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2024 Open Business Creators Fund competition now open

The Open University (OU) has relaunched the Open Business Creators Fund competition for 2024.

The funding competition, in collaboration with Santander and funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund, offers grants from £1,000 to £10,000 to support OU students and alumni.

This year the competition also introduces two separate funding streams – commercial enterprise and social enterprise, each featuring categories for ideas, early-stage ventures, and established businesses.

Participants will be asked to explain their business models and present a portfolio to a panel of judges using on an online platform called Validate. They will have February and March to develop and test their business models, with a panel of judges reviewing their portfolios in April.

Robert Wilson, Student Opportunities Manager, said:

It is our hope that this extracurricular activity provides a valuable learning experience and is an excellent opportunity for OU students to develop their ideas and businesses in a supportive environment.”

Katy Schnitzler, PhD student at the OU and founder of MIST Workshops Ltd, won funding from the Open Business Creators Fund in 2023. MIST provides training, policy writing and support for pregnancy loss and infertility in the workplace.

I was excited to apply for the Open Business Creators Fund competition, and I was delighted and honoured to win! My company is run solely by myself and is in its early stages, and so winning the prize has opened many doors for MIST – from being able to purchase software, to launching an online training platform for accessible and pre-recorded training.

If you are considering applying for the competition, I can wholeheartedly recommend doing so. Even if you are in the early stages, there are categories for those at the ideas phase, and also for those with established companies. I was somewhere in the middle, and the prize gave me further drive, confidence, and growth.

Completing the application itself allows you to consider your business in new ways – from sustainable and ethical approaches to meeting equality initiatives. It enables you to highlight your unique offering, your competitors, and how you may grow and adapt. Since winning the prize money, the team at the Open University, and indeed Santander, have offered support and engagement opportunities.”

Visit the OpenLearn Create website to find out more about the competition, funding categories and how to apply. For additional information or alternative format requests, contact RES-student-programmes@open.ac.uk.

This article was originally published on OU news, read the original article.

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