Newcastle University nurtures start-ups through Founderships programme

The Founderships initiative is the latest to emerge from Newcastle University's Rise Up agenda

Brigette West, left, and Rose Brown of the popular blog Beauty by the Geeks
Brigette West, left, and Rose Brown of the popular blog Beauty by the Geeks

Budding entrepreneurs from Newcastle University have moved a step closer to turning big ideas to successful ventures through a new programme designed to help them commercialise their innovations.

The university has launched an initiative known as Founderships, which offers recent graduates advice, support, a dedicated workspace for six months and funding of up to £10,000 for their projects.

A key area of focus will be the use Intellectual Property (IP) to nurture and launch new business ideas.

Following a rigorous selection process, the university has now selected five ‘Founders’ who will benefit from the programme during 2014:

  • Civil Engineering graduate Ed Stephenson, who wants to bring together project management solutions for construction companies online;
  • Brigitte West, who since graduating with First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences, has rapidly expanded her business knowledge through the successful blog, Beauty by the Geeks;
  • Chris Dawson, who studied town planning, and has created a concept for a utilities management service for properties with four or more tenants;
  • Liam Rushforth, whose first-class degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering has given him a solid technical foundation for his business,, which aims to take the hassle out of finding gifts for friends and loved ones; and
  • Richard Llewellyn, an economics graduate who has engaged with the business and healthcare communities to develop Physio Platform, a system to provide tailor-made exercise prescription software to clinicians. Dr James Callaghan, director of research and enterprise services at Newcastle University, said: “At Newcastle University we have been working with the North East Local Economic Partnership to help support innovation in the region to create new businesses.

“An important element of this is encouraging graduates to commercialise their research and our role as a University is to ensure that IP arising from our research and the work of our students is given the best possible opportunity to be exploited.

“We actively encourage our students to think about using their IP as the basis on which to build a business and we have a range of support to help them do this.”

The Founderships initiative is the latest addition to Newcastle University’s Rise Up scheme, set up by the Careers Service to support student and graduate entrepreneurs.

Gareth Trainer, assistant director of the Careers Service and head of Rise Up, said: “We supported 33 new business start-ups in the last year, employing 43 people.

“Some 25 of these businesses are now based in the North East.

“In addition, 46% of our 2012/13 graduates who were in employment six months after graduating were employed in the region.

“We are a significant ‘net importer’ of talent to the region and we want to turn that talent into new businesses that create new jobs with the help of the services we offer.”

In addition to supporting business start-ups, Newcastle University Careers Service organises a paid internship scheme that aims to place 220 graduates with local SMEs.

The programme, entitled Graduate Apprentices, has seen 167 recent graduates start a three-month paid internship so far this year.

According to data from the university, these internships result in 92% of the graduates securing longer-term jobs.


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