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East Midlands Chamber News

World's top graduate entrepreneurs come to UK

A new Government scheme – the Sirius Programme – which is bringing the world’s best entrepreneurial talent to the UK has today (16 December) announced the first innovative start ups to gain a place.

The seven start ups, made up of 19 young entrepreneurs from 13 countries including India, China, Italy, Germany, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, and Nigeria will now be able to establish their promising businesses in the UK, helping boost Britain’s enterprise community, creating jobs and inviting foreign investment.

More than 160 aspiring entrepreneurs from over 30 countries entered the first round of UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) pioneering Sirius Programme, which enables talented graduates with innovative start-up ideas to make the UK their home.

Chosen by independent entrepreneurship experts as part of a rigorous judging process, the entrepreneurs successful to date come from five different continents and will launch businesses in sectors as diverse as sport, energy and health tech.

Their business ideas and inventions include: a one-of-a-kind way of creating green energy by converting waste coffee grounds into biofuel, a low-cost, portable, remote smartphone battery charging solution and a fraud-reduction device that enables consumers to instantly verify whether a branded product is counterfeit via their mobile phone.

Tim Brown, a former professional footballer who represented New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup, is now the co-founder of ToBe, one of the start ups that will launch in the UK as part of the Sirius Programme

He said: “We’re creating a unique category of footwear based on the biodegradable and sustainable properties of wool.

"Entirely negating the need for socks, our invention aims to revolutionise the way everyone, from everyday athletes to professionals, trains. We want to take on the trainer market in the same way my fellow antipodean, and ex-Liverpool FC player, Craig Johnson, turned the football and rugby boot market on its head with the Adidas Predator.

"Wool has never been used in footwear before and our running shoes are the first in the world to be made from Fitwool – a proprietary woollen fabric – and designed for sockless wear, with no internal seams for an unparalleled level of comfort and performance.

“We’re delighted ToBe has been chosen as one of the first start ups to be part of the Sirius Programme. It’s the perfect opportunity to help us fulfil ToBe’s ambitions. Being based in the UK will enable us to start up and develop alongside like-minded entrepreneurs and gain access to world-class strategic advice and support.

"The UK market’s understanding of wool is also a great advantage. We can’t wait to meet our Sirius Programme mentors, the accelerator team and to get started.”

The teams will receive start up support from the Programme including a 12 month place on one of the best business accelerator programmes, mentoring, help gaining clients, financial support of £12,000 per team member and visa endorsement. The enterprises will be 100 per cent owned by the graduate teams, and no equity is taken.

The Sirius Programme aims to attract hundreds of talented entrepreneurs into the UK in its first two years, with each of the resulting business creating new jobs, bringing in foreign investment and making a significant cumulative impact on the UK economy. Advantages of starting up in the UK include access to 500 million customers in Europe (62 million in the UK) and the fact that these consumers tend to be early adopters, keen to test and try new innovations.

The Sirius Programme is open for entries until 15 January 2014. For more information and to apply visit www.siriusprogramme.com.