Recent world events have demonstrated how vitally important innovation and adaptation is to the resilience of our economies and communities. It has highlighted the need to find new ways to make our society safer, healthier and more sustainable. It has highlighted the need for greater representation and inclusion.The University of York believes in the power of enterprise and entrepreneurship as a driver for this change, to deliver better economic and social outcomes for everyone.
Our commitment to ensuring this progress is a bold new initiative - Enterprise Works.
A diverse, connected, supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, reaching further into the community than ever before.
Enterprise Works is the new identity of enterprise support and innovation at York. Our ambition is to be recognised not only as a centre for research and teaching excellence, but to be known for our diverse, connected and thriving entrepreneurial community. One motivated by public good, which uses enterprise and entrepreneurship to change and challenge the world as it is, seeing the world as it could be.
This vision has challenges. We need to avoid entrepreneurship being associated with privilege. For many this privilege looks like access to influential networks, expert insights and financial stability which affords the freedom to fail. We know barriers exist, even within our existing programs, preventing many from pursuing their entrepreneurial potential.
How can we deliver enterprise for all when the opportunities are not available to all.
Enterprise Works aims to break this cycle by providing the tools and confidence needed to thrive in business. It will be a safe space to test ideas, host a supportive knowledgeable network and be a place to learn regardless of background or experience.
Enterprising attributes and an entrepreneurial mindset can help you succeed, even when the odds are stacked against you. Skills and traits that go beyond traditional education can help those experiencing deprivation to aim high and push beyond the obstacles others don’t have to face.
We believe that a persons’ outcomes should not be determined, or restricted, by their background. We want the people we support to have the opportunity to discover their skills and the things they’re passionate about – and learn how they can take them forward. Help Enterprise Works to be this catalyst for change and help all our entrepreneurs realise their aspirations.
Together we can broaden this even further into the community, sharing our insights and expertise with groups who do not currently have the privilege of opportunity.
Enterprise Works is enterprise for all
At its core Enterprise Works is a source of knowledge and support. A catalyst for enterprise and a springboard for success. We want to work with individuals and businesses across our community to enhance, accelerate and expand the impact of our enterprise activities.
The innovators are waiting but we need your support
With your support Enterprise Works will:
1. Expand our success in supporting student start-ups to the region’s entrepreneurs
Ensure holistic support and funding programmes are available for the region’s entrepreneurs to develop their business from idea to sale.
2. Develop our existing small business, leadership programmes and funding opportunities and make them available to entrepreneurs across our city and region.
3. Act as a gateway for small businesses to work with the University.
4. Deliver a community engagement programme to bring together thought leaders, business owners, policy makers and researchers to work on crucial social and business issues.
5. Create a diverse ecosystem to support, engage and enable easy access to high quality advice and cross-fertilization of ideas and opportunity.
6. Test a range of new approaches to equality and diversity, young enterprise and policy.
It is an ambitious undertaking but by working with a powerful coalition of city partners: the Good Business Charter network, York Science Park, Local Enterprise Partnerships, City of York Council and individual networks and sectors, we know we can catalyse and turbocharge an entrepreneurial culture in York and the wider region.
What will we do?
Build on success
Launched in 2022, Enterprise Works is already building a network of seasoned entrepreneurs and start-ups and is open to those with new ideas. At our launch we saw the enthusiasm and ambition of our local community to be involved, seeing our next steps as their own. Now we are seeing a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem taking shape and the potential of its members is becoming even clearer.
‘There’s a lot of hidden talent out there’
Enterprise Works will build on the foundation of the years of support the University has offered to student enterprise education. By sharing the insights and experience of our own practitioners we are hoping to unlock the potential of future entrepreneurs within our local community, perhaps even future employers. Any of the entrepreneurs engaging with Enterprise Works will have the benefit of access to the University of York’s global alumni network of more than 140,000 graduates worldwide. A potential 140,000 new connections and countless opportunities to learn and grow from one another.
Share our expertise
This is no ordinary centre for enterprise but a community hub for innovation, research and knowledge exchange - when we say reaching further for our students, staff and into the community than ever before, we mean to achieve it.
We will offer small businesses training and funding opportunities to entrepreneurs across York and the wider region. Through a wide-range of events we will bring together thought leaders, business owners, policy makers and researchers to work on crucial social and business issues, alongside creating a new community, allowing entrepreneurs to access expertise and peer support.
