Loughborough start-ups secure Innovate UK funding for creative ventures

Joe Fuggle

Graduate Joe Fuggle has received funding from Innovate UK to grow his business

Two start-up businesses founded by recent graduates from Loughborough University have been given a boost thanks to funding from the Innovate UK Creative Growth programme.

Jacob Strauss
Jacob Strauss founded Gumbo while completing his PhD at Loughborough

The Athlete Place and Gumbo are among 14 creative businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire, Derby and Derbyshire, Rutland, Lincoln and Greater Lincolnshire to receive the grant.

Founded by Joe Fuggle, a former GB Junior 400m hurdler, The Athlete Place is an online platform that provides guidance and support to aspiring young athletes and their parents.

Joe, who joined Loughborough as a student on the Sport with a Foundation Year for Elite Athletes programme, set up the programme following his own struggles in sport.

Joe is currently based in The Studio – Loughborough University's graduate start-up incubation programme  – where he sits alongside fellow like-minded entrepreneurs who are also developing new, innovative and sustainable businesses.

Gumbo - an online search engine that finds recipes based on the ingredients users have in their fridge and pantry – was founded by Jacob Strauss while completing his PhD at Loughborough.

Gumbo’s mission is to assist home cooks in reducing household food waste while saving money on their weekly grocery bills.

Both Joe and Jacob have received support through Loughborough University’s business incubator programme, LUInc., to develop and grow their businesses.

Based at the Holywell Building at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP), LUinc. is a part of the Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN), which brings together support for entrepreneurial students from across the University to enable funders to develop skills, test ideas and setup and scale businesses.

Incubator Manager, Pete Hitchings, said: "It’s great to see Joe and Jacob progress their businesses and be recognised in this way.  They have been fully engaged with Loughborough’s enterprise ecosystem; accessing funding, coaching and training through LEN.  They have also been proactive in helping fellow students and graduates setup."

Joe said: "At The Athlete Place, we are so excited and proud to receive this Innovate UK award to help progress the business. A lot of hard work and emotion has gone into this project, and we truly believe this has the power to change the nature of athlete wellbeing and, more specifically, athlete parenting for good. Without the support of Loughborough University and the LUinc. team, this would still be an idea I had in my student house!"

Jacob said: “I am utterly thrilled and grateful to receive the grant from Innovate UK. This support will be instrumental in propelling our mission to connect people with delicious recipes based on the ingredients they already have. With this grant, we can further enhance our search engine, making it even more intuitive and user-friendly, and also develop some exciting new features such as meal planning, recipe nutrition and the ability to follow your favourite chefs.

“This grant is a major milestone for Gumbo, and we are eager to make the most of this opportunity within the Loughborough University Incubator.”

LUinc. is now taking expressions of interest from people working on startups and social enterprises for their 6-month incubator programme.

The programme involves free support for new businesses as they establish during the cost-of-living crisis, the support packages being worth up to £10,000 and including an office space, mentoring, and cut-price software available to successful applicants. Other perks include expert-led workshops and training sessions, potential follow-on funding, and networking opportunities and events.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the programme can visit their website.