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Armed Forces business innovators to support students

Published: 3 October 2023 at 13:00

Lord Ashcroft Building in Cambridge

Soldiering On Awards winners will join ARU’s Entrepreneurs in Residence programme

A group of entrepreneurs with backgrounds in the Armed Forces have been welcomed into a scheme at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) designed to nurture innovation among students and graduates.

ARU’s Entrepreneurs in Residence programme sees successful businesspeople take on roles at ARU, offering formal mentorship and advising students and graduates on their business ideas and start-up companies, and passing on their valuable experience.

A partnership between ARU and X-Forces Enterprise now means the winners of the business categories of the Soldiering On Awards each year will become Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiRs) at ARU.

During an awards ceremony in London hosted by television personality and broadcaster Jeremy Vine last week, Carma, co-founded by Jim Holland and Iain Gurney, won the Business Start-Up Award. Carma provides businesses and consumers with simple and affordable methods of making a social and environmental impact by buying trees planted by veterans with PTSD, thus helping veterans and the environment.

Erin Sutcliff’s business Tin Trousers was named as winner of the Business Scale-Up Award. Tin Trousers began life providing “striping up” and alterations to uniforms, working from the spare bedroom of Erin’s married quarter. Now in their current home in Gosport, the company has grown to employ other military spouses like Erin among its eight-strong team.

Crimsham Farm CIC, led by Shane Glasspool and Craig Pinkney, won the Business Community Impact Award. The company is a specialist alternative provider of support for children with Special Educational Needs. A large proportion of the directors and staff are ex-military, using their unique skillsets to help build self-worth in the children.

All founders will become EiRs at ARU, passing on their knowledge and experience to students and graduates.

Professor Gary Packham, Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:

“We are so impressed with what these winners have achieved and how they have gone about it. 

“I am delighted that they will now become part of ARU’s Entrepreneurs in Residence programme and I’m sure our budding student and graduate entrepreneurs will benefit greatly from the wisdom and insights these amazing individuals and their enterprises will provide. 

“I would like to acknowledge the work of the X-Forces Enterprise team in helping to realise this unique opportunity for all.”

Ren Kapur MBE, CEO of X-Forces Enterprise, said:

“We’re thrilled to bring this extraordinary opportunity to successful entrepreneurs from the Armed Forces community. Not only will the EiRs benefit hugely from the experience, they will also be able to share the stories of their own careers and enterprise journeys, thus inspiring the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”