Currently around 200 students per year benefit from the innovation programmes already embedded in the university. We want to share our expertise with the local community and bring the ‘Enterprise for all’ agenda to life.
We will offer thought leadership through the development of our academic research and evidence base and we will use this to influence policy.
Invest in Ideas and Start-ups
‘Our success is not in how many students go on to have successful businesses, it is about the learning - how many get the opportunity to learn and grow.’
Investing in potential future entrepreneurs is not a new idea to the university but it is upon this experience we wish to build. Two flagship programmes Venture One and the Summer Accelerator Programme have brought to life many fledgling ideas and inspired many students' aspirations and ambitions post graduation. Whether the businesses succeeded or not the experience has been invaluable, introducing the students to networks and possibilities that might have seemed unreachable alone.
VentureOne- Investing in student start ups
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 in investment.
Student Summer Accelerator with Santander
The Summer Accelerator is about exploring a business idea over an eight week period to see if it might work on a longer term basis. Entrepreneurs are given: a dedicated work-space in our Phase one incubator, five coaching sessions with a professional business coach and a fund to allow their absolute focus on the business during the process.
These programmes have enabled students and staff the capacity to nurture more early stage ideas into businesses of potential. They have enabled founders to showcase their innovation, to scale them up through venture funding and other inward investment, and to embed them in the supply chains of major companies across the region.
The York Accelerator
The ambition of Enterprise Works would be to replicate this within our wider community, allowing us to find and support businesses that represent the enterprise for all agenda. The accelerator in this new phase would deliver job growth for all parts of our community, attract new inward investment and support the expansion of York’s innovation ecosystem. The York Accelerator could be the opportunity that sparks the next big technology solution, but just as importantly it could be the process that sparks a new ambition.
The Year in Enterprise Scholarship
Many student entrepreneurs take the next step in their business via a Year in Enterprise. This is a chance for them to gain academic credit for having a go at starting their own business, whilst having access to the expertise of the Enterprise Team and professional business coaches. However this is not an option for everybody.
Whilst student living costs are partially met by accessing Student Loan, living expenses whilst a business idea is under development and unable to trade are something of a disincentive to participate - particularly for students from less advantaged backgrounds. We would like to offer a Year in Enterprise scholarship to open this up to students from such circumstances, enabling them to focus on their ambitions over how they can afford to achieve them.
I think those considering supporting student entrepreneurship initiatives have the potential to make significant positive change in the world. Whether it's a small or large amount of support provided, one's actions are increasing the probability that the world will improve.
Spark enterprise in more diverse communities
Entrepreneurship as a solution- a time for inclusion
“ I think we need to get an entrepreneur into every single classroom to inspire and guide young people”.
Instrumental to the success of ‘enterprise for all’ is authentic community engagement, bringing enterprise skills and education directly to those currently without the privilege of opportunity.
We believe in the potential of entrepreneurship and self-employment to decrease social inequality. We intend to deepen our knowledge of the local community, and the challenges disadvantaged and underrepresented groups face in securing meaningful employment.
Our dedicated access and outreach team at the University of York work with talented young people from all backgrounds to not only inspire them into higher education but to help find their future career path.Through Enterprise Works we want to ignite that entrepreneurial flame.
Making it all happen
We will provide a front door, a home for enterprise and dedicated staff. We have transformed the iconic York Guildhall into a new space for knowledge exchange and creative collaboration. It’s a perfect way to expand our enterprise activity into the City and region, and will offer a full suite of business start-up support, access to office space, and an incubation facility.
‘I think the more we can do through these sorts of collaborations the better and that’s what you are doing here in York, as a part of Enterprise Works.’
“In launching Enterprise Works we are laying the foundations for new entrepreneurial futures - futures which are open to anyone, from any community, with access to the right advice, services and support which enables businesses to thrive."
Enterprise Works is the right combination of ambition and determination needed for success, challenging what we do well to make it better not just for our students but for the region. Together as a community we can pool resources and affect change for the next generation of entrepreneurs, the North and beyond.
We look to you to give future entrepreneurial leaders the best opportunities for success. Your donation will enable more York students, alumni and community members to benefit from advice and financial support at each stage of their entrepreneurial journey.
