Find out how we can financially support you to launch and grow your business or social enterprise idea.

Funding opportunities

Take a look at some of the funding initiatives we offer below.

Startup Sussex

Startup Sussex is the University’s long-running ideas competition for students and recent graduates. It has a long history of supporting new founders who have gone on to success and media acclaim. Past winners include Darren Tenkorang of TRIM-IT and Lucy Hughes of MarinaTex.

The competition will re-open in Spring 2024.

Ideas Fund

Apply for a chance to receive up to £250 and one-to-one coaching to kickstart your side-hustle or business idea.

If you’re lacking the guidance or finances to get your idea up and running, the Ideas Fund is here to help you. With a cash boost to overcome money obstacles and one-to-one coaching support from the Entrepreneurship team, you’ll overcome initial challenges and set clear goals to develop your idea further.

All current Sussex students are invited to apply, with priority given to UK-domiciled undergraduates from underrepresented groups.

To enter, you will need to submit a Business Model Canvas, along with answers to some key questions about your proposal and how this support can benefit you.

If you have any questions, or would like additional support before submitting your application, contact:

Applications open each term. 


Elevate Grant

The Elevate Grant exists to support trading entrepreneurs at Sussex, or those who can demonstrate they have made significant progress developing their business.

If you are a current student or recent graduate (within 3 years) and are operating an active business, or can show evidence of progress developing your startup, you can apply for a maximum of £2,000 funding to accelerate your business's success.

You will be need to answer a series of questions relating to both your entrepreneurial qualities and your business progress so far. 

The Elevate Grant will be open again in Summer 2024, for participants of our Summer Accelerator only. Those that do not take part in our Summer Accelerator can apply for an Elevate Grant in Autumn 2024.

Ideas Lab

Ideas Lab will return in Autumn 2024, and the team will guide you through idea generation, validating your idea, developing a value proposition, finances, marketing and delivering an elevator pitch.

By the end you’ll be ready to pitch for up to £10,000-worth of startup funding and support through our Startup Sussex competition.

If you are a current student, you will be able to access our online entrepreneurship module on Canvas.

If you are a recent graduate, contact for access to this year's Ideas Lab recorded sessions.

Big Ideas Contest

The University of Sussex has partnered with UC Berkeley to bring Big Ideas to the UK. This well-established and highly-respected student startup initiative supports those who have big ideas for a better world. Contest categories include global health, food and agriculture, arts and social change, education and more.

Each year one Sussex student is selected to travel to California and pitch their idea at a Grand Final, with a chance to win £10,000 launch funding. Selection takes place at the end of autumn term, where applicants are required to submit a short proposal. The Ideas Lab workshop programme helps students prepare for entering.



During June, the University of Sussex Accelerator offers up to 30 new ventures the chance to access specialist workshops, expert advice and intern support to grow. Participants have normally engaged in other initiatives, such as Startup Sussex, prior to selection. As well as the opportunity to work with a student intern, the accelerator provides a small stipend and leads to an offer of a further 12 month incubator package.

If you are an international student you cannot engage in business activity while on a student visa. You can still talk to us for advice about your ideas and options and take part in workshops and events, as well as some competitions. Find out more about what you can do after graduation in the UK.

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