Santander UK Chief Executive Ana Botín extended the bank's support for small businesses (SMEs), building on a 25 per cent increase in lending over the past two years, with the launch of a new programme to place graduates from the country's top universities on internships with SMEs across the UK.
The programme to encourage entrepreneurialism amongst graduates is a collaboration between Santander and its university partners and aims to promote the benefits of working for a SME to third-year or recently graduated students, whilst also providing smaller businesses with an injection of talent not always easy to obtain by companies with limited administration resources.
Santander will work with its partner universities to find students and companies who will benefit most from the scheme and will help with placement and administration, including project management, as well as part-funding a basic salary for the students.
Ana Botín said: "Youth unemployment and particularly graduate unemployment is one of the most pressing issues for the UK economy. We hope our new programme offering 500 student internships to SMEs can help provide our talented graduate community with the opportunity to gain vital experience in the work place, whilst opening their eyes to the benefits of working for smaller companies. SMEs have not typically attempted to compete with the graduate recruitment schemes of the big FTSE players and we hope that this initiative will give a wider range of companies the benefit of fresh, young talent.
"As the engines of progress and invention, universities have an important role to play in incubating the enterprises of tomorrow. Santander is proud to be supporting and recognising the entrepreneurial skills demonstrated by students through our Entrepreneurship Awards, as well as announcing an additional £1.5 million of funding to support British universities, taking our total investment to £7 million in the UK and £120 million globally, this year."
Ana was speaking at a Santander Universities event at the Royal Opera House, where she announced the winners of the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. Three cash prizes of up to £20,000 were awarded to students in the under- and post-graduate categories. The awards aim to support and encourage university students to pursue their business ideas, and are open to students from all 58 universities within the Santander Universities programme.
The undergraduate winners were:
First prize: Laurence Kemball-Cook from Loughborough University for Pavegen Systems - a cleantech company manufacturing paving slabs which convert the kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity for storage or use in low-power applications like lighting, signage or sound applications.
Second prize: Will Clowes and Charlie Warburg from Newcastle University for Uni Car Ads - a company which supplies large advertisements on the doors and bonnets of private cars in densely populated student areas.
Third prize: Jodie Hughes from the University of Stirling for Adspad - an advertising and marketing company targeting students between 16 - 25 years old.
The postgraduate winners were:
First prize: Roland Partridge and Paul Brennan from the University of Edinburgh for EoSurgical Ltd - a company which designs and produces innovative, practical and affordable simulators for use in education, training and surgery preparation.
Second prize: Nick Troen from London School of Economics for Poncho no.8 - a high-end Mexican fastfood chain.
Third prize: James Jardine from University of Cambridge for Qiqqa.com - a company that provides free software which helps students and researchers manage information.
To mark the fifth anniversary of Santander Universities in the UK, Ana Botín announced an additional £1.5m of funding to UK universities, taking its total investment to £7 million during 2012, as well as 100 new mobility grants of £2,500 available to UK students to study abroad.