Propeller is UCLan’s support service for  freelancing, business start-ups and entrepreneurial thinking.  We are open to ever student, staff member and graduate.

We can help you apply entrepreneurial thinking to your current course, assisting you to gain experience and understand how business works. We do this with a programme of skills workshops, mentoring, funding awards, networking events, work space and online tools.


Our 3 mentors Steve, Craig and Liz all have experience running their own businesses, with different areas of speciality.

Whether you are looking for an in-depth breakdown of what you need to do and how to go about it, or simply need moral support as you take the big steps, our mentors are there for you.

We also have a bank of external mentors who currently work in industry. Our external mentors are funded by the ERDF U Start project for eligible clients.


Throughout the academic year we offer a host of workshops.

Our main offering is the Propeller Enterprise Programme, a series of 6 workshops designed to help you turn a business idea into a reality. These are then complemented by our Bite-sized Briefings – shorter workshops that focus on specific issues that arise for new start-ups.


Our networking events are a great opportunity to build working relationships, see who you can help and who can help you. Guest speakers present on a topic, providing plenty of opportunity to mingle with like-minded individuals and businesses interested in the same topics.

2nd Tuesday of each month

  • 4:00-4:30 Registration
  • 4:30-5:15 Presentations
  • 5:15-7:00 Buffet Networking

To find out what’s happening this month, check the What’s On page.


Freelancing is a great way to earn money whilst studying as you can focus as much or as little as you want on it.

Our virtual learning environment Flightpath is designed to help you work out what it is you have to offer and how to turn that into a successful freelance offering. Why not sign up?


Twice per year we run the Propeller Enterprise Award. We offer up to £1,000 to business ideas and early start-ups. You do not compete against other people, funding is allocated on the value of your idea.

In addition, we also support applications to external competitions and funding bodies, such as the Educate North Awards. For the last two years we have supported the winner of the University Entrepreneurs’ Grant, who both went on to win £1,000 and ongoing support through their pitches.


The Propeller Hub is our work space based in the Media Factory.

Working from home can be a big distraction, but you might not be earning enough to rent office space just yet. Social working space is the ideal in between. Our modern workspace houses a growing community of businesses backed up with mentoring, business support and access to UCLan’s facilities & services.


If you’re looking to prepare your students for the working world, entrepreneurial skills are a must. Understanding how business works can give your students an advantage when entering a company, allow them to be flexible with where they work and adapt to new challenges. There’s also the added advantage that if any of your students do go on to open their own consultancies, work freelance or start businesses they have the skills needed to get off to a flying start.

If you are interested in seeing how we can adapt our content to fit your course, get in touch with our mentors.

Success Stories


What’s the difference between freelancing, owning a business and self-employment?2020-03-11T12:55:46+00:00

Self-employment means working for yourself, rather than being employed by a company or other person. Self-employed people have to submit their own tax returns and don’t automatically receive benefits such as sick pay or maternity pay.

Freelancing and owning a business are both types of self-employment. Freelancing is doing particular pieces of work ad-hoc for other people or companies. For instance, if an accountant needs a website designing, but does not need to employ a permanent web-designer then they may choose to hire a freelancer for a set period of time, or set amount of work. As a freelancer you will typically be known as a ‘sole-trader’.

Owning a business is different to this, as this typically involves hiring other people or working with co-owners. For more information about different business types, it’s best to attend our workshop Structuring Your Business, or talking to a mentor.

What is the difference between Propeller and the Careers service?2020-03-11T12:25:07+00:00

The UCLan Careers service offers advice and support surrounding employability and career paths. They advertise job opportunities and can support UCLan students and graduates with writing CV’s, preparing for interview, understanding industries, and much more. Typically, if you need self-employment support, that is when you are referred to Propeller (or you can come directly to us).  This can include drawing up a business plan, freelancing, setting up a business, working on finance and tax, pitching practice, etc.

For more information about what we offer, come to a drop-in session. See our ‘What’s On‘ page for details.

Do I have to pay anything?2020-03-11T12:02:55+00:00

Propeller offers free business support to students and alumni of UCLan. This includes all of our workshops, 1-1 mentor advice, networking events and online professional development.

Renting a desk or hot-desking from the Propeller Hub can incur a charge; however, hot-desking is free for current students.

We are able to offer our services for free as part of UCLan and also because we receive partial funding from the ERDF U Start Programme.

How can you help me if I already work for myself?2020-03-10T13:18:52+00:00

Our mentors can offer you 1-1 advice to help you grow your business and we have external mentors that can help you in specialised areas. If you are weak in some skill areas, our workshops can help you level up, too. We can also offer you a place to work from in the Propeller Hub, secure work through UCLan Talent and connect you with other business support.

How is this relevant to my course?2020-03-11T11:40:03+00:00

Certain courses lead to career paths in industries with a lot of self-employment and contract work, such as dance, journalism or web design. We work alongside many of these courses directly, but for anyone looking for extra support, Propeller should be their first point of call.

In addition, an increasing number of employers are looking for enterprise skills when they recruit graduates, such as the NHS. We can help you develop transferable skills and core employability skills that will give you a better chance of demonstrating that you’re right for the job.

So even if your course itself might not be business-related, you can still benefit from learning enterprise skills.

What if I don’t want to start a business?2020-03-10T13:19:06+00:00

Then you don’t have to! You can still come to our workshops and networking events, even if you don’t want to run a business. We think it’s important to know how businesses work and these skills can be applied in many different ways.

