Design graduates offered microfinance to start their own businesses

20 awards up for grabs at annual New Designers show

A number of corporate firms, including Harlequin and Goldsmiths, are to sponsor design graduates to start their own businesses.

Recent graduates exhibiting their work at the New Designers show, which kicks off at London’s Business Design Centre this week, will be eligible for up to 20 awards – including a number of £1,000 start-up grants.

Fabric and wallpaper covering firm Harlequin will be sponsoring one of the grants, as well as livery company Goldsmiths, which has been hallmarking jewellery since 1300. Goldsmiths will also include a place on a business course in its prize.

Similarly, the Worshipful Company of Weavers and the Clothmakers Company will each reward an outstanding textile design graduate with a £1,000 cash grant, as well as work placement opportunities.

An overall Business Design Centre award of £1,500 will be awarded to one young designer, as well as £1,000 worth of legal advice and insurance to protect their designs. A variety of smaller cash grants will also be awarded.

The exhibition – which will run from Wednesday to Saturday this week, before re-opening from Wednesday 4 July until Saturday 7 July – hopes to offer a glimmer of hope for talented design students graduating into a hostile job market.

The event’s highlights include a series of talks on starting your own design business, with a guest appearance from former Dragons’ Den star Doug Richards; presentations from fledgling design entrepreneurs recalling their first 12 months in business; and a variety of other awards, including commissions and work placements with Virgin Atlantic, Hallmark and Sky.

Illustrator and entrepreneur Lisa Edoff, who writes our diary of a start-up column, said:

“The job market for design graduates today is awful, with so many talented young designers unable to find a full-time job.

“My advice is: if nobody wants to hire you, hire yourself! There is so much help out there for creative start-ups to get funding, free business advice, and support from various organisations.

“The competition is fierce but, if you believe in yourself and your skills, there are lots of opportunities for creative businesses today.”

For more information on the exhibition and the awards, visit the New Designers 2012 website


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