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DMU retains top 10 status for UK universities with most student and graduate start-ups


For the second year in a row, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has ranked in the top 10 British universities with the most student and graduate start-ups.

In total, 140 new businesses were launched by DMU students and graduates in the 2020/21 academic year – an increase of 12 on the previous year’s figures. The rise has helped the university climb from eighth to seventh in the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) rankings.

Start up business

Underpinning the university’s continued success in developing entrepreneurial students is the newly rebranded DMU Entrepreneurship team, which mentors hundreds of students and graduates each year through a variety of in-person and online events.

The announcement comes not long after the restart of the DMUglobal Enterprise trips, where students have visited both Los Angeles to get a greater insight into how to run a business from entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

Simon Baines, DMU Entrepreneurship manager, said: “This is a fantastic result for us and all involved in delivering activities relating to entrepreneurship at DMU, but more so, it is a real testament to our phenomenal students and graduates who engage.

“We set out a couple of years ago to position DMU Entrepreneurship alongside faculty-wide initiatives like DMU Sport and DMU Global and the response we have had since is fantastic.

“Research shows that a rapidly increasing number of students are starting businesses during their studies and more graduates are seeing self-employment as a viable and attractive option. 

“It isn’t just about starting businesses though, we’re here to support and empower any student or graduate who would like to develop entrepreneurial skills whether they want to apply them within their own venture or in a job.

“We encourage anybody interested to get in touch or visit dmumade.com and get involved”.

DMU Global
A snapshot of the recent DMUglobal trip to Los Angeles

This year’s result is a far cry from just two years ago when DMU was ranked 21st in the country. To help increase the business support available to the university’s students and graduates, DMU Entrepreneurship has since launched online start-up schools, its Launchpad programme, a Graduate Champions Start-up Catapult programme, the Pitch2Win competition, supported by the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity and much more. 

This academic year also saw the highest number of applications to the team’s flagship Enterprise Placement Year, which enables five second-year students to pause their studies for 12 months to concentrate on building their business ideas into new start-ups. 

Among them is Fashion Design student Nayaab Mahomed, who has already found success by co-designing award-winning Joy Crookes’ outfit for the Brit Awards.

She is hoping her fashion business, For Those Who Don’t Belong, will benefit from the £3,000 funding investment that is awarded to students on the placement year.

Nayaab said: “This is the perfect opportunity for me to start my brand. It will not only allow me to dedicate my time to building my business, but also give me access to expert advice. I can't wait to start!”

In total, 280 students signed up for the 2021 online summer school and the team has delivered more than 150 one-to-one support appointments with students from more than 15 nationalities since September 2021.

Another business support programme open to graduates is The Crucible, coordinated by Senior Enterprise Lecturer Percy Emmett and the Enterprise and Business Relations team.

The Crucible is DMU’s award-winning business incubation programme that helps final-year students and alumni. Offering a free programme of support led by mentors from the business world, office space, makers’ space, and one-to-one coaching.

Now in its fourth year, the 12-month programme has been highlighted by Research England as an exemplar of University start-up support.

In 2021, the DMU Made online platform was launched to showcase creative businesses run by students, graduates and staff. Each business has a dedicated page with information about the founder and links to buy their products and services.

The website also includes masterclasses, awards, a podcast, one-to-one mentoring appointments, local business news and events as well as ‘how to’ videos.

It’s part of the university’s commitment to developing the next generation of entrepreneurs in Leicester. A 2022 study from accounting software developers FreeAgent that 2 in 3 Brits (64%) plan to start their own business at some point in the future with 80% of respondents aged between 18-34 revealing they have always dreamt of starting their own business.

Richard Bowden, Interim Head of Graduate Success, said: “Supporting the entrepreneurial ambitions of our students is a pivotal part of our work at DMU.

“Helping students take those daunting and challenging first steps to set up their own business is something that the Enterprise Team in DMUworks do tremendously well. Our rise in the league table reflects the great work they do and also the creative, resilient and dynamic nature of our students.”

Posted on Monday 13th June 2022

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