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Supporting Startups

Regional Startup Accelerator

Turn your idea into a viable business through our Regional Startup Accelerator Programme offering training, mentorship, incubation space and opportunities for funding.

About the Programme

Do you have a bold, innovative idea which could boost the economy? Are you ready to take the leap and become an entrepreneur? The Regional Startup Accelerator programme from Robert Gordon University seeks to support early-stage innovators living in the North East of Scotland to develop and grow their entrepreneurial ventures.

If you have an early-stage business idea, the programme can offer you five-months of training flexible around work and studies, access to mentors and the opportunity to access equity-free seed funding from a pot worth £250,000!

The programme is open to anyone living in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire and is seeking ideas from all sectors, including those focusing on net zero innovations responding to the challenge of climate change.

Interested in applying for this year’s Regional Startup Accelerator? 

Application deadline: Sunday 9 January 2022 23:59GMT

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council as part of the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF). Additional funding has been provided by Opportunity North East to support


Benefits of the Programme

The programme offers founders a range of benefits including:

  • At least 16 structured skills development sessions in evenings or weekends
  • Access to £5,000 equity-free funding per team and additional prize funds from an overall programme fund worth up to £250,000
  • A minimum of 10 hours of one-to-one mentoring with industry experts
  • Occupancy of a free city-centre co-working office space
  • Access and use of communications tools and digital resources
  • Promotion and chance to pitch at our final Startup Showcase event

Previous teams have gone one to raise over £1.6 million in economic impact, won national awards and launched ventures. International students may be able to apply for a startup visa endorsement letter if accepted as part of the programme. Our previous startups on the programme have had the opportunity to showcase their achievements at our live events Startup Sunday in 2020 and our Innovation Showcase in 2021.


Programme Eligibility

If you are interested in applying for the competition, our criteria is:

  • The lead applicant who must be a founder of the business must define their permanent residence as being in the North East of Scotland with an Aberdeen City or Aberdeenshire postcode.
  • The business must intend to operate and create impact in the North East of Scotland.
  • The business must be early-stage and have the intention of registering an entity (as a company, social enterprise or otherwise) as a result of the programme.
  • The business must be early-stage and must not have raised more than £100,000 in investment or revenue.
  • The business must intend to have at least one founder working on the business full time within twelve months of the end of the programme.

In addition to these formal eligibility criteria, judges may consider applicants wider context such as employment status or barriers to working in order to be inclusive and offer places to applicants who may benefit most from the programme.


Programme Dates

All participants of the programme are required to attend scheduled sessions and accelerator events for the duration of the programme.

Bootcamp

Introduction to programme, value proposition and business models

  • Saturday 22 January 2022, 9:00 – 17:00

This stage will invite a shortlist of teams to take part prior to a final selection.

Phase 1: Desirability

Understanding customers, defining personas, and customer discovery

  • Tuesday 1 February 2022, 17:30 - 19:30, Online
  • Thursday 3 February 2022, 17:30 - 19:30, Online
  • Saturday 5 February 2022, 10:00 – 16:00, In-Person at the Startup Station, ONE Tech Hub. Includes additional mentor sessions.

Following the bootcamp, a final selection of teams will be invited to join the main cohort.

Phase 2: Feasibility

Understanding competitors, operations, key partners, and prototyping

  • Tuesday 22 February 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Thursday 24 February 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Saturday 26 February 2022, 10:00 – 16:00, In-Person at the Startup Station, ONE Tech Hub. Includes additional mentor sessions.

Phase 3: Viability

Setting prices, business costs, resources, funding, and scaling

  • Tuesday 15 March 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Thursday 17 March 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Saturday 19 March 2022, 10:00 – 16:00, In-Person at the Startup Station, ONE Tech Hub. Includes additional mentor sessions.

