Runway is where student startups take flight. Catalysing the creation of sustainable, highflying, high impact ventures through infrastructure, investment and entrepreneurial knowhow. Our mentors are seasoned entrepreneurs who have already made a difference. We can help you to make a difference. We are open to students and graduates from across the University of Bristol.

Events and Key Dates


The Runway Awards Applications Are Open!

The Runway awards is a pitching competition held annually over the summer, which is open to ambitious early-stage businesses run by current students (including PGR students) and graduates who have left the university within 2 years of the application deadline.

This year £75,000 will be awarded in total, shared between successful applicants. The key judging criteria are as follows:

  • Scaling Potential. We are very keen to encourage entrepreneurs to focus their efforts on projects that will make a difference in the world and are capable of scaling. We also want to raise the ambition of our entrepreneurs beyond the “Student Bubble” to think about products that will benefit communities well beyond those that students and recent graduates are familiar with. 

  • Proof of Traction. We also recognise that the benefits of innovation only accrue when their intended beneficiaries use the new product or process that the innovator has created. To demonstrate this, we are looking for proof that there is appetite to adopt the product or service and that the design has been informed by evidence from the intended user community.

  • Compelling Communication. There is mounting evidence that great products fail to meet their potential because users and customers simply don’t understand their benefits. Having high growth products that customers love is not enough on its own unless founders can clearly articulate the power of their ideas.

The judges are not just looking at the maturity of the business. Clearly, start-ups that have been operating longer will be better placed to demonstrate the criteria above. But we also want to encourage ambitious entrepreneurs at earlier stages to develop great ideas. For this reason, between 1/2 and 2/3 of the fund will be awarded to enterprises that can prove traction and scaling with real customers adopting their product, while the remainder of the funding can be awarded to enterprises at an earlier stage that can demonstrate at least the intention of customers to adopt based on feedback from prototyping / other primary research and / or the willingness of partners to invest resources in the idea because they see its potential.

Apply: Entrants awarded will need to submit a 10-minute video pitch by 12.00 26th April 2023. 

Finalists will be asked to pitch and answer questions in person at the Runway Showcase on Tuesday the 9th May 2023

Video submissions can be uploaded or file shared - please e-mail links to with "Runway Award Application" in the headline. *If using file sharing please make sure your permissions are set to public or we will not be able to see your video.

Support for creating and presenting a pitch deck is available with a competition briefing event on March 23rd in the CFIE. An internal team will shortlist the pitches and final judging will be by a panel of alumni venture capitalists.

Deadline: 12:00 - 26th April 2023


Jim and Peggy Wilkinson Innovation Fund NEW ROUND OPEN! APRIL 17th DEADLINE

The innovation fund will operate like other grant funding applications in that applicants can bid for funding to cover specific projects that will advance their capability to tackle problems that are worth solving.  £75,000 will be awarded in 3 funding rounds per year.  It will be competitive to the extent that it is likely that more projects will apply than there is funding available.  The key criteria for the award of funding is Return on Investment. While funding takes the form of non-repayable grants, the judges will be looking for which projects will deliver the highest impact from the funding available.  Impact can be social as well as financial.

To evidence this we will be looking for a one page executive summary that demonstrates: 

Potential. Highlight the benefit to society of the capability that the project will deliver and why this capability is better than existing alternatives. In short, explain why the project is worth doing 

Plan.  Include details of the project that demonstrates that it will be well executed and is likely to achieve its intended outcomes. It does not matter if the outcome highlights fatal flaws that could not have been predicted without the project. Tell us a little about you and why you are likely to succeed with your venture and don’t forget to say how much funding you are looking for. 

Value.  Show why this particular project is worth investing in above all others. Remember that it is competitive and if you can show a multiplier (for example that £5,000 investment unlocks over £20,000 of value), it will make the case more compelling. 

Communication.  Although not explicitly judged, the ability to communicate the benefits of the project in a concise and compelling way will influence your chances of being awarded funding.  

To give earlier-stage businesses more of a chance, the awards will be split between Start and Scale awards. Up to £10,000 is available for Start applicants with a maximum award of £3500. The remainder will be shared among Scale applicants.  Remember to state on the application which award you are applying for.

Please e-mail files or download links to with "Jim and Peggy Wilkinson April Application" in the headline

Deadline: competition currently open - Next deadline closes 23:59 Monday April 17th

Winners Announced 26th April. Verbal feedback will be provided to everyone whose applications are shortlisted followed by a sandwich lunch.



For any questions and submissions please e-mail

I'm very grateful to be able to work in Runway! It will be a big step forwards for PEEQUAL, we will finally leave our bedrooms and begin to work in a space which supports and enables our development.

Amber and Hazel, Directors, PEEQUAL ltd

 Commit full throttle

The aim of the Runway Programme is to accelerate graduate ventures beyond planning and validation towards practical delivery of value. We know stakeholders will never fully commit to a venture unless they believe it will really take off. We help graduate start-ups take flight.

The key start-up programme provides professionalism, mentoring and a tailored plan for each business that is based within the multi-award-winning Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  Runway allows each University of Bristol graduate to depart with the knowledge and structures in place to deliver upon their entrepreneurial ambition. Pushing for success through a chain of infrastructure, improvement, and investment are an experienced team with success across many entrepreneurial ventures.

Runway boasts private meeting rooms, breakout space and professional presentation venues; access to student consultancy and interns; designers and prototyping facilities; mentoring and advice and importantly an inhouse investment fund.

As a member of the Runway programme you will be mentored by experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence and have full access to our training programme. This includes online lectures and resources specific to helping new entrepreneurs get up and running. 

Updates from Alumni

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