How to enter

About the fund

The Open Business Creators Fund is open to both commercial and social enterprise. We want to validate your ideas, nurture those who are serious about taking the next steps with their business and help those who are committed to seeking external investment to thrive. All participants will be given access to Validate, a start-up ideas platform that allows people to ideate, plan, test and share entrepreneurial and innovative ideas.

How to enter

You will need to work on your business model in the Validate platform and complete your canvas and portfolio for review by our judges panel. Access to this is provided by the Open University so sign up and get started! Depending on the category you enter, you will also develop a video pitch and a plan for how you would use the grant funding. 

When you’re ready, click on the Next button at the bottom of this page.  You’ll be shown the competition rules and terms and conditions, then simply enter your details and upload your portfolio link and other materials by the submission deadline of 12 April 2024 (submission window opens on 28 March 2024). Deadline has been extended to 15 April.

Your business model canvas

Now to expand on your ideas.  What is your value proposition? In other words, what are you providing to your customers? What do your customer segments look like? What is the cost structure of your business and what are your predicted revenue streams?  We'll want to see some realistic figures to have an idea of your potential for success. The canvas is for mapping out your ideas and how your business operates. The Validate tool will walk you through a process for developing this.  

Top tip: Try to keep your business model canvas simple, relevant, and intuitively understandable, while not oversimplifying the complexities of how your enterprise functions. (Osterwalder, 2010).

Support and Resources

Please contact Rob at at any point if you have any questions about applying to the Open Business Creators Fund.

We have a series of webinars facilitated by our partners and Entrepreneurs in Residence over the next month to help you think through your business and your application. Please register by following the links below: 

Getting the most out of Validate

Tuesday, 27/02 12:30 – 13:30 (Recording available on YouTube)

Pitch Your Business Idea Like a Pro

Tuesday, 5 Mar 12:30 – 13:30 (Recording available on YouTube)

The workings of an entrepreneurial mind

Tuesday, 12 Mar 12:30 – 13:30 (Recording available on YouTube)

Developing a solid business model - Replaced by a Question and Answer session with competition organiser, Rob Wilson (Recording available on YouTube)

Tuesday, 19 Mar 12:30 – 13:30

To prepare a sound business model canvas and for other entrepreneurial skills support we highly recommend you spend some time on these resources:

1. Business Model Canvas

2. Badged Open Course on Entrepreneurship

3. Explore your future entrepreneurial ideas - OpenLearn - Open University

4. Becoming an entrepreneur: What is an entrepreneur? | Help Centre | The Open University

5. Start Your Own Business

If your business or idea is a social enterprise, check out Social Shifters for loads of great, supportive content:

Social Shifters - From Passion to Action for Social Change

If you need a demo of Validate, please look at:

Resources - SimVenture Validate

Finally, if you need help developing a fundraising plan, we recommend using Funding Hero. You can access Pillar 1 for free with code: OPENUNI10. 

We can keep a secret

If your idea is something that no one else has thought about yet, don’t worry.  Details of your business idea will be stored securely and only accessible by the shortlisting panel and judges.

So, if you’re ready, click the button below and let’s go…

This button says the word next and when clicked upon takes you to the next page.


Osterwalder, A, and Pigneur, Y. (2010) Business Model Generation : A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers,  Chichester, John Wiley & Sons Incorporated. Available from ProQuest Ebook Central. [13 November 2017].

If you have any questions or need alternative formats to the materials provided here, please get in touch with us at

Last modified: Monday, 15 April 2024, 12:05 PM