Unlocking and supporting new business ideas at Cranfield

If you are a Cranfield student, researcher, alumni or staff member with a business idea, we are here to help you!

Start-Up Weekends are the perfect opportunity to work with peers, mentors, and entrepreneurs to shape your ideas. We create an open and safe environment to share your own ideas, gain knowledge and test your ideas with seasoned business professionals.

This is a unique opportunity to work closely with mentors to work through big ideas and turn problems into business opportunity.

Some of the topics covered across our weekends include:

  • Who's Your Customer?
  • Market Application and Commercial Advantages
  • Value Proposition
  • Business Models
  • Raising Capital

Following each session, you will be given the chance to break into small groups and talk through your idea with an experienced entrepreneur. At the end of the weekend, you will get the opportunity to practice pitching your idea and will receive feedback on both your pitch and how to take your idea forward from this point.

Who is it for?

Cranfield students, researchers, alumni or staff members with a business idea.

What is expected from me?

As many of our mentors will be giving up their own time to facilitate your business idea development, we ask that you are committed and engaged throughout the three-day programme. Bring a bright positive attitude!

What do I get out of the weekend?

Crucially, the weekend helps you to get out of your comfort zone and really engage with the entrepreneurial mindset to finding opportunity in challenge.

If your idea and/or your team look viable we will provide you with further support through mentoring, advice (legal and financial) and other routes to markets.

If you have engaged in the mentoring process within Bettany Centre and we think that you have a viable idea, you may be invited to pitch for investment at Investor Day. This is not a guaranteed outcome and will only be offered to those individuals that are committed and show genuine potential.

Start-Up Weekend Thursday talk

'The path to building a business, what does an entrepreneurial mind look like?’

The talk is open to anyone (not just people attending the Start-Up Weekend).  The talk will commence at 18:00 on Thursday 20 April, in The Gallery, CMRI Building 38.  Please arrive 10 minutes prior.  You are welcome to stay for Drinks & Networking after.  Please register here.

Panellists for the Thursday session:

Jessica ParrishJessica Parrish
Jessica is the founder of Shedid & Parrish, the award winning Salon quality hair range for curly and textured hair. With over 20 years experience, delivering international business strategy across the food and property sector, Jessica launched Shedid & Parrish as a brand that champions hair inclusivity, empowers all curl patterns and make them a pleasure to look after.

Jessica has an Executive MBA specialising in Leadership & Entrepreneurship from Cranfield University and a strong track record of spotting consumer trends and developing communal dining spaces. She also has extensive International experience developing concepts, growing brands and driving commercial success having been the Commercial Director for Time Our Market and founder of J.P. Riverside, an International Consultancy operating within the leisure and property sector.

Shedid & Parrish prides itself on ethically sourcing only the best quality, 100% natural ingredients for its product ranges and promotes reuse - recycle, with recycled aluminum packaging and direct to bottle printing to minimise waste. The brand is also proudly vegan, cruelty free and scent free.

Cliff BarryCliff Barry
Cliff is a serial entrepreneur with expertise in; turnarounds, acquisitions and startups. Operating in the SME area Cliff has built multi-million pound businesses that constantly achieve financial performance beyond market sector norms. His companies operate in home services and financial instruments.

In 2022 he launched a new charity to support ordinary people affected by conflict, www.hafgb.co.uk, during the year since its inception the charity has raised goods and cash with a value of over £800,000. He invests regularly in third party businesses and property projects, he was a pioneer investor in Novus Black. His passion beyond the world of work extends to Scuba Diving where he is a Rescue Diver and specialist photographer. He says he can bore people for hours with fascinating photos of sealife all recorded on his iPhone!

Jon Thornes
Jon Thornes MBE is the founder and owner of one of the most successful businesses you’ve almost certainly never heard of. And, unlike most entrepreneurs, he’s very happy with that. From his appearance, however, you might guess what industry he works in. The clue is in the colourful collection of ties featuring cows, which he wears at every opportunity.

Jon has spent his professional life in the dairy sector. He grew up on a dairy farm and after agricultural college worked his way up through the industry in a variety of roles. He knows it inside out and, if asked, he’d tell you that milk, not blood, runs through his veins. Not surprisingly, the first lesson he had to share with a packed audience of Cranfield masters’ students on Wednesday 21st November was the value of deep industry knowledge. The second was that the employers he worked for in his early career paid for his mistakes. Whether you work for yourself or others, you will make mistakes, he told a hall full of active and aspiring business founders. Embrace the fact. That’s how you learn, and move on.


All sessions will be hosted in CMRI Building 38 in The Gallery.

Thursday – 16:00-20:00
Friday – 10:00-16:30
Saturday – 9:30-15:15


Registration for the full Start-Up Weekend has closed, but you can still register to attend Thursday's talk below.

Register for Thursday's talk

Do you know about the Bettany Centre Mentoring programme?

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