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The Small Business Clinic will not be operating in the 2019/20 academic year. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Z21 Innovation Fund | Apply for pre-seed funding to develop your startup ideas

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The Z21 Innovation Fund is a collaboration between the Web Science Institute (WSI) at the University of Southampton and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  The mission of the Fund is to accelerate University of Southampton Web startups towards investment and rapid growth and create high-tech jobs in the Solent region.

The Z21 Innovation Fund is seeking applications from potential ventures to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), achieve product market fit, and gain traction with users.  Applicants can apply for funding up to £6,300 for a 3-month MVP Project.  At the end of this period, MVP Projects will present to the Z21 Grant and Investment Panel and will have the opportunity to apply for Pre-Seed funding up to £31,500.  The award of an MVP grant does not guarantee progression to the Pre-Seed stage: progression is determined by the Grant and Investment Panel, based on the success of the MVP stage.

All successful projects will receive support from Future Worlds, a University of Southampton on-campus startup incubator which has a valuable external network of mentors, investors and experts.  Future Worlds will offer acceleration, helping projects with value proposition, market product fit, and making introductions to mentors.  This support will continue through the Pre-Seed stage with help to script, film and edit a professional pitch video.  Pre-Seed Projects will be invited to a Demo Day to pitch to investors.

To apply for MVP funding, please download and read the Technical Guidance for Applicants and complete the Application Form and return to Susan Davies at

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Tuesday 14 May 2019. There will be further Calls in 2019.

We are only able to accept applications from students or staff studying or working at the University of Southampton.  Note that students who have graduated may apply within one year of graduating.

Successful applicants will be notified on Monday 20 May and will be invited to attend an interview with the Z21 Grant and Investment Panel on Tuesday 21 May 2019If there are particular times on Tuesday 21 May that you would not be able to attend for interview, please notify Susan Davies when submitting your application.

Funded MVP Projects will run from 1 July to 30 September 2019.

If you have any questions about the application, the stages of the Z21 Innovation Fund, the eligibility criteria, and the operating processes, please contact Ben Clark

For more information about Z21, please visit the WSI website



Gain initial funding to develop your idea and benefit from £150,000 worth of support to accelerate your digital innovation


Funding: Stage one, MVP – £6,300 to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Stage two (subject to successfully completing stage one), £31,500 pre-seed funding to develop the startup

Matched University in-kind support: c.£37,000 value

Google cloud credits: up to £80,000

Opportunity for further partner benefits worth up to £1m

Future Worlds acceleration activity

−        Mentoring on campus and a network of founders, executives and investors

−        Startup video production

−        Profile on the Future Worlds web platform

−        Access to the Future Worlds Accelerator Space

Seminar 4: The Basics of Employing Staff

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On 28 Nov 2018, the SBC held it’s fourth seminar, ‘The Basics of Employing Staff: What does a start up business need to know?’. The seminar was delivered by employment solicitor Charlotte Allery, from Coffin Mew LLP. Download the lecture slides here: Seminar 28 Nov 2018


Seminar 3: Running a business and legal issues

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On 21 Nov 2018, the SBC held it’s third seminar, ‘Running a business and legal issues: Intellectual property, data protection and managing your contracts’. The seminar was delivered by commercial solicitor Andrew Jerrard, from Coffin Mew LLP. Download the lecture slides here: Seminar Nov 21st 2018IMG_4233

Meet our clients

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Former SBC clients, Przemek, Maciej and Mauro, have come a long way since first attending the clinic. In 2017, the former University of Southampton students established Researchably, a biomedical search engine using AI algorithms to increase the relevance of results to every researcher. Here’s their original pitch: First Pitch

Team @ Demo Day.jpeg

Seminar 2: Corporate Law and Start-Ups

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On 14 Nov 2018, the SBC held it’s second seminar, ‘Corporate Law and Start-Ups: The roles and responsibilities of directors and shareholders in setting up and growing a company’. The seminar was delivered by James Kitching, corporate solicitor for Coffin Mew LLP. Download the lecture slides here: Seminar Nov 14th 2018IMG_4228

Seminar 1: Should you become your own boss?

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On 7 Nov 2018, the SBC’s first seminar, ‘Should you become your own boss?’, was delivered by Clinic Consultant Renold Tang. Steve Brewer, CEO and founder of Infoculture Ltd, also spoke about his experience building his own company, and the assistance he received from the SBC. Download the lecture slides here: Seminar Nov 7th 2018