Four #StartedatNCL businesses are accepted onto the Ignite North East Pre-Accelerator Programme

Ignite North East helps entrepreneurs with innovative and disruptive tech start-ups to launch and scale. Their Pre-Accelerator helps early-stage business opportunities, whilst their Accelerator supports already established, seed-stage businesses.

Funded by North of Tyne Combine Authority, the Ignite North East Pre-Accelerator 2022 has now begun, with 15 businesses participating in a five-month programme that includes weekly workshops, access to a global network of mentors and investors, £10,000 in equity-free funding and £250,000 in business support credits from Ignite’s partners.

Four of the 15 businesses taking part are founded by Newcastle University students and recent graduates who have also received START UP support to pursue their inventive, future-forward ideas.

“We’re so pleased Ignite has returned to the region and very proud to have so many START UP founders participating in what looks to be a fantastic cohort. We know how competitive the Ignite open call is, attracting hundreds of applications, and how valuable their support is. Our tech start-ups will benefit greatly from Ignite’s network, mentoring opportunities and generous package of business development, and we’re looking forward to seeing them succeed!” said Gretel Dixon, START UP Adviser at Newcastle University.


Co-founded by Will Rogers (PhD Theoretical Physics) and Alessandro Ventisei (PhD Electric and Electronical Engineering), Basepace is a platform to build dynamic fitness programs based on personalised analytic insights to end the one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. Basepace aims to provide high-quality, automated coaching and fitness advice and personalised, adaptable training programmes using machine learning techniques to optimise training efficiency, reduce injury risks and increase exercise retention. “Through Ignite, we are hoping to develop our ideas, build our brand, and transform our start-up into a scalable business,” said Will. 


Co-founded by Sachin Chopra (MComp Computer Science in Game Engineer 2021), Rashad Basharat (BSc Computer Science) and Callum Thomson (BSc Computer Science), Nest is a flexible rent payment platform that benefits both the landlord and the tenant. The app allows users to set out a flexible payment schedule for paying rent, whilst landlords are guaranteed payment on the same day each month. This means people who don’t always have guaranteed incomes, such as students, can split and schedule their payments depending on their financial situation. 

“START UP has given us ample support and insight on how to start running a business. We received detailed feedback from our advisor on how we should approach our application process for Ignite and what key points of information we should be conveying to give us the best possible chance. We also received valuable advice on how to shape a pitch to make it convincing and viable. We believe Ignite will provide us the means to grow as a business through mentorship from industry experts and the series of workshops that are offered to us. By the end of the program, we will have launched, and the app will be available to use by our users”, said Sachin.

Persona Design

Founded by Daniel Foster-Smith (PhD Fine Art and Art History), Persona Design aims to help designers more clearly understand their audience using Artificial Intelligence to populate knowledge of a user persona, which is an archetypical user whose characteristics and associations represent a larger group. The designers can then question this persona and test how concepts resonate with the audience to guide their design ideation processes“The Ignite Pre-Accelerator Programme is an amazing global network of entrepreneurs, advisors and investors. To start developing Persona Design with support from them is a huge privilege. Talking through the idea with Steve Bowden at START UP clarified how it might be built into a business and really helped formulate my pitch to Ignite”, said Daniel. 


Co-founded by Rojin Yarahmadi (MSc E-Business,2020) and Nick Benopoulos (MSc Digital Business in e-Marketing,2020), PolyBox digitises receipts and offers dynamic reports for customers and retailers, allowing end-users to have a better customer journey. The app aims to eliminate physical receiptsintegrate a budgeting tool that will help customers better track their expenses, and help retailers understand more about their sales.“[Ignite will help us] to understand the best user experience and help us to move forward with building and developing the PolyBox application. Also, to be around people with the same mindset and learn more about entrepreneurship”, said Rojin.

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