CFE Summer 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the Centre for Entrepreneurs Summer Update: Celebrating New Dawns and Significant Finales


Welcome to CFE’s summer newsletter – it’s fantastic to be writing this after hosting our NEF Class of 2021 graduation party last week, the first face-to-face event that we’ve held for more than 15 months. That’s motivated me and the team to get our  events programme back up and running post-summer, and I hope to meet many more of you at future events.

Speaking of graduations, the NEF Class of 2021 have completed their NEF journeys and join our alumni network. Elsewhere, NEF alumni achievements continue apace, CFE’s refugee work has featured on Sky News, we look forward to holding our 4th annual IAN conference and to the start of the newest NEF+ cohort – our 11th – in September. We also are delighted to welcome our newest corporate donor, ISTARI Global who join our long-standing group of supporters.


Warmest wishes,


NEF+ update

Founders Forum Partnership

NEF+ Class of 2021 highlights

Graduation party highlights

NEF+ alumni updates

CFE update

Research & Networks

Refugee Pilot Programme


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NEF+ update 


As with every new recruitment cycle, the diversity of applications that we receive is telling of the incredible energy that is to come. We have begun to onboard talent from some of London’s fastest growing Scale-Ups (via our new Scale-up talent route), who will be focusing on tackling some of their companies’ biggest challenges; founders in property, e-commerce and wellness; and the “world’s first runway model in a wheelchair,” who is now building an inclusive fashion brand for people with disabilities.

We are weeks away from the application deadline – so if you or someone you know would like to apply as an early-stage founder, do reach out to Ben Thomas (, our partner recruiter at Instant Impact

Alternatively, if you are a scale-up or organisation looking to sponsor your key talent for our programme, please connect with Lance Tredell (, our Business Development Lead.

More information here.


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Founder Forum partnership update 

NEF+ & Founders Forum

Following our ongoing partnership with the Founders Forum, our CEO Neeta Patel will be joining Joysy John (CEO, 01 Founders) in a fireside chat to discuss ‘Investing in the next generation of tech talent’, on 24 September at London Tech Week. 

We’d also like to extend our congratulations to Joysy and the Founders Forum team for the recent launch of 01 Founders, the free-to-access coding school and newest addition to the Founders Forum family. If this is of interest to you, applications for their October batch are open.


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NEF+ Class of 2021 highlights 

NEF+ Class of 2021 Challenge Showcase

This quarter the 2021 NEF+ cohort have learnt about the entrepreneurial essentials of finance as well as pitching best practices before taking part in NEF+ 2021 Pitch Week, where we saw 28 incredible pitches from NEFers on the cohort.

Six pitches were selected to take part in the NEF+ Pitch Final on 30 Jun 2021:

Matryoshka – innovative wine-infused ice cream.

Sunday Care Therapy – occupational therapy to personalise care at home.

Whering – your wardrobe, digitised.

Yendy – skincare supporting small-scale producers in Africa.

Güsto Snacks – healthy, air-dried fruit crisps made from wonky fruit.

Staraplex – fully-catered merchandising platform for social media influencers.

NEF+ 2021 Final Pitch Day Ventures

Following the pitch days, the NEFers had a final learning cycle helping them to accelerate their businesses through operational excellence, using their knowledge of process optimisation and operating rhythms to get themselves and their ventures prepared for when they’re ready to scale.


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Our NEF+ graduation summer party 

Congratulations to our 5 award winning NEFers!

With the 10 learning cycles completed it was time for the NEF+ 2021 Graduation (on Tuesday – 1 day after COVID restrictions were relaxed! The event was an operation in itself requiring attendees to submit lateral flow tests or proof of double vaccination.) Amongst the crowd joining the Class of 2021 were the Class of 2020, who missed out on their own graduation party last year due to COVID restrictions.

Prize winners were announced following speeches from Centre for Entrepreneurs Chairman Oliver Pawle, CEO Neeta Patel and a poem from NEF+ Programme Lead Maxx Turing.

