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New ‘Enigma Scholarships’ launched at University of York to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Posted on 16 December 2021

The University of York has teamed up with a local healthtech consultancy to launch 18 new scholarships to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds realise their academic and entrepreneurial potential.

students on campus near Heslington HallThe scholarship programme begins in early 2022. Image credit: University of York/John Houlihan

The University will partner with VISFO – a West Yorkshire-based Healthtech consultancy led by local entrepreneur Dr Max Noble – to fund the new 'Enigma' scholarships, which are designed to benefit students from widening participation backgrounds.

The scholarships will be awarded to 18 successful applicants at the University of York, who will be supported financially throughout three years of study.

Successful applicants for the scholarship are set to be announced at the end of the year, with the programme beginning in early 2022.


Applicants will have experienced significant barriers to their education goals in their personal, social or domestic life, with the scholarship aiming to level the academic playing field to provide opportunities for those in social care, with disabilities or from minority ethnic groups.

The University of York's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students, Professor Tracy Lightfoot said: "This is a brilliant opportunity for our students and will bring such a rich experience to their time at York.  

"The scholarships are supporting students who need it most, not just through financial support, but the enriching experience of coming together as a group to work, learn and grow together. With the support of Max and other mentors, they'll develop skills and confidence for the workplace and future success."


Dr Max Noble, founder and CEO of VISFO, said: "It’s incredibly important to be providing opportunities like this to students. I know from personal experience how difficult access to higher education can be. It’s a barrier I also encountered, but with support, hard work and determination I began my academic career and never looked back.

"I was lucky enough to return to York at the end of the 90s to pursue a Masters in Health Economics, which became the foundation for VISFO.

"These scholarships for me are not just about financial support, they are also about developing the students and providing them with access to the wealth of knowledge available here at VISFO. We have a growing team of highly successful role models who are keen to offer guidance to the Scholars on their individual journeys. I’m incredibly excited about this partnership with the University of York, and hopeful that Enigma will empower and enthuse the next generation of entrepreneurs."

Those awarded the Enigma scholarship will receive a unique offering, tailored to maximise their professional and academic development. The 18 students will supplement their degree programmes with collaborative work, engineered to connect science, creativity and problem solving, and encourage entrepreneurial thinking. Alongside financial support, VISFO will also provide regular mentoring for participants from experts within the healthtech and pharmaceutical sector.

Further information:

About York Unlimited

The Enigma scholarship is part of the University of York's commitment to enabling every student to shine through its institutional campaign, York Unlimited. Each of York’s scholarship funds form part of the campaign and have been established to support students to come to York from underrepresented backgrounds including asylum-seeking students, those who have disabilities, those from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, as well those who are the first in their families to access higher education and those who are living in, or have lived in, the care system in the UK.

Find out more about the York Unlimited campaign here.


A healthtech consultancy specialising in medical strategy, medical affairs, market landscaping and digital strategy, VISFO support global clients at all stages of their product lifecycle strategy with a complete end-to-end solution.

Working with global pharma clients such as Takeda, Janssen, BMS and Abbvie, the consultancy is on a trajectory for growth and has doubled in size due to its commitment to technology, innovation and R&D. Projects include conference listening strategy and insights, consumer health platform and content development, digital opinion profiling and engagement strategies, digital and scientific landscaping across global markets and key opinion leader ranking and insight generation.

The Enigma scholarship is yet another example of VISFO’s commitment to delivering its mission ‘to bring diverse thinkers together, solve problems and benefit the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities’. Enigma scholars will be encouraged to emulate VISFO’s mantra ‘we think differently’ whilst solving real world problems in a fun and creative way. It is hoped that the project will enable participants to explore their own potential and develop essential skills to help them succeed beyond graduation.


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