Property firm Strutt & Parker, part of the BNP Paribas Group, is proud to announce a new partnership with the Royal Agricultural University’s (RAU) Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme this academic year.

This includes the launch of a new alumni award for a graduate business start-up and funding for the Grand Ideas Competition, its well-established programme which has supported a number of students starting out in business.

Strutt & Parker’s new alumni entrepreneur award, Grow It, features a £1,500 cash prize. It will be open to recent graduates who have left the RAU in the past three years and have successfully built and developed their own business.

The firm’s sponsorship also includes £1,000 to the RAU’s First Steps Fund – designed to encourage students to develop a business idea – and £2,000 to the Grand Ideas prize, for which students enter a Dragons Den-style business pitching competition and are judged by independent entrepreneurs and business leaders. This year’s judges include Christine Cross, former Director of Tesco, Levi Roots, of Reggae Reggae Sauce and past winner Lewis Steer who runs the Dartmoor Shepherd as well as the RAU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Joanna Price.

The RAU was nominated in this year’s Guardian University Awards in the Employability and Entrepreneurship category. Companies created under its enterprise programme include the university’s own brand of real ale – Muddy Wellies – and BiJimini, which creates high-protein flour mixed with crickets. Last year’s Grand Ideas winner Alex Dunn, created a farm safety app and is now working on a New Zealand dairy farm as part of the Richard Wigram scholarship.

James Farrell, head of Strutt & Parker Rural, said: “We believe the RAU Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme aligns perfectly with Strutt & Parker and the BNP Paribas Group’s commitment to making a positive impact on society and the economy through supporting entrepreneurs and young people.

“It nurtures innovative and enterprising talent in the rural sector and provides an exciting environment in which ambitious ideas can flourish; we are delighted to have the opportunity to support high calibre students at the outset of their careers.

“We are particularly excited to launch the new award for an alumni entrepreneur, which we think is an excellent initiative to support and motivate rural business enterprises. We expect some outstanding candidates and are very much looking forward to seeing the entries.”

Katy Duke, head of enterprise at the RAU said: “We’re excited about working with Strutt & Parker and BNP Paribas Group this year and to introduce the new alumni “Grow It” award. This builds on the success of our established Grand Idea Competition which seeks out the best new business proposition from our students.

“The breadth and scale of the enterprises already created by RAU graduates is impressive, and it’s a key part of our teaching to provide them with the support and mentoring to develop their ideas.”

The award will be presented at the 12th RAU Annual Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Awards in May 2019.

The RAU offers a range of business degrees at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level, including a BSc in International Business Management, where student satisfaction has outscored the national average for the past two years (National Student Survey 2018). The University also offers an MSc in Business Management and an MBA in International Food and Agribusiness.

The University’s Real Estate and Rural Land Management degrees are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).