Chairman’s award – awarded by Oliver Pawle, Co-founder & Chairman, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Congratulations Sofija Daceva for being the strongest pitcher on the NEF+ 2021 Pitch Day. This assessment includes the quality and delivery of Sofija’s pitch as well as the potential of the idea, viability of the business and assessment of the ability of the founder to execute on that idea.

CEO’s award – awarded by Neeta Patel CBE, CEO, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Well done Alexander Dobb for showing sustained engagement with the NEF+ programme, making significant progress and showing promise to developing into a future entrepreneurial leader.

Fellows award – presented by Matt Smith, Fellow Senior 

The Fellows award, AKA the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, selected by the NEF+ 2021 Cohort goes to Edward Ashton Johnson. The NEFers voted for Edward as they believed he has been the most helpful to them and their cohort on the course over the last year.

New Entrepreneur award – presented by Mike Bandar, Programme Designer, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Cameron Kavanagh is awarded the The New Entrepreneur award for taking part in the NEF+ programme and balancing the demands of a placement, the learning programme and starting a new business idea. Cameron has managed to successfully navigate this process whilst maintaining balance and progress in all areas.

Entrepreneurial Spirit award- presented by Maxx Turing Programme Operations, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Well done George TakTak for displaying the 6 key values of the NEF+ programme, Growth Mindset, Community, Execution, Iteration, Vulnerability and Resilience. George embodies these values and exemplifies a true entrepreneurial spirit. George’s behaviour, words and actions help others as well as themselves.

The graduation summer party was the first gathering since 2019 and it was great to see so many familiar faces in the same room again. We look forward to the next cohort joining NEF+ in September 2021. 

We continue to recruit for the NEF+ Class of 2021 – we’ve selected an incredibly talented and diverse group of founders so far, but still have some places available for the programme, which starts in September. Please share the word, and encourage applications here

NEF+ also provides incredible development opportunities for young talent in scaling businesses. Contact NEF+’s business development lead Lance Tredell – for more details or to arrange a follow-up call.

View some of our Graduation Summer highlights below

Our Chairman’s prize winner, Sofija Daceva, wasn’t able to attend in person and joined us virtually via Zoom from Montenegro alongside some other fellow NEFers Zooming in from Tenerife and Italy.



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NEF alumni updates  

We recently caught up with four of our NEF+ alumni, who shared their entrepreneurial journeys since graduating from our programme. From Finn Sims (CEO, Previously), who converted a spare room into a micro-factory during the pandemic, to Yang Liu (CEO, Just Wears), who brought her comfort wear brand to Dragons’ Den – check out our NEF+ stories here

Our Alumni & their recent successes

It’s also been a momentous and exciting time for many others in the last quarter! Well done to our NEFers: 

Ry Morgan’s (2013) Unmind raised a $47M Series B round, led by EQT Ventures.

Dhrupad Karwa (2014) co-launched Inspo, a search engine for inspiration, alongside his other venture HaikuJAM. 

Three of our NEFers – Stuart Macdonald, Josh Turner and Victoria Collins – are finalists at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. 

Max Grell’s (2016) climatech venture BlakBear is now running a funded PoC with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Greentown Labs.

Nikita Thakrar (2013) co-launched IncludedVC’s second fellowship, after getting over 3,000 applicants.

Josh Turner’s (2014) Stand4 Socks has joined the eBay for Change hub, after also hitting its £1M turnover mark in 2020.

Lucia Banjo (2020) was listed on Campaign Magazine’s Media Week 30 under 30.

Alva, by Annie Coleridge (2018), was featured on The Guardian as one of the latest in femtech.

Will Read’s (2014) Sideways 6 partnered with Microsoft to build its Teams app.

Kike Oniwinde (2018) and Darren Tenkorang (2017) were recognised as two of the 25 Top Black Entrepreneurs to Watch by HSBC & the UK Black Business show

We’d also like to thank our NEF+ Alumni for their kind donations to the Centre for Entrepreneurs and the NEF+ programme. Their generosity and pay-it-forward spirit will be pivotal in bringing tangible impact and support to the future entrepreneurs of our NEF+ programme.

