Aston University MBA students to work with SMEs through new Virgin Money programme

Aston University MBA students to work with SMEs through new Virgin Money programme Aston University MBA students to work with SMEs through new Virgin Money programme

January 18, 20222 min read


  • The Levelling Upstarts programme is open to all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • The Virgin Money programme aims to match SMEs with MBA students from leading university business schools, including Aston Business School
  • Applications for the programme are open and will run until the end of February.


Virgin Money has launched an innovative new programme which gives SMEs the opportunity to partner directly with MBA students from leading universities, including Aston University, through digital workshops to help them solve specific business challenges.


Levelling Upstarts aims to both empower regional SMEs to level up and to foster the next generation of business leaders.


The programme will help SMEs overcome challenges such as building brand awareness, honing a competitive advantage or selling into new markets. They will receive tailored guidance and recommendations through access to MBA students at leading universities, including those from Aston Business School.


The digital workshops for successful applicants will be held with Aston University in March and June. Around 40 businesses will be selected to take part in the initial round of workshops across the three business schools on the programme.


Kirit Vaidya, Fulltime MBA programme director at Aston Business School, said:


“We have been working with Virgin Money for over two years. We are excited to participate in the Levelling Upstarts programme.


“Our students have experience and expertise in a range of areas including IT, marketing, operations and human relations in addition to what they learn on our MBA programme.


“The students gain enormously from the experience of applying their knowledge to add value for businesses. The participating businesses gain from the students’ expertise and fresh perspectives in addressing specific challenges or to transform their business models in a fast-changing world.”


Professor George Feiger, executive dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, said:


“Both our students and the participating businesses can gain immensely from the Levelling Upstarts programme by sharing ideas, putting thoughts into practice, offering alternative perspectives, challenging the perceived norm, creating bold solutions and ultimately working in partnership to enable the SMEs to move forward.


“It is also a unique opportunity for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to gain direct access to the growing businesses of today, putting their training into practice and gaining new skills along the way, boosting their employability.”


Graeme Sands, Interim Head of Business Banking at Virgin Money, said:


“Our new Levelling Upstarts programme enables businesses to get focused, comprehensive and free support that otherwise may not be available to them.


“By pooling the resources of talented business students and helping them think outside of the box, the programme can help to help solve their business challenges while simultaneously giving MBA students valuable and transferable skills to help their future careers.


“It really is a win-win for both students and participating businesses.”


Applications for the programme are now open and will run until the end of February.


Businesses that wish to express an interest can email levellingupstarts@virginmoney.com for further information on how to apply.



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