Students show entrepreneurial spark


Two young entrepreneurs are forging ahead with business start-ups following backing from the University of Leeds.

Graduate Harry Simpson and current student Rosie Musk are Spark scholars. The Spark programme offers free support to enable University of Leeds students and graduates set up their own business.

Beekeeping might seem an unlikely way to make a living to some, but it has absolutely flown for 21-year-old Harry, who graduated in summer 2023. Moss Nook Honey is fast approaching a turnover of £1m.

In his first year of studying for a BSc degree in Economics, Harry entered the Business Plan competition, which offers six prizes for pre-trading businesses and businesses that are already up-and-running. He got through to the second round and, although he didn’t win, he was advised to apply for a Spark scholarship.

I found getting the scholarship massively helpful. I spent the £3,000 grant on stock such as fully assembled beehives and building a website which has been instrumental to my business.”

Harry Simpson, Moss Nook Honey


A Spark Enterprise Scholarship comes with a £3,000 grant and tailored business support including access to office space and advisers for current students. 

Harry and Rosie also entered the Spark Business Plan competition, which offers prizes of up to £2,000.

They are now encouraging past and present students to enter the competition, which launched this month, to help them launch a new initiative or product.

"I found getting the scholarship massively helpful," said Harry. "I spent the £3,000 grant on stock such as fully assembled beehives and building a website which has been instrumental to my business."

Harry started Moss Nook Honey in 2019 as a one-stop shop for honey. He also sells all types of equipment including hives, tools, honey extraction equipment and suits for those wanting to get into beekeeping. His affordable beehives help people to take up the hobby without breaking the bank. 

"We want to make it as easy as possible to set up a hive as it can be a time-consuming and intricate process," he said.

He sells fully constructed hives with assembled frames as well as flat packed hives to suit all tastes. He can also provide different sized colonies of bees. 

In addition, he offers commercial farmers across the country the opportunity to use his beehives to help pollinate their crops, allowing them to gain a higher yield of up to 25%. 

Harry took over another company called Simon The Beekeeper this year and is going global – selling across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and now wants to set up in the US. 

Team Rosie Fitness Training

Picture of Rosie Marsh


Rosie Musk took a leap into the unknown during Covid lockdown and landed on her feet. 

Many businesses were halted in their tracks during the pandemic, but Rosie spotted an opportunity to develop her passion for fitness into a viable business. 

She named her online fitness classes Team Rosie Fitness Training and saw it take off as people were unable to go far from home to exercise. 

Because of Covid, Rosie deferred her place at the University of Leeds for two years, but on arriving in the city to study for a BA degree in Business Management with Marketing, her desire to develop a business grew. 

She actively sought out funding opportunities and was delighted when her application for an Enterprise Scholarship was successful. 

“The workshops were invaluable.  In fact, the wider learning was more important than the money.” 

Rosie Musk, Team Rosie Fitness Training

“As part of the scholarship, I went to Boot Camp last December. There were about 15 of us and we attended courses and workshops teaching us how to grow our businesses by creating robust business plans and acquiring skills such as public speaking,” she said.

“We learnt a lot from each other, about the journeys we were making, what succeeded and what didn’t.” 

She went on to gain further funding by winning the Business Plan Competition in 2023, enabling her to buy a laptop and a quality microphone to better film her workouts. 

“The workshops were invaluable,” she said. “In fact, the wider learning was more important than the money.” 

She secured a £1,000 Proof of Concept grant two months later. This fund is made available to current undergraduates at the University, postgraduates and those that have graduated within the last seven years. It is just for those businesses based in the Leeds City Region.

The funding provides support for projects that are in the early stages of development and can be spent on such areas as marketing, materials and equipment, mentoring and professional services such as accountants, and appropriate travel and subsistence costs. 

The impact of Spark 

Despite a year of economic turmoil, the number of business start-ups continues to rise according to the Spark Impact Report 2023

During 2022 to 2023, the programme resulted in 65 business start-ups, creating 82 jobs and generating a revenue of more than £6m. The start-ups have also leveraged £400,000 in external funding, demonstrating the confidence investors have in these fledgling businesses. 

Kairen Skelley, Head of Spark at the University of Leeds, said: “Our innovative, creative and highly motivated students and graduates are forming unique ventures. 

“As ever, the donations from our alumni and local businesses are vital to what we do and our continued thanks goes to them. 

“Our offering is sophisticated, sustainable, consistent and robust and long may this continue.” 

For more information

For more information contact Jane Lewis, Corporate Communications Officer, on