In October 2021, Launch Space welcomed 16 innovative start-ups to receive business support, incubation, and acceleration services.
Launch Space provides free desk space and business support for aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage businesses. Launch Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone.
Through Launch Space some businesses are eligible to apply for Santander Start-up Grants which aim to remove the financial disadvantage to pursuing the entrepreneurial career path. These grants facilitate the growth of early-stage start-ups, giving them vital funds for an internship, or to develop new products and services.
Following the 6-month programme of workshops, peer learning, advisor sessions, and mentoring, the group were able to apply for the grants in early 2022.
Applications for the next cohort closed on 3 May and will begin on 18 May with a full-day induction where they will meet former members of Launch Space and hear first-hand the experiences they’ve had.
As we prepare to begin Launch Space Spring 2022, we caught up with a few of the Autumn 2021 cohort who were successful in securing these grants to see how they’re getting on.
Andy and Guy, Co-Founders, Target Student
Target Student are building the UKs first digital out-of-home advertising network specifically within student accommodation.
“Our platform will digitise advertising to students – which has traditionally been done through noticeboards and flyers. This also opens up a new channel to brands to advertise on large digital screens.
“We first applied for the Santander funding in 2021, and we got support to get our proof of concept up and running. This involved running the screens in 33 properties in 16 cities, with a reach of 30,000.
“Now we need to test our idea to see if we can measure impact. This additional funding will support with research and development of this stage, to work out which analysis platform to use so we know how many people are viewing our screens. This means we’ll have the hard data to be able to sell advertising space.”
Nicholas Du Preez, Founder AI Assist
AI Assist is a revision application for students. It combines proven study techniques with machine learning to adapt revision to the study needs of the individual student. This enables them to make the most out of their revision time and long-term memory.
“Education traditionally relies on students to memorise large amounts of information in order to pass exams, often with limited notes or information. I experienced this as a student and came up with the idea for AI Assist.
“Developing the idea was fascinating, because a lot of it is centred around understanding psychological research and revision techniques, so that you can create a revision plan that is unique to the individual.
“Everyone has areas they are weaker or stronger in when it comes to studying, and everyone has a different way of learning, so you can use machine learning to understand the best approach, or mix of approaches that is right for that individual. This is what the app does and it has already proven to increase the exam results achieved by 52%.
“The Santander funding will allow me to employ an intern who can support with the next step – turning the idea into a mobile and web application, testing it on students and ultimately improving their revision experience and their grades.”
William Testeil, Co-Founder, Famli
Famli is an app that helps families improve their health and wellbeing in a fun and simple way through engaging activities that cover exercise, nutrition, and mental health.
“Initially we were offering Famli on a B2C basis, but we’ve had a lot of interest from primary schools. This funding will go towards web support so that we can develop our app for teachers – allowing us to have more of an impact as well as providing us with a sustainable business model.
“Before getting to this point, we had been bootstrapped for two years. We’d spent our money developing the app and we were doing other work to cover our personal expenses. Through the support of Launch Space we got an initial grant from Santander, which allowed us to spend our whole working week on the business. This gave us time to hire our technical Co-Founder, which then led to us being eligible for more funding and we secured a £50k grant through Innovate UK.
“Now we’re able to get another round of funding through Santander, which will enable us to bring in new talent. Launch Space sparked a domino effect for us and gave us mentoring throughout this process.
“I’d definitely recommend Launch Space to other entrepreneurs – we’re all going through a similar process and as well the structured support it offers, it’s also just nice to pop in and connect with others going through the same journey.”
Jamie Taylor, Founder, Greener Greens
Greener Greens leverages modular vertical farming to bring the highest quality produce to chefs where and when they need it.
“I heard about Launch Space through UWE Bristol. I missed the first day because I was representing the university at the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards, so I was at Wembley Stadium pitching instead!
“These contacts helped me to bring on my first intern, which opened my eyes to the benefits of getting this support. As a startup you have no money and you need a lot of work done, so that’s why I applied for the funding. Connecting with the other businesses at Launch Space has given me an insight into the skills I need to bring in.
“Now I have the funding I want to find someone who can design mock ups of the software we need for our customers (chefs) to easily interact with our farms, and who can assess the use cases for the application. This work is essential for building our MVP and it is an area that is outside my own skill set.”
Find out more about Launch Space.