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Levelling Upstarts is aimed at supporting SMEs across the country to digitise, upskill and improve productivity. We are encouraging any business based across the UK with less than 250 employees to apply for the programme if they think that their business has a challenge that MBA and master's students could help solve. The programme will be delivered digitally meaning that there are no barriers with location.

Successful applicants will be asked to complete a diagnostic assessment designed by Virgin Money in collaboration with University of Strathclyde and Sheffield Hallam University which will provide them with an extensive report setting out their key strengths and the challenges they could address to help them grow. MBA and master's students from University of Leeds, Sheffield Hallam University and Aston University will review these findings and provide tailored recommendations to overcome challenges and identify opportunities through digital workshops between March and June 2022. Our goal is for the programme to provide invaluable insights from the business leaders of tomorrow to the business leaders of today.

We are really keen to have a diverse range of SME applicants for 2022’s Levelling Upstarts Programme and are excited to open up applications to any SME – whether you are a Virgin Money customer or not.

Application process

The Application process is now open with the first set of digital workshops commencing in March 2022 and will be running until June 2022.

If you are an SME and interested in applying for the Virgin Money Levelling Upstarts Programme please send an email with your interest to and we’ll contact you directly on next steps.

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