Virgin has been named fifth in Europe’s top 25 corporate startup stars by NESTA and the European Commission and we won the award below to go with it! 

It’s great to win the award, but please don’t congratulate us, because it’s the truly inspiring startups that we work with who deserve the plaudits, without them we wouldn’t event exist! So hats off to all of you entrepreneurs out there working on your dreams and a special high-five to the 1,100 entrepreneurs who have received a Start Up Loan through Virgin StartUp, since late 2013 we’ve distributed over £11m to help you turn your ideas into a reality and you’ve put it to great use.

The award comes following extensive research carried out by UK innovation foundation Nesta on behalf of Startup Europe Partnership. It recognizes big businesses that support proactive start-ups in a number of ways and covers both Virgin StartUp and Virgin Unite - the non-profit foundation that aims to unite entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world. It was key that the companies in the final 25 demonstrated active time working with startups and covered: hosting events (Virgin StartUp Meetups and Masterclasses), sharing resources and content to funding accelerators or incubators to or making investments and even acquisitions.

The judging panel included Scale-up Report author and angel investor Sherry Coutu, Betfair co-founder and investor Ed Wray, and former CEO-in-residence at Microsoft and founding partner of Whitespace Ventures Andy McCartney. The questions the panel asked themselves were below and Virgin scored highly across them all.

  •      Can they point to senior executive buy-in?

  •       Do they procure products and services from start-ups?

  •       Are they good payers to start-ups, including offering preferential payment terms than other suppliers?

  •       Do they promote an entrepreneurial culture internally?

  •       Do they stand out for the way they integrate the start-ups they collaborate with?

  •       Can they share real success stories – and identify what they learnt from failures?

  •       And what are they actually offering start-ups by way of programmes, resources, opportunity, investment, and routes to exit?

Below is what the judges said about why they chose Virgin as number five on this list.

“Virgin is a strong example of what a company can achieve if it embraces entrepreneurship.

Driven by a passionate founder, Sir Richard Branson, it works with start-ups through a diverse range of programmes. Particularly impressive are Virgin Startup and Virgin Unite, which offer comprehensive support for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses, including high levels of peer-to-peer support, funding, mentoring, tools, resources and advice.

While procurement isn’t guaranteed, many start-ups have gone on to produce products or services for Virgin’s companies.

For example, Nudge Global provides ‘financial wellness’ software to Virgin Management employees, and Bark and Meow supply high-end pet beds to Virgin Hotels”

See who else made the list of 25, here.