Sparking enterprise in more diverse communities
Enterprise Works Network-building programmes
Community and Schools Engagement Programmes
Student Enterprise Programmes
Investing in Ideas
Supporting Venture One
The Student Accelerator Programme
Building our knowledge and evidence base in entrepreneurship
The Enterprise Works Chair
Enterprise Works Fellowships
Enterprise Works Year in Enterprise Scholarships
Making it all happen
Enterprise Works staff and other overhead costs
1 year - £0.68M
3 years - £2.3M
5 years - £3.4M
“The next generation of entrepreneurs will grow some great new businesses, which will support the development and expansion of our regional economy”.
Don’t just take our word for it…
The Enterprise Works agenda reaches well beyond those that go on to careers as entrepreneurs. It is about learning and development beyond their education. Meet Mo and Yoyo, two entrepreneurs already making an impact on their communities through enterprise experience sparked at York.
Meet Mo and Opulence Growth
"Our mission is to support entrepreneurs from a diverse range of under-represented backgrounds with the aim of building socially beneficial businesses."
Mo was inspired to set up Opulence Growth to provide an effective strengths-based pathway for young entrepreneurs in his native Bristol. The aim is to help young people reach their potential through business support, mentoring, networking events, investing opportunities, peer-to-peer support, office space and more so that they can build impactful social businesses that also contribute towards making Bristol’s economy more diverse and inclusive.
‘Overall last year has gone better than we had ever imagined! We worked alongside six entrepreneurs to develop our unique accelerator program, tailored to the needs of the entrepreneurs on our course. In 2021 ,in excess of £250,000 in revenue was created by our entrepreneurs' businesses and over 50 paid work opportunities were created for the community’
One of the businesses supported by the programme is Kay Cleaning Services. The operation was set up by two black women in Bristol as a response to help lower the impact of covid in their communities by giving them access to high quality and eco-friendly cleaning services. Their positive impact extends to hiring local talent and paying them a living wage above, as well as giving back to programs that support women of colour.
Mo was supported by the Enterprise Team throughout his journey.
‘At times they asked me difficult questions which reflected in changing what I had originally planned to do.It was very welcoming to see that the careers department allowed for that flexibility, I felt like it was backing the entrepreneur rather than the idea which for me was very important’
Entrepreneurs like Mo have the capacity to effect change in their communities, which is exactly the ambition of Enterprise Works. By supporting passion and potential in this way we can make an impact not only on the number of people receiving our support directly but also through those touched by their future products.
Meet Yoyo and KodyPay
The vision for KodyPay is about removing waste and complexity from the payment industry resulting in lower fees, reduced use of materials and a positive impact on the planet.
KodyPay was founded in the summer of 2018 by a small group of secondary school students and was developed here at the University of York. To date,Yoyo has raised an impressive $6m in investments. Today, KodyPay's platform is growing to connect thousands of customers with venues across the UK each day.
As a Management School student I was driven to trial the app in a real-world environment and received support from the university to pilot KodyPay in our campus supermarkets. I also benefited from close support and early-stage finance from the University’s Enterprise Team, Santander Universities and connections with alumni entrepreneurs who helped me to promote the business to potential investors. We have recently secured a £1.8m investment from a consortium of private investors including IBM’s Cognition Foundry.
“I’ve seen enough early-stage companies to know it takes 10 miracles to succeed,but when I first met Yoyo, I knew within the first 10 minutes I was going to invest with him. It was his energy level, his enthusiasm, his grasp of detail that impressed me. And the reality is that often experience is a hindrance rather than an advantage—you’re constrained by what you think is not possible. Yoyo doesn’t feel constrained.”
York is a great place to start a business. KodyPay has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever undertaken as I have had to sacrifice my social life and work through sleepless nights. It has been a remarkable journey and I could not have done it without the support of the people around me, including the Enterprise team here at York and staff at the University’s Office of Philanthropic Partnerships and Alumni (OPPA) and Research and Enterprise. They really have been fantastic and have helped me turn my dream into a reality.
I can afford to make mistakes, in fact, they’re not mistakes when you’re this young, they’re learning experiences. So it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to worry about the future. I just have to worry about the journey.
Yoyo credits the help he received from not only the enterprise team but the networks of York alumni driven to support him in the early stages of KodyPay. Through Enterprise Works we want to ensure that more people are afforded the opportunity to make such mistakes and to have the confidence to try. We do not just want to imagine the potential of upscaling our support to others, we want you to experience it with us.