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Innovation Accelerator

Supporting Startups

Innovation Accelerator

Turn your innovative idea to solve global challenges into impactful ventures by applying for our Innovation Accelerator programme with training, mentorship, co-working space, and funding.

About the Programme

Have you got an innovative idea which could solve global problems? Do you want to launch impactful new ventures? The RGU Innovation Accelerator is a five-month programme of training, support and funding for teams of entrepreneurial students, staff or alumni from RGU and North East Scotland College (NESCol).

Recognising the dramatic change the world has undergone as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, our programme has been adapted to fit the global circumstances to focus on teams solving specific challenges. The Innovation Accelerator builds on and evolves from two successful cohorts of the RGU Startup Accelerator but expands our focus to include innovative projects, social enterprises and initiatives as well as startups.

Teams who have participated in RGU accelerators have gone on to raise over £1.4 million in investment or revenue and create over thirty jobs for the economy – could your idea be next?


Benefits of the Programme

The programme offers founders a range of benefits including:

  • Structured online skills development sessions
  • Dedicated mentorship
  • Occupancy of a free city-centre co-working office space
  • Connection with external subject matter experts
  • Invitations and participation on a range of networking events
  • Access and use of communications tools
  • Access to £2,000 of seed funding
  • Opportunity to present at a final showcase event
  • Opportunity for international students to gain a two-year Startup Visa endorsement letter

About the Challenges

The competition is open to a diversity of ideas from entrepreneurs from every subject area, however we look for the impact of your project to align with one of three challenges which include:

Our Society – Recover from the challenges of COVID-19

Your idea should help industries adapt and be future proof through designing new products and services which build on trends such as remote working, e-commerce, protective healthcare and more. Your innovation could range from medical technologies focusing on the virus itself, to new service models for disrupted industries such as education, entertainment or otherwise.

Our People – Design solutions to reduce inequality

Your idea should consider approaches to providing access to food, shelter, education, economic opportunities, civil rights, environment or care to allow them to succeed. Communities affected could range from children, to disadvantaged groups, to cities and towns where barriers to better prospects exist. Your innovation may directly tackle poverty or rights or may have a wider purpose by can be used as a tool for the advancement of all.

Our Wellbeing – Create new health and wellbeing solutions

Your idea should help improve individuals physical or mental health through ideas which impact challenges such as depression, anxiety, isolation, disease, injury, illness, obesity, stress, nutrition or productivity. Your innovation may directly support health practitioners through new treatment or technology, or support individuals directly to take action to live healthier and fulfilling lives including concepts to around travel, lifestyle and education

In addition, we want all ideas to be sustainable create a positive impact on the environment and contribute to a net zero society. These challenges have been designed to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 10 – Reduce Inequalities, 3 – Good health and wellbeing), Public Health Scotland and Scottish Government.


Programme Requirements

If you're interested in applying for the competition, this is the criteria we are looking for:

  • Connection to RGU or NESCol: At least one member of the founding team for the business should be a current student, staff member or alumni of RGU or NESCol.
  • New Concepts: The idea should be in an early stage with some testing but not yet created impact for longer than twelve months such as generating income or investment or achieving significant social impacts.
  • Scotland Based: The founding team should be located in Scotland with the intention of setting up their headquarters in Scotland.
  • Impact-Focused: Selected teams should align with the identified challenges and seek to create impact in these areas.

In order to be successful for the programme, we are looking for the following to come through in your application form:

  • Understanding of the problem: We want to see that you have a clear, realistic and demanding problem to solve, you can use evidence of how impactful this is for individuals such as research or interviews.
  • Ideas which are creative: We are looking for your idea to be easy to understand, unique and solving a real problem. However, applicants must accept that their ideas might change as part of the process.
  • Potential for growth in the market: We are looking for teams to have an idea of who their target market is and have done some research on if there are competitors. We want to see ambitious and impactful ideas which have the ability to grow.
  • Testing of the implementation model: We are looking for some evidence that the concept could make money and that the founders may have made some work towards their vision. This could be through having test users, customer interviews, a demo, a rough prototype, a patent, or other research. While we accept early stage ideas, a little testing can strengthen your application.
  • Strong entrepreneurial teams: We are looking for groups of ambitious and creative entrepreneurs with the right attitude and experience to run their venture. We value team over everything else, and you need to be able to take critical feedback and adapt your business.

The accelerator programme is run by the RGU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group and is funded by the Wood Foundation. The programme works in partnership with NESCol as part of the TWO PLUS alliance, and Opportunity North East as part of the ONE Tech Hub in Schoolhill which all RGU start-ups (digital or not) will have access to


Programme Dates

The programme will include five-months of training and is designed to be flexible with sessions in evenings or weekends. The competition will open for applications where a shortlist will be selected by a panel of judges to take part in a week-long bootcamp after which a selection will be invited to join the cohort. Everyone who applies must be able to attend all the online sessions as outlined, with dates subject to change.

Bootcamp: Introduction to Programme, Business Models, Pitching and Testing

This stage will invite a shortlist of teams to take part prior to a final selection.

  • Tuesday 2 February 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Wednesday 3 February 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 4 February 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 6 February, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Phase 1: Identifying Customer Channels, Marketing, Branding, Relationships

Following the bootcamp, a final selection of teams will be invited to join the main cohort.

  • Tuesday 16 February 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 18 February 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 27 February 2021, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Phase 2: Understanding Competitors, Operations, Key Partners, Business Basics

  • Tuesday 2 March 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 4 March 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 13 March 2021, 10:00pm – 4:00pm

Phase 3: Setting Prices, Business Costs, Resources Funding, Scaling

  • Tuesday 16 March 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 18March 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 27 March 2021, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Phase 4: Pitch Training, Business Planning, Investment Options, Semi Finals

  • Tuesday 13 April 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 15 April 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Tuesday 27 April 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 29 April 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Saturday 8 May 2021, 10:00am – 2:00pm

Final: Showcase Preparations, Investment Preparation, Showcase, Reflections

  • Tuesday 18 May 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Thursday 20 May 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Tuesday 1 June 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm – Showcase Event


Meet Our Startup Teams

Since the programme launched in 2018, we have had over forty different businesses launch with ideas ranging from digital technology, fashion, tourism, healthcare, finance, education and more. Beyond the programme, our teams have gone on to achieve success including:

  • Over £1.4 million raised in investment and revenue
  • Three Scottish Institute for Enterprise Fresh Ideas Awards Winners
  • Three Scottish Young EDGE Winners

Startup Visa

Recent graduates of RGU have the opportunity to apply for a two year Startup Visa if accepted as part of the Innovation Accelerator Programme.


Submit Your Application

Applications for the Innovation Accelerator Programme are open until Sunday 17 January 2020 at 23:59 (GMT).


Application Support

If you have any questions, want to know more or want to meet with a member of the team, then get in touch at innovation@rgu.ac.uk


Application Information Pack & Terms and Conditions

While entries are currently closed, you can read the terms and conditions and information from previous cohorts of the programme by downloading the information pack. Please note that the details in the pack may change in future cohorts of the programme.

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