By Daniel Hunter

The University of Huddersfield, the UK’s entrepreneurial university of the year, and Funding Circle have launched a pioneering partnership that will see the University provide scholarships to students, via investments in British businesses.

Huddersfield will lend an initial £100,000 to businesses across the UK, using Funding Circle, the UK’s largest online marketplace where people directly lend to small businesses.

This initiative, named the Business Lending Partnership, will not only support business owners but also help develop tomorrow’s business leaders. All interest earned from the investment will be put towards student scholarships for the University’s ‘Enterprise Development’ degree. Over the next five years, it is anticipated that this could benefit more than 200 talented students from socially deprived backgrounds.

The partnership will provide growing businesses with access to the University of Huddersfield’s world-class technology and research facilities, including its recently opened £12 million 3M Buckley Innovation Centre. Funding Circle and the University will also develop a programme of seminars and internship opportunities with borrowers to ensure the next generation of business leaders gain hands-on experience with fast-growing British businesses as part of their degrees.

Theo Paphitis, a supporter of the University’s Enterprise Development degree, said: “I have seen first-hand that the University of Huddersfield has a deep commitment to supporting businesses and delivering the next generation of business leaders and with this initiative the University has made a pioneering step in taking its commitment to businesses even further. It is an exemplar for other Universities to follow.”

James Meekings, co-founder of Funding Circle said: “In today’s economy, businesses want access to finance quickly with minimal disruption. This partnership will ensure businesses get both the finance they need to grow and access to world class research and development facilities through Huddersfield University. At the same time, it will provide much-needed work experience with companies that are the lifeblood the UK economy.

"There are over one hundred universities in the UK — if the University of Huddersfield’s investment can help to support 200 students over five years, imagine the possibilities.”

The partnership is the brainchild of Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan, who is committed to strengthening the University’s links with businesses. He said:

“Working with Funding Circle in this way allows us to boost our scholarship fund and provide an injection of capital funds to thriving British businesses at the same time. At Huddersfield, we pride ourselves on our business degrees and graduates. The Business Lending Partnership will help us to strengthen our ties with businesses across the UK, which can only benefit our students.”

“This partnership represents the University of Huddersfield’s commitment to the future of British business. Together we will support entrepreneurs active in today’s business world while at the same time helping young business people develop the right knowledge and skills for the future.”

The investment is Funding Circle’s third institutional partnership. In December 2012, the Government announced plans to lend £20 million to small businesses through Funding Circle. In November 2012, Lancashire County Council became the first local authority to start lending through Funding Circle to local businesses.

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