Santander launches competition for crowdfunding-led cycle scheme

Santander has today announced the details of a new Santander Cycles University Competition.

The scheme provides Santander UK university partners with the chance to collaborate on the creation of their own bespoke cycle hire scheme. 

The initiative, which offers two institutions the chance to win the capital funding for a scheme, reflects strong interest from universities that are increasingly seeking new sustainable transport solutions to help them address congestion, reduce emissions and promote well-being. 

The competition also helps overcome the financial difficulties that universities face in installing cycle schemes by covering the significant capital costs which traditionally challenge their viability.

A total of 23 universities from across the UK have confirmed their participation in the competition, which offers a new and innovative model for how cycle schemes can be developed and funded.

In the first phase, participating universities will benefit from consultancy allowing them to design a bike scheme that meets their specific needs, delivered through Santander’s cycle partner Nextbike, which runs over 130 schemes worldwide.

The university will also receive support from Crowdfunder on how to raise funds to cover the on-going operating costs of the scheme. Beyond generating income, crowdfunding will also allow universities to validate their communities’ interest by testing its commitment prior to installation.

Following three months of workshops and virtual coaching, each university will submit their plans to an expert panel of judges. The panel will shortlist the top six submissions and the selected universities will move through to the final round of the competition. Those universities who do not progress will retain a feasibility and marketing plan that they may wish to launch at a later date.

In the second stage of the competition – due to begin after the summer break – the six shortlisted universities will each compete to engage their communities and raise funds through their own crowdfunding campaigns. The two winning universities will be those that reach the highest percentage of funds above their operating target. 

Since smaller universities will design smaller schemes and have correspondingly lower operating costs, this will ensure a level playing field for all participants. The two winners will each receive the capital costs for a cycle scheme valued at up to £100,000, with the schemes launching in Spring 2018.

Director of Santander Universities UK Matt Hutnell said: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. This is a great opportunity for students to get involved in an exciting competition that leads to their very own cycle scheme, whilst learning many news skills along the way.

“The competition is the next phase in our commitment to supporting local communities across the country by exploring a completely new model for cycle hire. We hope this will pave the way for more communities to be able to benefit in the future whilst inspiring students to make a positive long-term contribution to life on campus.”

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