Frequently Asked


Who can take part?

Future Founders

Students, alumni, researchers and staff from our University Partners, as well as those living within our four Ingenuity Regions, who are interested in setting up an impact-led business.


Regional Pioneers

Individuals from corporate, small and medium sized enterprises, or public and third sector organisations, who want to volunteer within existing organisations to help create, implement and support new impact driven enterprise.



Industry professionals and entrepreneurs who volunteer to work with a group at one or more of the mentoring sessions. They will work with innovators offering guidance and advice on creating new business models through to specialist Challenge related knowledge.


How do I apply?

Applications to take part in the Ingenuity 20/21 Programme are open until 28 February 2021. There is a short application form, and three online courses to complete on Ingenuity’s Develop Platform.

Mentors can sign up to join the programme until 8 March 2021.

How many Challenges can I apply for?

Future Founders can apply to take part in one Challenge. There will be an option on your application form to indicate which Challenge pathway you have chosen. You will be able to attend any of the other Challenge Summits and access relevant resources on the Develop Platform should you wish. Please indicate which additional Summits you would like to attend when you submit your application form.

What level of commitment is expected?

The Ingenuity Programme takes place from February 2021 to May 2021. To be eligible for pitching and prizes, you must have worked through at least 20 hours of the Develop Platform and engaged with your Challenge Summit and Mentoring Session. This can be through attending the live online events, or catching up on keynote recordings on the Develop Platform.

If your business plan is shortlisted, you will be expected to submit a video pitch, and may be invited to attend the National Finals and Impact Evening.

Do I have to attend the full-day of my Challenge Summit?

All Future Founders and Regional Pioneers will need to sign in at the start of the day. The event is set up as a full-day conference (9am – 5pm), which will give you a 360 degree view of the issues they are interested in, and different place-based approaches to addressing those issues.
We will be recording sessions for those unable to make the full day due to work or extenuating circumstances, and will send session times out to you prior to the event.
It is compulsory for participants to attend the Mentoring Session in full (9am – 1.30pm) on your selected date.

What level of commitment is expected for mentors?

We would like mentors to be part of at least one of the Mentoring Sessions, which is a half-day commitment. There is also the opportunity to take part in ad-hoc mentoring from March to May 2021. Mentors can be part of just one, or all four Challenge mentoring sessions depending on your areas of expertise and capacity.

What is the Develop Platform?

The Develop Platform will enable you to decide on your area of focus via the initial application, and then create your business plan once you have developed that idea further at the Summits. Once you have completed your application form, you will be issued with login details to access the Develop Platform.

Should I focus on an idea for my UK region, or can our proposal be based abroad?

Your idea should address a key issue in your local area or region, with the ambition that it can be scaled up and implemented across the UK eventually. Your solution may impact on communities and environments outside of the UK but your primary focus should be the development of society and the environment within the UK. We will provide you with tools and support on the Develop Platform to help you make a scalable business model.

Can I take part even if I have no formal business qualifications?

Yes. The Ingenuity Programme has been designed to be accessible to people with a range of experiences and professional/academic backgrounds. The Develop Platform will provide you with all the tools, training and knowledge needed to help you set up a new business venture.

Do you have to be part of a team, or can you join as an individual?

You can apply either as an individual or take part as a team of up to four.

There will be opportunities during the Ingenuity events to meet other participants, discuss your idea with others and have some peer-to-peer support alongside the mentoring. You may also find fellow participants who love your idea, and want to work with you to develop it. Similarly, you may meet someone and decide to develop a new idea with them.

How will you identify my team members if I am applying with a team of up to four people?

All team members must complete the initial application form to apply. There is an option in the form to input your team name so we can identify every member. We also ask your team members to do this so we can comply with the Equality and Diversity Act, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Can I take part in Ingenuity if I already have a business idea?

Yes, but the product must be at pre-trading, or have started trading no more than 12 months at the time of applying.

To be eligible for pitching and prizes, you must have worked through at least 20 hours of the Develop Platform and engaged with your Challenge Summit and Mentoring Session. This can be through attending the live online events, or catching up on keynote recordings on the Develop Platform.

At the business plan and pitching stage of the programme, judges will only consider material provided through the official Ingenuity submission form. Any additional materials given to assessors or judges will be ignored.

Can I take part in Ingenuity if I have already been awarded investment or funding for my business idea?

Ingenuity is not open to businesses who have already received investment, assigned equity, or significant grants and awards previously. In short, we look at how much impact our funding could have. For example, if you have already raised £1million then a £50,000 loan or grant is unlikely to offer the impact we would like.


Ingenuity provides first-time funding as investments and grants for early-stage business ideas.


If you have already received grant funding or investment for your business idea, and would like to check whether you are eligible to take part in the programme, contact Enquiries will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Can I take part in Ingenuity if I have already participated in previous years?

Yes, but your business or idea must not have received investment or been assigned equity. Any grants or awards in the past two years must be declared at the time of applying or throughout the Ingenuity Programme. You cannot have won a prize at previous Ingenuity Competitions (2016 – 2019).

Is there a limit to the number of participants who can enter from one university?

No, all events and activities will be online for Ingenuity 20/21 and there is no upper limit for participants.

Is there a limit to the number of participants who can enter from an organisation?

No, however you will need approval from your employer to take part in the Programme.

Does Ingenuity encourage individuals from all backgrounds to take part?

Yes, Ingenuity is committed to eliminating unjustified discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity and good relations across and between equality groups. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, disability, age, race/ethnicity, religion, philosophical belief or sexual orientation.

If I have a disability will I still be able to take part in Ingenuity?

Yes, the programme is open to all individuals, including those with disabilities. If you have a disability, please let us know if there are any reasonable adjustments we can make to enable your participation. All activity for the 20/21 programme is online.

Is there an age limit?

No, there is no age limit for taking part in Ingenuity. All participants must be over the age of 18 at the time of applying to take part however.

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