Skip to content Accessibility statement
Home>York Unlimited>News>2020>York graduate advances to national finals in startup competition

York graduate advances to national finals in startup competition

Posted on 28 September 2020

A University of York graduate has been selected for the National Finals of the Santander University Emerging Entrepreneurs competition.

Experience Heritage delivers immersive and interactive heritage displays, digital models, web and mobile apps and modified images for heritage groups, museums and private owners using the latest digital technologies. Bethany Watrous, the company’s founder and lead Digital Archaeologist, graduated from York in 2018 and has been building up the business with the support of her team since then.

Bethany is a member of Phase One, the University of York’s incubator programme which provides entrepreneurs the time, space and support to start, grow and develop their business, and in summer 2020 the business was able to recruit a paid student intern to develop their digital marketing strategy. This internship was funded by Santander as part of a generous donation to offer additional support for students and startups impacted by Covid-19.  

The Santander Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme is one of the largest student and graduate startup competitions in the UK and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the competition. Since April, 81 startups have taken part in an accelerator programme via online webinar sessions and after competing in the semi-finals, Experience Heritage is one of eight finalists who will be competing for the prize of £30,000 seed funding as well as a paid intern.

Bethany said: "The Santander Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme has been a great learning experience and we are so excited to take part in the next chapter of this journey! I'm so excited to be able to represent the University of York on this platform. They have done so much for me throughout the development of Experience Heritage and their support has been invaluable."

Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement, said: "I'm delighted that Bethany has reached the finals of this competition: the quality of student and graduate-led startups across the UK is extremely high so to have been chosen as one of the eight finalists is a huge achievement. 

The University is committed to promoting entrepreneurship and helping any of our students who are interested in starting a business to do so. Santander Universities UK has been a champion for student enterprise nationally for 10 years, and our partnership has been incredibly valuable to York's students and graduates as Santander have provided not just funding, but advice and expertise to our entrepreneurs."

The finals will be held on 29 September and are open to the public to watch by registering here. There will be a panel of prestigious judges who include Theo Paphitis (TV Dragon), Prue Leith (Chancellor, Queen Margaret University and judge on The Great British Bake Off), Warwick Hill (Business executive and entrepreneur), Julie Devonshire OBE (Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London), Nathan Bostock, Chief Executive, Santander UK, and Susan Allen, CEO, Retail and Business Banking, Santander UK.