University Programmes

The ultimate business challenge for students in Higher and Further Education: Start-Up 


Start-Up is a unique programme designed to connect students with opportunities to progress, and empower them on their journey towards employment. Run at universities and further education colleges over the course of an academic year, Start-Up gives students the chance to set up their own company, as part of their studies, or in addition to them.

Start-Up is similar to our flagship Company Programme which helps secondary students test the waters of business, and their ideas for development, in a safe environment. However, with Start-Up the stakes are higher, and the possible gains are greater.

Why take the Start-Up programme?

We know that not every student who takes part in the Start-Up programme will want to be an entrepreneur, but in an increasingly competitive job market, where more people than ever before are graduating from university, students increasingly need to find a way of creating their own networks, and setting themselves apart from their peers.

Start-Up companies are mentored by experienced business volunteers and this provides a vital opportunity for students to network, gain experience outside of academia and gain an insight into future careers. Start-Up ensures graduates enter the work place job-ready, building essential skills for work and a business network to help them take their first step in their career.

The programme unleashes creativity, and embeds the skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by industry today; from communication and team working skills through to tenacity and resilience. The programme also encourages entrepreneurship – a growing area of opportunity for many recent graduates.

About the programme

A truly transformational experience, Start-Up is a programme that couples academic rigour with practical applications; giving participants freedom and flexibility, whilst enabling participation in different aspects of business management. During the course of the programme students will be encouraged to:

  • Sell shares and raise start-up capital and open a business bank account
  • Assign roles and generate an innovative business idea
  • Carry out market research and product development
  • Test their idea in a real sales environment
  • Evaluate their progress and wind up their business

Students finishing the programme will be signposted towards further opportunities, should they wish to continue their business after their involvement with Young Enterprise has ended.

All student companies will get the opportunity to take part in our competition, with the chance to progress to the National Final which takes place in London in May each year. Companies at the Final are assessed on the viability of their business idea, and, in the past, successful teams have gone on to receive funding and mentorship from major organisations to take their idea forwards. There is also the opportunity to progress on to a European Final and represent the UK against teams from over 20 countries.

Key features

  • A range of printed and online resources
  • Access to YE Online where students can obtain resources, guidance and manage the business
  • Support, advice, and inspiration from local business volunteers and YE Staff
  • Opportunities to engage with local businesses and prospective employers through mentoring and workshops
  • Attend local trade fairs where teams sell their products to the public
  • Take part in competitions and/or celebration events.

Want to know more?

Start-Up can be a great addition to any course seeking to embed enterprise principles, not just business! If you would like to speak to a local Young Enterprise Manager about working with your college or university then please get in touch:


Kindly supported by:

Old Mutual Wealth