UK graduates raise millions through startup programme

A graduate scheme for entrepreneurs reveals that the 2012 class have raised £15m in seed funding.

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Seed funding of £15m from a new UK startup programme has helped a group of 31 graduates to establish businesses.

The graduates selected for the Entrepreneur First startup scheme have formed 13 companies, it was announced at an event in London's Guildhall on Tuesday.

The non-profit Entrepreneur First programme — which counts Microsoft, Silicon Valley Bank and the City of London corporation among its core sponsors — aims to turn some of the UK's most talented students into founders of high-growth tech startups.

Before gaining a place on the programme, which runs out of Google Campus in  Tech City , each individual must go through three seperate interviews with a successful entrepreneur, an investor and the founders of Entrepreneur First.

A total of 600 people applied to join the programme last year, but only 31 were chosen. Once selected for the programme, the graduates spent six months building a team, developing an idea and accelerating their businesses to the stage where they could take seed funding.

Companies established by the graduates include a startup called StreetHub, an online click-and-collect service that helps people find and reserve products in boutique shops, before collecting and paying for them later, and Blaze Components, which sells bike lights that project a laser image of a cyclist onto the road to make cyclists more visible to drivers.  

A further 36 students have now been selected for the second year of the Entrepreneur First programme.