Calling all future founders! The Development Stage is open.

The Development Stage of the New Enterprise Competition (NEC) opens on 28 November for applications until 27 January.

The New Enterprise Competition is the University of Bristol’s flagship start-up competition and will soon be entering its 20th year. The Development Stage is where we can help you turn your start-up idea into a more realised business.

The word development

If you have a business idea and would like to take it to the next level then you should absolutely apply now on MyCareer. Read on to find out exactly why should apply for the Development Stage!


Let’s start with the obvious. Winners of the competition will be awarded £1000 to go towards developing their start-up. This can help you shape your idea in whatever way works for you; whether it’s building a prototype, setting up a website, or just paying your rent to give you more time to focus on your start-up.

Develop your confidence and skills

Even if you have the best idea in the world, it is going to be hard to get people to listen unless you can express that idea clearly. This is a crucial skill in developing your idea, and one that is highly transferrable. Even if your start-up doesn’t work for you, the Development Stage will give you a toolset of communication skills which will help you with pitching ideas, filling in applications, and even sticking to an essay word count. You don’t need to develop a business plan for this stage of the competition. You just need to have an understanding of what your product/service is, outline who your market is and identify what you need the funding for.

If successful, you will be asked to prepare a pitch presenting your idea for 2 minutes. This is a great way to build your confidence and presentation skills, and a handy skill to develop.

“I’ve found that the NEC Development Stage helped me stay motivated while learning new skills along the way. I learned how to deliver a pitch, received great feedback and was awarded funding of £1000, allowing the website and customer base to grow.”

Alfie Laurence, Spanish and Portuguese Bristol graduate

Get inspired and meet like-minded people

Sometimes the best way to develop an idea is to bounce it between your fellow entrepreneurs. It’s a great way to meet people that share your passion for start-ups (or just your curiosity), and who could help turn your idea into a fully-fledged business. During the Development Stage, we will be running a series of events, workshops, and networking opportunities, which will put you in touch with fellow budding businesses, as well as industry experts, to guide you through the development of your idea.

Three women sat at a table, laughing and talking

“Meeting like-minded individuals and sharing common problems/solutions” – Molly Buckwald, Music Graduate, Development Stage, when asked what they liked most about it

Credibility and exposure

The NEC is endorsed and made possible by various sponsors including Santander and VWV. Many of our previous winners are now working on their enterprises full-time, even hiring university graduates, enhancing the start-up ecosystem. Winners join a prestigious group of start-ups and spinouts, as well as becoming part of the 20-year tradition of celebrating and rewarding entrepreneurship at the University of Bristol.

Two women, Amber and Hazel, smiling in front of some trees

“The exposure of the NEC award also made a big PR splash and we had 3-4 weeks of constant PR which drove customers to us from all over the world.”  

Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane, PEEQUAL, NEC winners, 2021

So what are you waiting for?

The Development stage of the competition opens for applications on Monday 28 November, so check out the resource and apply on MyCareer.

If you want to find out more about the Development stage, including help with submitting an application, book an appointment or email the team at

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