Thank you Corbyn Munnick, Joel Gujral, Alex Somervell, Fiona Timba, Guy Riese, JJ Tan and Quin Murray. 


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CFE Update  

We’d like to welcome Lorne Magill as our newest team member at the Centre for Entrepreneurs. Lorne joins us as our Interim Commercial Director who will be focusing on strengthening the alumni network and delivering a partnership strategy. With Lorne’s 5 years of experience at City Pantry, she is looking to maintain and grow the ecosystem that surrounds the NEF+ programme.

Donor update

As a registered charity, CFE depends upon the generosity and support of our donors to deliver our mission. We are fortunate to enjoy the long-term support from our corporate and patron donors, and are delighted to announce our latest corporate supporter who has joined our premium corporate donor list – ISTARI.

 Established in 2020 by the investment company Temasek, ISTARI is a global cybersecurity platform with a unique model. It is an advisory practice, investor and educator through its cyber Academy. Headquartered in London, ISTARI has a global presence in the US, Europe and Singapore.

 The ISTARI Collective includes Sygnia, BlueVoyant, Ensign InfoSecurity (EIS), Claroty, IronNet, Armis, D’Crypt, Prevalent AI and VisibleRisk. Headquartered in London, ISTARI has a global presence in the US, Europe and Singapore. To learn more, click here.

ISTARI is delighted to support the Centre for Entrepreneurs and their work advancing the entrepreneurship agenda for the UK and developing the next generation of entrepreneurs. I joined the judging panel at a recent NEF pitching event and was impressed by the quality and potential of the founders. I look forward to many more opportunities for us to engage with the CFE community.

Rossa Shanks, Chief Marketing Officer

In April, CVC Capital Partners continued their long-standing support of NEF alumni businesses, as their London office ran their Young Innovator Awards 2021. The winners were Volunteero, a volunteering management platform for charities, and  Diaspo, through which home cooks can run online cooking classes.

Founder of Volunteero, Ashley Staines said: “We are over the moon that the CVC judging panel saw fit to award Volunteero. The grant has allowed us to kick off the process of hiring a new engineer to help us roll out new features quicker. Each new feature we build helps improve volunteer engagement, save charity staff time and deliver more impact!”

Founder of Diaspo, Harish Malhi said “I’m so honoured to have won the CVC award with Diaspo. The prize helps us grow the team, and deliver more engaging cultural experiences.”

The two winners received cash grants to help them develop their businesses and also receive ongoing advice from CVC staff.


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4th annual incubator conference to take place in Nottingham in September 


Dryden Enterprise Centre (DEC) at Nottingham Trent University by Evans Vettori Architects

The Incubator and Accelerator Network’s 4th annual conference will take place in Nottingham Trent University’s new Dryden Enterprise Centre this September — the first time the network has convened in person since March 2020. 

The conference will tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the incubation industry, including: what does incubation look like post-Covid, how to engage local funding bodies, integrating incubation in the wider entrepreneurship ecosystem, and connecting entrepreneurs in a digital-first world.

The network has continued to expand, with the University of Birmingham and the University of Sunderland both joining in July. 

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Home Office pilot findings profiled in Refugee Week media campaign 


Refugee Week in June saw the launch of the findings and next steps of our Home Office-backed refugee entrepreneurship pilot programme. Our senior fellow Matt Smith appeared on two Sky News features during the week, while our delivery partners and some of the refugee entrepreneurs they supported appeared on BBC Radio Leicester. 

Read the Sky News coverage

Read the refugee entrepreneurship pilot key findings and next steps


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Wishing you all a relaxing and healthy summer, whether you’re travelling, or stay-cationing. 

As always, a particular thank you to our donors and supporters, without whom our work would not be possible.

Best wishes Neeta.


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