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November 17, 2020

St Paul’s launches a pilot incubator programme for young entrepreneurs

Start it Pro focuses on applications from social enterprises and those which benefit the environment and humanitarian causes.

St Paul’s School is delighted to announce the launch of Start it Pro, a pilot incubator programme designed for pupils in Year 13 of the West London Partnership and alumni who have graduated from St Paul’s School or these partner schools within the last five years.

Designed to help recent start-ups succeed by providing resources, seed funding, mentoring and training, the programme particularly encourages applications from social enterprises and concepts which have a clear remit to benefit the environment or humanitarian causes.

Nick Troen, Head of Entrepreneurship at St Paul’s School, said:

“We want to demystify the business start-up process and encourage student entrepreneurship beyond the current youth enterprise infrastructure which is mainly competition-focused rather than being about real-world business experience. For most adults, myself included, setting up a business is a daunting process and by allowing students to familiarise themselves with the responsibilities of becoming a company director and all that this entails – with the support of Start it PRO – we hope to better prepare and cultivate the next generation of socially and environmentally-minded entrepreneurs.

Key to the core ethos of Start it Pro is the availability of the incubator to students from member schools of the West London Partnership. Entrepreneurship should be available to everyone, no matter what their background and connections. Ultimately the goal of Start it Pro is to develop a strong culture of responsible entrepreneurship and innovation amongst students who have the creativity, drive and determination to be our next business superstars.”

The Start it Pro programme lasts 12 months and all applicants need to submit a comprehensive business plan and undertake a detailed interview to evaluate the viability of their start-up.  Once selected, the successful start-ups will be actively supported with access to a wide range of industry-specific mentors, pro-bono professional advice and funding, up to a maximum amount of £3,000. The successful companies will be required to present their achievements at the end of the 12 month period.

The pilot scheme is open to Year 13 pupils at St Paul’s School and its partnership state and independent schools in the West London Partnership, as well as any alumni who have graduated from those schools in the last five years.

St Paul’s has a strong record for championing entrepreneurship and is committed to evolving the support available for promising young entrepreneurs. Successful companies that have emerged from St Paul’s during the last few years include Surelight who won HSBC UK Young Enterprise Company of the Year 2018 and European Company of the Year at the European final with their innovative smart break light for bicycles; VenturePad who won HSBC Young Enterprise Company of the Year 2017 and reached the European finals with the world’s most advanced waterproof paper notebook; and AirBand who won the South London Young Enterprise Final for most innovative product in 2019 with their smart, wearable air quality sensor.

Ben Ray, Managing Director of SureLight Tech, says:

‘With the support of our business advisors from St Paul’s School, the support of the entire engineering department, and the fierce determination of 11 other Paulines, we launched a Young Enterprise team that won the UK and European Company of the Year Competitions, 2 individual awards for Leadership, and 21 awards along the way.

2-years-on and SureLight Tech is registered as a limited company in the UK.  Along with three additional Old Paulines and with the support of three current pupils, we have developed the world’s safest bike light which has launched on Kickstarter at We are excited to engage with the school’s new incubator programme, to continue to benefit from the vast support we have received, and to share our learnings and experiences with as many current Paulines as we can!”

Applications for the pilot programme close on 12 February 2021 and any alumni from St Paul’s School or its partnership schools who fulfil the criteria and are interested in applying can find out more here or can contact Nick Troen, Head of Entrepreneurship, on

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