Over £1m invested in University of Birmingham student businesses

The University of Birmingham has facilitated more than £1 million in funding for student and graduate startups through its incubator, UoB Elevate.

UoB Elevate has helped develop a range of businesses including a new bio-adhesive made from food waste, a new platform to buy and sell art, a social enterprise which runs esports events to fight isolation and loneliness, and a natural and organic dog product business.

One of the businesses supported is Bloomwise, a startup created by Frankie Lewns, a final year PhD student, and recent PhD graduate Dr Paris Alexandros Lalousis. Bloomwise provides mental health support to help businesses care for their employees. With the assistance of the incubator programme the Bloomwise team was able to secure funding to develop a first version of their mental health app, and they are now looking for investment to create an updated version.

Frankie Lewns, Co-Founder of Bloomwise said: “Joining UoB Elevate has been one of the major milestones in our business journey so far. Not only has it played a key role in all our successes to date, but it has accelerated our rate of growth. With us both being from academic backgrounds, the business support for us has been unrivalled. The team are everyone’s biggest cheerleaders and make real impact on every business that passes through the doors.”

UoB Elevate, located at the Exchange in Birmingham city centre, is currently working with its second cohort of student and graduate entrepreneurs and helps with everything from funding, through to development and training opportunities to make their business idea a success.

Nicola Gittins, Deputy Director of Student Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, said: “It is really exciting to have reached £1 million worth of funding and investment for our student and graduate entrepreneurs. We have so many incredibly talented students and graduates at the University of Birmingham, and through their hard work and innovative ideas they have been able to move their businesses forward.

“The UoB Elevate programme has been able to help our young entrepreneurs develop their businesses, grow their networks and even take on interns. In the midst of a challenging economic time for many, it is wonderful that the University is able to facilitate the creation of new business, new jobs and opportunities.”

The £1million of funding is entirely external from the University, and is made up from venture capital, private equity, crowdfunding efforts, and grants. Support from University of Birmingham alumni have also been crucial in the success of the programme.

Gavin Maggs, Director of Development & Alumni Relations at the University of Birmingham, said: “Donations have played a critical role in the success of Elevate: the space itself is named to honour the gift from Graham Turner, the Start Up Scholarships have been created out of philanthropy, and the gifts of time from alumni and friends in mentoring, pro bono advice and the like have been essential.  But all that donors and friends did was to create the environment for the entrepreneurs to succeed – and they have done that, to their enormous credit and to our collective pride.”