How can I balance working for myself with my studies and social life?2020-03-10T13:19:13+00:00

If you’re a student, studies should be your primary focus whilst at university. We would never recommend spending more time on your business than your course, but you are in the unique position of having a flexible schedule. If you’re looking to work when it suits you, rather than in shifts, then freelancing can be the right kind of work for you. You can also take breaks for exams, carry on when you return home and continue after graduation. At the end of the day, the amount of time you spend working for yourself is up to you. If you’re interested in freelancing, you can find out more on Flightpath.

Can I start a business on a student visa?2020-03-11T11:38:23+00:00

If you are from outside Europe, no. If you are studying on a tier 4 visa, you can not work self-employed.

EU citizens do not currently need special permission to start a business in the UK. Those who have acceded the EU however (such as Bulgaria and Romania) may have to apply for permission, unless you qualify for exemption.

Do you have space to accommodate enterprise projects?2017-07-20T15:56:07+01:00

We have a creative enterprise zone on the 4th Floor of the Media Factory dedicated to students working on enterprise projects as part of their course. It is a flexible meeting space with networked PCs and creative thinking aids which is available 12 hours a day. In exceptional cases, we have supported students to gain access to specialist rooms and teaching spaces where their project merits this.

We have a Professional Practice/Skills module. Can you deliver sessions as part of this?2017-07-20T15:54:02+01:00

A significant part of our work is fulfilling requests from academics to deliver sessions as part of professional practice or skills modules. This ranges from one off sessions on becoming self employed to a series of sessions looking at cultivating entrepreneurial mindset and skills more broadly. We work alongside academics to ensure we tailor the content to the needs of the students and align what we deliver to the Module Information Pack (MIP).

We can offer flexible delivery as well: from running Dragon’s Den type activities to support for grant schemes within your Faculty.

Where colleagues prefer to embed enterprise within a programme rather than treat it as a “bolt on” module, we are willing to support with curriculum design and assessment to aid the process.

Do you have teaching and learning resources to help us deliver enterprise?2017-07-27T16:38:58+01:00

We possess specialist resources relating to business planning and social enterprise which we are licensed to use.  Additionally, we have a bank of teaching and learning materials to share with colleagues which can be adapted to most courses.  They encompass a wide range of knowledge, skills and capabilities relating to enterprise and entrepreneurship: self-assessment, personal effectiveness and branding, creative problem solving and idea generation through to assessing viability and feasibility of ideas and business planning.  Moreover, we are members of Enterprise Educators UK which is a national network of best practice in the field, so you can access latest materials being used by HEIs.  Finally, we have access to case studies and Alumni who are running successful businesses in a range of fields who are often willing to speak to groups of students.

We are going through Periodic Course Review (PCR), can you assist us introduce more enterprise in our modules?2017-06-14T14:47:24+01:00

We are able to support staff with curriculum design and assessment relating to the development of enterprise and entrepreneurship modules delivered in the curriculum. Based on our knowledge and experience as a team we can often suggest innovative approaches and we would engage with colleagues within CELT as part of this process.

How can you help my students with a project linked to their course?2017-06-14T14:46:56+01:00

We have numerous examples of students working on a business plan/proposal as part of a module where we have supported the student with mentoring and managed workspace and liaised closely with their tutor. We can connect students to the business community either through Alumni whom we have started in business or through our wider networks. We can signpost students to specialist services and facilities at UCLan, whether they be advice clinics or equipment to help get projects off the ground. In exceptional cases, we refer students for expert advice from academic staff who have experience in a particular business area but who teach on a different course to the student’s programme of study.

Can any student access your service?2020-03-11T11:43:08+00:00

We can support students from any course, at any level of study. Students can either attend our extra curricular programme or receive specific support relating to their course of study where it relates to enterprise or entrepreneurship. Our extra curricular programme comprises of mentoring, workshops, networking, competitions, grants and managed workspace.

Can I use the Propeller space?2020-03-10T13:25:32+00:00

The Propeller Hub is open to students, alumni and commercial businesses associated with UCLan.

Current students can register for a free hot desk. Graduates are offered hot-desking and dedicated desk space at a reduced rate, and commercial businesses associated with UCLan are also welcome to hot desk or rent a dedicated desk from us. To discuss using the space, please contact

We are currently undergoing a price review; this information is correct as of March 2020.

Why should I choose Propeller?2020-03-10T13:49:05+00:00

We act as a single point of access to a range of business support, specialist facilities and networks at UCLan. Contact us today if you would like further info on

Is any funding available?2020-03-11T12:58:46+00:00

We have an annual award called the Propeller Enterprise Award for students and recent graduates (within 12 months of graduation). We offer up to £1,000 to help support pre- and early-stage start ups get off the ground.

Our business mentors have experience in helping businesses identify appropriate sources of funding, and we can also refer you to the Investment Readiness team. Contact us today if you would like to find out about funding

How do I register?2020-03-10T13:48:56+00:00

You can book onto workshops online, as well as booking appointments either over the phone (01772 895950) or in-person at reception (Media Factory 401).

We will take some contact details and make arrangements for you and the first time you visit us, you’ll have to complete some paperwork.

Who is eligible to use the service?2020-03-10T13:48:50+00:00

The service primarily serves students, staff members and alumni of UCLan. We are open to other businesses working with us if they are affiliated with another UCLan project such as the Centre for SME Development. If you are uncertain if this applies to you, please contact us.