Downing College celebrates nearly two decades of entrepreneurial success

In 2005, the Downing Enterprise competition was founded, to support and publicly recognise the entrepreneurial endeavours of Downing students and alumni. We were one of the first Colleges to establish an annual business competition. Its mission over the past 19 years has been to encourage the development of entrepreneurial ideas and concepts amongst our students and young alumni and provide the support and funding to convert these ideas into sustainable commercial businesses.

We are delighted that over this period, Downing Enterprise has funded 11 still active start-ups, given £40,000 in prizes, awarded over £500,000 in funding and our expert panel of judges have provided many more start-ups, from a wide range of industries, with valuable advice and mentorship. Over 250 Downing students have participated and 38 people, many of whom are alumni, have shared their skills and experience as Downing Enterprise board members.

“Downing Enterprise was absolutely pivotal in giving our business the push it needed at the start. Through the process we were incredibly fortunate to benefit from the wealth of expertise of the board to improve our value proposition, finalise our pitch decks, and fine-tune our public speaking skills. With the support and funding from Downing Enterprise, MedPredict has been able to grow beyond just an idea into a company that is actively working with hospitals around the country.” MedPredict, 2022 winners.

As a College we recognise how competitions such as Downing Enterprise have grown in popularity and in order for more Downing students to access such funding and support and help simplify the application process, this is the last year that we will run the competition. We are pleased to be collaborating with Creator Fund and will encourage our students to take part in this large, Cambridge-wide competition.

Thanks to funding that we have generously received from our board members the College has also been able to endow a new fund called ‘Downing Enterprise Grants’ which will be used to support student summer enterprise projects.

Professor Graham Virgo KC (Hon), Master of Downing College said: "There is no doubt that the hundreds of participants who have taken part in the Downing Enterprise competition over the years have gained a huge amount of knowledge from mentoring by board members and the presentation skills training. 

"We are keen for our students to consider entrepreneurial activities as part of their learning and education here at Downing and feel that they would benefit enormously from taking part in a larger event which may well uncover new investment opportunities.

"I would like to thank everyone who has given their time, energy and financial support and we look forward to hearing about future Downing entrepreneurs.” 

Published 21 March 2024