Phase 4: Adaptability

Scenario plans, measuring impact, marketing and pitches

  • Tuesday 5 April 2022, 17:30pm – 19:30pm, Online
  • Thursday 7 April 2022,17:30pm – 19:30, Online
  • Saturday 9 April 2022, 10:00 – 16:00, In-Person at the Startup Station, ONE Tech Hub. Includes additional mentor sessions

Final

Showcase preparations, action planning, and ecosystem support

  • Tuesday 26 April 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Thursday 28 April 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Saturday 30 April 2022, 10:00 – 14:00,  In-Person at the Startup Station, ONE Tech Hub
  • Tuesday 10 May 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Online
  • Thursday 12 May 2022, 17:30 – 19:30, Showcase Event 

The programme typically starts with an intensive bootcamp weekend and will then involve multiple evening and weekend sessions during that period. Beyond that the programme usually involved two evening sessions and one weekend session every three weeks, culminating in a final showcase event.


APPLY NOW

Submit your application

Applications for the Regional Startup Accelerator Programme are open until 23:59GMT on Sunday 9 January 2022. For those with a net zero business, please ensure you check that you wish to enter the climate change challenge.

Application Guidance

In order to be successful for the programme, we will look for lots of different factors to be covered in your application form:

  • Understanding of the problem: We want to see that you have a clear, realistic and demanding problem to solve, you can use evidence of how impactful this is for customers such as research or interviews.
  • Ideas which are innovative: We are looking for your idea to be easy to understand, unique and solving a real problem. We want ideas which show innovation and can scale beyond the region. However, applicants must accept that their ideas might change as part of the process.
  • Potential for growth in the market: We are looking for teams to have an idea of who their target market is and have done some research on if there are competitors. An investable high-growth company needs a sizeable market where there is high earning potential.
  • Testing of the business model: We are looking for some evidence that the business could make money and that the founders may have made some work towards their vision. This could be through revenue, users, customer interviews, a demo, a rough prototype, a patent, or other research. While we accept early stage ideas, a little testing can strengthen your application.
  • Strong entrepreneurial teams: We are looking for groups of ambitious and creative entrepreneurs with the right attitude and experience to run their business. We value team over everything else, and you need to be able to take critical feedback and adapt your business.

Application Support

If you have any questions, want to know more or want to meet with a member of the team, then get in touch at innovation@rgu.ac.uk

If you are looking for guidance to support your application, you can work through our online application advice topic which includes information, practical tips and resources.

If you want to ask questions or find out how to write the best application – join us for one of our online Information Workshops to meet with a member of our team and find out more. The sessions take place on Zoom and will run on:

  • Monday 29 November 2021 – 13:00 - 14:00
  • Wednesday 15 December 2021 – 13:00 - 14:00

As you prepare your application, we encourage you to write and save this on a Word Document before submitting through F6S to make sure you have a saved copy. Download our free template:

Application Information Pack and Terms and Conditions

Before you submit your application, please review our information pack with the terms and conditions for both the competition and the accelerator. By submitting an application, you will need to agree to these terms.


Programme Funders

The North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund is a £14.3 million investment by the Scottish Government to support economic recovery and enhance skill levels in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire though key sector growth, employment, training, and skills development opportunities.

The Fund is delivering twenty-nine employment, upskilling and reskilling, and business growth and innovation projects that will benefit more than 3,000 people across the region. The projects focus on entrepreneurship, accelerated business start-up, development and growth; increasing digital skills in the workforce; equality and inclusion; and upskilling and reskilling people to enter or remain in work and take advantage of new, green jobs as part of the energy transition.

Additional seed funding and cash prizes to support high-potential teams to create a greater impact in the region has been kindly contributed by Opportunity North East from their NEERSF allocation for accelerator programmes in the region.

The North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund delivery partners are Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Skills Development Scotland, Robert Gordon University, University of Aberdeen, Opportunity North East, Energy Transition Zone Limited, and Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. Funding support has been provided by the Scottish Funding Council.

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Contacts

If you have questions about RGU’s startup support or accelerator programmes, get in touch on innovation@rgu.ac.uk

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