BSEEN firms praised in Santander enterprise awards

santander awards pr

10 July 2017

  • Aston University graduates reach semi-final of Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 

Two businesses started up by Aston University’s enterprising graduates have received praise at the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards semi-finals.

The Central Semi-Final, which took place on 29th June in University of Wolverhampton’s new business school, involved 20 businesses pitching their businesses to be in with a chance of winning a place in the National Final.

Out of over 2,000 entrepreneurs engaged in universities across the UK, 60 of the best businesses were selected to compete at three regional finals. 12 finalists are chosen with the opportunity to pitch their business at the national final and be in with the chance to win over £20,000 for growing their business.

Aston University had two businesses entered into the central semi-final. Designer eye wear brand Josh Fano was chosen to represent the University in the post-revenue category and Green Sisters were chosen to pitch their gluten free, egg free, vegetarian Indian food business in the pre-revenue category.

After hearing all the pitches, the judges selected two businesses from both the pre-revenue and post-revenue category to win a place in the national finals. The audience also got their chance to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

It was a great result for both businesses as Green Sisters won a place in the National Finals and Josh Fano won the People’s Choice Award. Both businesses won a selection of helpful resources to help with their business, some funding and a place on the accelerator week.

Both businesses will now be working on using the resources and funding to help grow and develop their businesses, with Green Sisters preparing themselves for the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award National Final in September 2017.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, said: “At Santander we have made a long term commitment to support higher education and we are proud to take an active role in fostering entrepreneurship among university students. Young people are the business leaders of the future and universities play an important role in nurturing their talent. We cannot underestimate the importance of the nation’s budding entrepreneurs in our communities and at Santander we want to ensure we reward and encourage students to invest, innovate, create and be entrepreneurial.”

Both Green Sisters and Josh Fano were able to set up their businesses by taking a place on the Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network (BSEEN) programme, of which Aston University is lead partner. The programme offers students and graduates a great package of intensive start-up support for new ventures. Successful participants benefit from a variety of workshops, networking opportunities, tailored mentoring, grants, and workspace.

Carolyn Keenan, BSEEN Project Manager said: “I am really impressed by Reena and Aditya. Both businesses have real commercial potential and we are proud for them to represent Aston University. This is a reflection of the importance the University places on enterprise and entrepreneurial activity. It is an honour to have supported both graduates through the BSEEN programme.”

The BSEEN programme is always looking for business mentors who are keen to share their expertise and knowledge, guiding fledgling business owners to help them feel inspired and confident to succeed.

If you are interested in applying for BSEEN or becoming a mentor, you can find out more information by visiting


Notes to the editor

  • Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey. 

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