30 October 2013

Virgin announces the launch of Virgin StartUp, a not-for-profit company, which will offer financial support, mentoring and business advice to thousands of young entrepreneurs across the UK.

At its East London launch last week  in BoxPark, Shoreditch, Sir Richard Branson was joined by James Caan, Chairman of  SULC, Sir Tom Shebbeare, Chairman of Virgin StartUp, Kevin Horne, Chairman of the Cavendish Consortium and Richard Reed, Co-Founder of Innocent Drinks and a key supporter of the scheme.

Virgin will invest in a central team to manage the new company. It will draw on resources from Virgin to help promote the scheme. The new initiative is collaboration between Virgin, the Cavendish Consortium (Enterprise First is the lead agency in the South East) and the National Enterprise Network.

Sir Richard Branson said: “Virgin StartUp is pleased to be working in partnership with Enterprise First, the leading not for profit business support provider in South East region. The combination of Enterprise First’s experience in providing early stage businesses advice together with the Virgin brand and our companies support, will be crucial in securing the success of many young entrepreneurs. We look forward to working together to set up many new ventures.”

John Mitchell, chief executive of Enterprise First said: “This is great news for those looking for funding to help them start a business.  We’re expecting high demand in the South East and hope that this will be one less barrier to people who have a viable business plan but need a loan to get the company up and running.”

Virgin StartUp follows the successful pilot programme in the North East involving Virgin Money. This initiative, launched in October 2012, is a consortium between Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation and Project North East to deliver start-up loans. In the last 11 month it has backed more than 100 businesses and lent £600,000 in funding.

Sir Tom Shebbeare, chairman of Virgin StartUp commented: “Running The Prince's Trust for 15 years taught me that great leadership, sound advice, committed mentors and affordable finance can combine to create tens of thousands of sustainable businesses and jobs. Our year-long pilot in the North East gives me every confidence that the entire Virgin group combining with our experienced partners will deliver a unique experience for young entrepreneurs right across Britain."

To find out more about Virgin StartUp and to apply, young entrepreneurs should visit

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