Santander and Enterprise Nation launch university entrepreneurship competition for innovative UK businesses

  • Entries for the Santander X UK Awards 2022 are now open
  • Competition offers UK businesses opportunity to win share of £150,000 equity-free funding from Santander
  • The Santander X UK Awards 2022 recognise the most innovative and disruptive businesses to come out of UK universities 


Santander is offering university start-ups from across the UK the opportunity to win a share of £150,000 equity-free funding through the Santander X UK Awards 2022.

First launched in 2011, Santander's annual entrepreneurship awards programme is among the UK's largest student and graduate business pitching competitions. To date, it has supported hundreds of early-stage entrepreneurs and provided more than £750,000 in equity-free funding to start-ups and small businesses. Recent winners include Sojo, Chip[s] Board, Wase, Cosi Care and Konglomerate Games.

Entries for the Santander X UK Awards 2022 are now open online and there are two categories - Launch (for new businesses), and Accelerate (for growing businesses). Up to 120 entrants will be shortlisted by 7 October and will join an intensive six-week training programme throughout October and November, which will be delivered by small business support platform Enterprise Nation and its network of entrepreneurs and business experts. The training will be tailored to each category and will range from the fundamentals of business through to scaling up established companies, depending on the relevant maturity of each business. 

Having completed the training programme, entrants will compete in a two-day pitching event in November in London that will culminate in the national winners being named. The top prize for the Launch and Accelerate categories will be £15,000 and £20,000 respectively. All businesses shortlisted for the Launch category will also receive a £1,000 grant upon completion of the training programme. 

As well as funding and support, the winners of the Santander X UK Awards will also secure a place in the Santander X Global Award, Santander's international university entrepreneurship competition in which they will compete with the best university start-ups from Europe and South America in spring 2023.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK said: “Given the important role small businesses play in the UK economy, supporting young entrepreneurial talent is a key priority for Santander. We are delighted to partner with Enterprise Nation to support the high potential, early-stage start-ups coming out of universities across the UK. I wish the entrepreneurs applying to this year’s competition the very best of luck.”

Emma Jones, CBE, Founder, Enterprise Nation said: “For young people, coming up with a good idea or concept for a business is now an established career path. Offering them the right support, guidance and funding to take them to next level is vital. This awards programme from Santander is brilliant because it really enters into the spirit of competitiveness to uncover the next generation of entrepreneurs. “

The Santander X UK Awards 2022 is open to: any current student or employee at a UK University; graduates of the last five years (since 2017); and entrepreneurs in university accelerators, incubator schemes and spinout companies.

Among last year’s winners is Sojo, an app for clothing alterations and repairs which aims to make the fashion industry more sustainable by normalising alterations and repairs in preference to discarding old or damaged clothing. Since its award win in October 2021, Sojo has raised close to £2m funding and has plans to scale its services nationally this year.

Josephine Philips, Founder of Sojo, commented: “Winning the Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards last year was one of the most exciting moments on my Sojo journey so far. We were among an incredible cohort of exceptional businesses, and it was such an honour to be selected as the winner. The Santander programme, with the workshops, mentorship, interns and support, has really helped Sojo to flourish. Being an entrepreneur can be exceptionally lonely, but a real sense of community developed between all of the entrepreneurs over the course of the programme. To be connected to such a wide network of likeminded young entrepreneurs has been invaluable - I’m still in touch with many of the cohort today.”

For more information, and to apply to enter the Santander X UK Awards 2022, visit:  Applications close on Wednesday 28 September 2022. 

To learn more about the awards programme, and hear from some of the previous winners and finalists, applicants can also join a webinar on Friday 16 September from 12-12:45pm. To register for the webinar, visit:

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Santander Universities Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth, with a long-standing dedication to higher education that sets it apart from the world's other financial institutions. With over EUR €2 billion invested in academic initiatives since 2002 through Santander Universities and over 630,000 university scholarships and grants awarded since 2005, it has been recognised as the company that invests most in education in the world (Varkey/Fortune 500 Report), with 1,000 agreements in place with universities and institutions in 31 countries, of which over 80 are in the UK. Through these agreements Santander provides education, entrepreneurship and employability opportunities for university students and training and support for the growth and transformation of innovative start-ups and SMEs. For further information please visit:

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2022, the bank had around 18,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2022, Banco Santander had €1.2 trillion in total funds, 157 million customers, of which 26 million are loyal and 50 million are digital, 9,200 branches and 200,000 employees.

About Enterprise Nation Enterprise Nation is a business support platform and provider delivering support to more than 50,000 small businesses every month. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice (including a comprehensive resources library), events, acceleration support and networking. 
Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by British entrepreneur Emma Jones CBE, also co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is author of best-selling business books and a frequently called-on and regular media commentator on a range of issues which affect the UK’s growing number of SMEs.