Guardian University Award for Enterprise


Leeds has won a national Guardian University Award for its enterprising approach to supporting students.

It scooped up the award at the Guardian University Awards for “encouraging a spirit of creativity and self-belief that helps students to launch their own enterprises.”

It's one of many awards recognising the University's entrepreneurial spirit, having been named Entrepreneurial University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards in 2015.

The InTechnology Incubator project, which helps new graduates looking to set up in business, proved to be the winning initiative for the Guardian awards. 

Providing a much-needed physical space on campus, it offers the full package of business advice, practical support and access to financial assistance.


Sophie TregellisOne of the first entrepreneurs to use the Incubator is Sophie Tregellis, whose hobby of making dog treats has now developed into a thriving business called Top Collar, with customers across the UK.  

Collecting the award was Kairen Skelley, Business Start-Up Manager at the University, who was also announced as a National Enterprise Educator Champion in 2015.  

The Enterprise Incubator is a wonderful asset both for the University and for the city.

Kairen Skelley

The incubator project, built on Alumni support, has been a key milestone in delivering entrepreneurship at the University, which has a long track record of supporting student entrepreneurs, with enterprise scholarships, a ‘Year in Enterprise’ programme and nationally-acclaimed student business start-up service SPARK.

Award-winning initiative in numbers

The InTechnology Incubator project delivered, in its first year:

  • 50 start-ups housed 
  • 75 full time equivalent jobs created  
  • £300k  external funding leveraged 
  • £1.1million revenue generated
  • 90% of businesses we have supported are still operating one year on

Outstanding business partnership 

The University’s partnership with M&S was also shortlisted in the Guardian University Awards. 

The partnership brings together an international FTSE 100 business – with roots in the city of Leeds – with a leading Russell Group university.

Physically embodied in the M&S Company Archive on campus, it develops key research opportunities, student employability skills and supports business innovation.

Recent collaborations include work placement opportunities, students becoming company ambassadors and M&S supporting students of Leeds University Business School with a mentoring scheme.

M&S and the University also runs online innovation courses (a MOOC), Shwopping campaigns, “On Your Marks” networking lectures and M&S Company Archive events for local businesses and the community.

Partnership in M&S, combining research, educational and business impact. Since the start of the Partnership in 2012:

  • Over 7,000 students have benefitted from skills training delivered by M&S 
  • Over 150 students have taken part in work placements
  • Over £7.4m joint research activity has been secured
  • The Innovation MOOC attracted over 26,000 learners worldwide and, being a CPD Accredited course, supported the develop of over 150 staff in M&S. 
  • Over 3,000 people have attended the ‘On Your Marks’ Networking Series  
  • Over 5,000 items of clothing were donated for recycling during the Shwopping campaigns

Further information

The winners were announced at the Guardian University Awards ceremony on 16 March

Contact the University of Leeds press office on or call 0113 343 4031