Dragon's Den entrepreneur supports £50k student social enterprise competition

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

OnHand founder Sanjay Lobo MBE will be the keynote speaker at an inaugural event at The Shard where emerging social enterprises will pitch to esteemed industry experts for a share of a £50,000 prize fund.

University students and recent graduates need to enter funding competition Ignite by 31st July to be in with a chance of securing not only cash but expert mentoring, networking opportunities and a bespoke post event support package. It's been announced that the accomplished panel of judges overseeing the grand final on 3rd October will include:

  • Jack Ford of the Ford Family Foundation, which is launching Ignite in partnership with Durham University. Jack's financial expertise and strategic insight as a Chartered Accountant specialising in mergers and acquisitions drives business growth.
  • Award winning social entrepreneur Alex Stephany, founder of Beam - an innovative tech platform which has raised £4.5m to support 2,500 homeless people and refugees into stable jobs and homes since launching in 2017.
  • Sanjeev Baga, CEO of Jigsaw Education Group - a market leading EdTech provider of the PSHE and RE curriculum to UK and international schools.
  • Ground+Air's Jim Brown - Executive Coach, Health & Performance Specialist, Career Management & Transition Specialist. Jim works with founders, leaders, executives and high-potentials across a range of industries, sharing deep knowledge of the psychological and physiological components of optimal performance.

Ignite keynote speaker Sanjay Lobo formerly served on the exec team at Lastminute.com and Vistaprint and was awarded an MBE in 2022 for OnHand's services to older adults during Covid-19. He secured funding from four Dragons in 2023 for his business, which aims to solve some of society's biggest issues using technology. With OnHand widely perceived as a global leader for employee volunteering and environmental action, Sanjay has twice been named Great British Entrepreneur for Good.

Sanjay Lobo MBE commented: "Having come from one of South London's poorer neighbourhoods, I've seen how job, career and life choice expectations can be seriously limited from a young age. Whilst I spent a good part of my career in the commercial world, those early experiences shape my outlook and lead me squarely to delivering social good using tech. I'd like to help make that the norm and couldn't be more excited to help the Foundation encourage more people from disadvantaged backgrounds into entrepreneurial ventures."

Designed to drive positive social change, the overall winner of Ignite will receive a £20,000 impact accelerator grant to scale up their social enterprise, with a further £30,000 being shared between the other four finalists. Each entrant will need to provide a 1500 word written application or six slide pitch deck, a five minute video pitch and financial projections for the next 12 months. The shortlist of five will be announced next month.

Ignite is hosting webinars to support entrants with invaluable insights into the application and judging process. Each of the five shortlisted finalists will receive pitching support, personalised coaching sessions and brand storytelling advice from Cambio Consultancy's Peter Ptashko. Mathys & Squire is providing the event space and will guide the enterprising companies in approaching Intellectual Property to secure protection for valuable brands, technical innovations, and design rights.

For more information about Ignite, please visit ignitecomp.co.uk and to find out more about the Ford Family Foundation, please see Ford Family Foundation | Creating Social Enterprise. In the three years since inception, the Foundation has provided over £930,000 in funding across the charitable and social enterprise sectors.