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York Venture One - supporting ideas through to investment

York Venture One provides University of York students, recent alumni and staff with the financial resources to take a business idea from concept through to early stage investment.  Designed to facilitate the development of an MVP or the gathering of evidence of market demand, Venture One is a pilot initiative offering between £5,000 to £10,000 as either advance subscription or seed funding.  Awards are made on a competitive basis so please check the eligibility and desirable criteria below before applying. 

Previous winners of Venture One

2020 saw the opening of the Venture One programme, an initiative launched by the University of York to support high growth, high potential businesses. Despite the impact of Covid-19 the Enterprise Department shortlisted and heard pitches from several potential businesses from students and alumni. Round 2 of the programme completed in October 2020 where two investments were made:

Travel Tracker

Travel Tracker is a new product and service that will allow train ticket issuing system companies like Trainline, Evolvi and SilverRail , Train Operating Companies and Travel Management Companies to present within their Online Booking Tools the Historic Service Performance data for each train journey. 

Founder Harry Baldwin, who is studying Social and Political Science at the University of York says:

"The Venture One Fund has been a wonderful opportunity. It has given me capital, support and expertise to really help me grow my business. The scheme has helped me to set up my business and to focus on a long term strategy to ensure that the business succeeds, I can't thank Chris and the team enough for their expertise and support over the last few months".

Harry is working with some major stakeholders in the rail sector and we are excited to see how the product develops in the coming year, especially with rail being such a central part of what puts York on the map.

Connect with Harry on Linkedin


ElbowSpace Ltd is a software development company with a focus on the Education Section, in particular Students’ Unions within Higher Education. They have recently pivoted parts of the business to support the changing landscapes for Unions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has included developing bespoke Freshers platforms that enabled Unions to engage with their members in new ways, with some Unions seeing a 45%+ engagement increase. 

Founder Aidan Laycock, a Full Stack Developer at the University, describes how the mentorship included as part of the Venture One programme has helped his business:

"Venture One has been a great opportunity for ElbowSpace Ltd as it has enabled us to validate our business and to not only benefit from investment but also from mentorship. The direct mentorship from industry professionals and the process itself has really helped us to focus the business and to ensure that we have explored all potential avenues for business development. Following the process we have reenvisioned the business and the potential opportunities that we can explore going forward"

As a result of the Investment, Elbowspace have been able to employ staff to focus on developing their MVP and enabled the team to dedicate time to develop working partnerships in the sector.

Visit Elbowspace



The next round of Venture One will open in October 2021. Join our Linkedin group for updates. 

The University of York is committed to supporting start up businesses through a range of programmes, from workshops to investment. Not ready for Venture One? You can:

What is Venture One?

Bridging the gap between the inception of a business idea to its first round of investment, York Venture One represents the commitment of the University of York and its alumni to the development of viable and scalable enterprises. Applicants to York Venture One can access between £5,000 and £10,000. This can be in the form of either:

  1. Advanced Subscription - this can be used to develop a concept through to the point that it can attract first round, third party investment. A business receiving an advanced subscription also gives the University future rights to equity - effectively acting as pre-payment for shares that would be allocated in any future funding round.
  2. Seed funding - this would typically be used to supplement or lever a first round third party investment. The equity stake taken by the University is subject to the scale and risk exposure of the investment.

It is anticipated that applicants to York Venture One will work closely with the University to both prepare their applications and implement the activities generated by the funding. 


York Venture One welcomes applications from:

  • current students of the University of York, both undergraduate and postgraduate
  • recent alumni, typically up to three years from graduation
  • members of University staff, where the business idea does not directly relate to current research

Application must meet the general criteria set out below. Good applications will also meet some, or all, of the desirable criteria.

