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Innovative businesses ready for lift off

27 September 2023


Six innovative new businesses have been awarded a total of £32,300 funding and chosen to join the latest cohort of a highly successful start-up development programme offered by Teesside University

Businesses taking part in the Launchpad FUEL programme
Businesses taking part in the Launchpad FUEL programme

The six graduate enterprises, which range from a digital prototyping service for the fashion industry to a social enterprise making retro arcade games, are the latest businesses to join the University’s Launchpad FUEL programme.

The programme, which is now in its seventh year, offers a package of support of student, graduate and staff business, including dedicated office space at the University’s business incubator, Teesside Launchpad, expert mentoring and coaching and business workshops and networking opportunities.

At the end of an intensive seven-week programme, businesses are given the opportunity to pitch to funders for a share of graduate funding.

This year, the six businesses selected for grant funding were:

  • Tribe Vision - A creative fashion studio offering digital prototyping services to the fashion industry using Clo-3D technology.
  • Zara King Designs - Zara has created Easy Mode, an innovative reusable bed pan solution that prevents spillages, reducing time, money and increasing dignity for the patient.
  • Sunday Girl Magazine - a community and female empowerment movement which raises aspirations for young girls promoting the creative industries. This business consists of a high-end magazine, events, podcasts, networking, workshops and an online presence.
  • Digital Marketing Solutions - An all-in-one digital marketing business providing services integrated with software tools and AI to SMEs.
  • PIXLcade - A community interest company creating innovative and fun retro arcade games using recycled technology to address digital poverty.
  • Northern Made - A video marketing company specialising in storytelling for businesses using long-form content.
Launchpad FUEL is one of an array of initiatives offered by Teesside University as part of it mission to embed entrepreneurialism across its curriculum and support the growth of the region’s economy through the creation of innovative and successful businesses.

It feels like I'm part of a community of like-minded people and everyone is happy to help.

Zara King, founder of Zara King Designs

This approach has seen businesses founded by Teesside University students having some of the highest turnover in the country and the viability of its graduate enterprises ranking as the best in the region.*

Head of Enterprise at Teesside University, Steve Dogan, said: “We are delighted to welcome these six new businesses to the FUEL programme.

“With its mixture of funding, business accommodation and expert mentoring, FUEL is responsible for the ongoing success of some of the region’s most exciting and innovative businesses.

“I am sure that this latest cohort of FUEL businesses is destined for similar accomplishments and I look forward to working with them further.”

Zara King, the founder of Zara King Designs, said being accepted on the programme was one of the proudest days of her life. She plans to use the funding to manufacture a prototype of her invention, the EasyMode Reusable Bedpan, which offers improved toileting for bed bound patients in healthcare settings.

Zara added: “The FUEL programme is so much more than the funding. The things have learnt over the seven weeks have been worth their weight in gold.

“It feels like I'm part of a community of like-minded people and everyone is happy to help, there is no such thing as a stupid question on FUEL.

“I think for anyone who is considering FUEL in the future, they need to know that even if you might be nervous or don't have the confidence, just go for it.

“Everyone wants you to succeed and the level of support from the team is incredible.”

* HESA Intellectual property: Spin-off activities by HE provider 2014/15 to 2021/22 table, sourced from Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction survey data.

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