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Business & Economy

University of Sunderland pledges support to startups by partnering with regional competition

Regional startup competition, the If We Can You Can (IWCYC) Challenge, has announced that it will once again collaborate with the University of Sunderland for the fifth consecutive year.

Joining the list of North East companies also backing the Challenge this year, the University of Sunderland has been named as an Educational Partner and will support the competition through its experience in providing students with essential information in connecting with the wider regional business community.

Laura Foster, ERDF Internships and Enterprise Place Manager at the University of Sunderland, said: “The University of Sunderland offers a fantastic service for our students and graduates who are interested in starting up a business. Funded by ERDF, The Enterprise Place gives students access to free hot desking space including equipment, 121 business support and access to funding.

“We are proud to partner with the Challenge for the fifth year as we can really see the benefits and the confidence it develops in our startup entrepreneurs.”

Ahead of its 11th edition this autumn, the IWCYC Challenge has also gained the support of Newcastle University’s Business School and START UP programme, Teesside University & Launchpad team, alongside the enterprise team from Durham University.

The competition, which has been organised by FIRST for the past five years, aims to inspire and connect startups, professionals and young graduates to the wider business community. IWCYC’s goal is to promote the North East’s upcoming talent while also raising awareness about the crucial impact new enterprises can have on local economy.

Fern Snailham, Sunderland IWCYC finalist and founder of Uneek Staffing, said: “The IWCYC Challenge was an amazing opportunity to be part of. It helped develop my business pitch, public speaking and provided lots of networking opportunities.

“The IWCYC team really make this something special and are so supportive. From participating in the Challenge I grew my network of contacts, secured new contracts and received great press. I would highly recommend anyone to enter the Challenge.”

The three IWCYC Challenge startup awards categories are for anyone in the North East, of any age, with a business less than three years old. Aside from the challenge’s mentoring scheme, the competition also offers a range of prizes for winners including a mentoring package from PNE Enterprise, a tailored legal package with Mincoffs Solicitors, six months rent-free in BIC’s innovation space in Sunderland and so much more.

Charlotte Windebank, managing director and founder of FIRST, said: “Our partners are what makes the IWCYC Challenge possible and so impactful for the startups that enter.

“Laura and the team work tirelessly to develop their student and graduate entrepreneurs’ confidence and we are privileged to be part of the support The Enterprise Place offers local talent. We look forward to working with them for many more years to come.”

Entries are still open for the 2019 IWCYC Challenge. For more information and advice on how to apply, visit