General criteria

Your business concept must:

  1. Be legal under UK law. This includes respect for intellectual property laws as well as the nature of any products or services involved and customer groups served. It may also refer to the legal status of the applicant with regard to UKVI rules on entrepreneurship.
  2. Be yours to pursue. It is acceptable to have business partners involved in the concept and these partners do not necessarily need to be members of the University of York community, however the community applicant must have the written consent of any partners or collaborators involved before applying to develop a business idea through the investment process. Part of this consent should be a clear description of the applicant’s role, rights to any income, intellectual property and any other commercial outputs in carrying the business concept forward relative to any other partners or collaborators.
  3. Not have the potential to become incompatible with the reputation and values of the University of York. This includes the activities of the applicant’s business and also its intended customers and suppliers. The final decision on this criteria will rest with the fund board.  
  4. Be premised on making a sustainable level of income and surplus through the sale of products or services. Concepts based around the creation of social impact and value are welcome but must not be premised to rely entirely on donations to sustain themselves. Concepts need to anticipate generating a surplus within generally accepted industry specific timescales and should be able to show realistic plans that indicate that this will be eventually be achieved.
  5. Be premised on sound technical and knowledge principles. While innovation and creativity are encouraged, the concept must be achievable within the generally accepted technological and informational limits likely to be accessible to you.
  6. Be based around the levels of resources and expertise that you can realistically bring to it. Although it is anticipated that entrepreneurs will seek to develop concepts beyond their existing resources there are likely to be limits to any concept’s appeal to future investors or lenders. Ambition is expected but so too is a recognition of these limits. Similarly your skills and experience will form an integral part of the assessment process and will therefore need to be commensurate with what is being proposed.
  7. Have a base in the UK.

Desirable criteria

Although compliance with the desirable criteria does not guarantee an application's success, it's desirable that your concept also demonstrates:

  1. Scalability. Your concept should be capable of growth in terms of turnover, profit and employment. Concepts that will only serve the employment needs of the applicant are less likely to be funded than those that have the potential to enter national markets and engage others.
  2. Innovative. Your concept should to be attempting something other than developing an established concept to compete in existing markets, particularly local ones.
  3. Accessibility to the University of York’s start-up support networks. While you can choose to base yout businesses anywhere in the UK - where there's a strong business case for doing so - a willingness and ability to work with other components of the City and University’s business support offers will provide greater assurance than those opting to working remotely.
  4. The potential to enhance and enrich York’s start-up support networks. Concepts that offer advantages to York’s business environment will have an advantage. These might include: implementation of University research, potential recruitment of York graduates, placement students or interns, contributing to existing networks or clusters of expertise, offering the opportunity for leveraging investment from outside of the University or immediate city region.
  5. A positive societal impact. Businesses that respond to a societal challenge and have potential to generate positive social or environmental impact are especially welcome. Examples of this could include promoting sustainable production and consumption or encouraging healthy lifestyles. Business working in or with less advantaged communities are also particularly welcome (subject to general criteria 4 above).

If you have any questions about your eligibility please contact Student Visa holders are not eligible to apply.

Application process

To apply for either an advanced subscription or seed funding you'll be asked to go through the following stages:

  1. Contact to arrange a time for either a meeting or telephone conversation about your potential application. Chris will be able to advise on both process and criteria.
  2. You will recieve a pack containing the following documents for completion and submission:
    1. A short narrative description of your business outlining what it will do, who it does it for and why it's likely to succeed. The narrative should clearly state the role Venture One will have in building the business relative to other forms of support you intend to access. You should also ensure your narrative leaves no doubts about your compliance with the general criteria and where possible your alignment with the desirable criteria (max 1,200 words).
    2. A business model canvas showing the intended customers, value proposition and resources of the concept you are applying with. (A business model canvas is a summary of your venture on one page. Find out more and download templates.)
    3. A cash flow forecast for the business for its first 12 months in detail and 36 months in summary.
    4. An income statement (profit and loss forecast) for the first 12 months in detail and 36 months in summary.
    5. A summary of research and references you have in support of your business – including prior experience if relevant (max 1000 words).
    6. An example of the advance subscription contract.
  3. Complete two coaching sessions designed to help you make the most of your subsiquent opportunity to pitch to the board. The focus of these sessions can be decided based upon your own requirements: advice for pitching online, finaincial literacy or managing the growth of your business.
  4. Attend a presentation and interview session with the York Venture One Board. The York Venture One Board meets twice a year (April and January) and you will be invited to make a 10 minute presentation on both your business and your personal capacity to deliver what is proposed. This will be followed by around 15 minutes of questions and discussions with the Board. If invited to meet the Board you will be provided with details of further information you should bring along to address any questions raised by your written submissions.
  5. Discussions with the York Venture One Manager. If the Board is minded to support your application you will be invited to a meeting with the Venture One Manager to discuss the details of a formal agreement.