winner and one runner up for each category that will win the following prizes

The two winning businesses will receive:   

  • £25,000 of equity-free seed funding
  • Mentoring from business experts
  • Access to the accelerator week
  • A fully funded intern
  • £500 digital growth voucher from Talent Cupboard 

  The two runners up will receive:

  • £15,000 of equity-free seed funding
  • Mentoring from business experts
  •  Access to the accelerator week
  • A fully funded intern
  • £500 digital growth voucher from Talent Cupboard

Important information 

Stage 1

  • Competition launch: January 2018
  • Business Model Canvas Workshop: 28th February 2pm - 5pm
  • University applications deadline: 12pm on Wednesday 18th April 2018

Stage 2

  • Screening by Santander: 30 April to 11 May 2018
  • Shortlist announced: 15 May 2018
  • Regional heats: 25 June 2018 to 29 June 2018

Stage 3

  • Acceleration week: 16 July 2018 to 20 July 2018
  • National final: 4 October 2018
If you think that you’ve got an idea or business that could compete with the UK’s best then we want to hear from you. For more information and to find out how you can get involved please contact your local University Relationship Branch Manager or Enterprise Department on campus.

Read about our previous Aston University winner 

santander awards pr
  • All applicants must be students or alumni who have officially graduated within 2 years of the date of submission from a Santander UK partner university.
  • Applicants can be individuals or groups. There is no limit to a group size but any pitching at events is limited to 2 people.
  • Throughout the process applicants must be legally residing within  the UK.
  • All businesses taking part in the competition must be registered UK companies.
  • Applications that are currently in the idea stage must have all intentions of creating a UK registered company.
  • All applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Students or alumni must own a material share in the business and be responsible for the direction and leadership of the organisation. This would normally include holding the title of CEO, Founder or  Co-Found

 More information can be found in the Information pack.

We’ve provided you with a template business model canvas (based on the original available from strategyzer.com) and you’ll need to use this template to prepare your awards submission. 

However, if you feel you would like to get a better understanding of business model design there are some excellent resources available online. They include:

  • businessmodelgeneration.com: With content by the founders of the original Business Model Canvas this site and the associated book. provide content covering all aspects of the canvas.
  • strategyzer.com: A fuller look at business model canvas and value proposition design.
  • diytoolkit.org: Practical tools to trigger and support social innovation.
  • thehappystartupschool.com: Resources and guidance for startup founders that put people first and place happiness before profits.   
  • boardofinnovation.com: Placing business model innovation at the heart of larger companies. 

Please note that Santander is not responsible for the content published by these sites

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