Development & Alumni Relations Office 

SANTANDER UNIVERSITIES EMERGING ENTREPRENEURS PROGRAMMESantander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme logo with (inset) Lewis Loane

11 August 2020

Entrepreneur Lewis Loane from Queen’s University Belfast is one of the 83 budding entrepreneurs participating in the Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme for 2020 and is in with a chance of receiving up to £30,000 of funding at the virtual pitching competition final in September.

Music fan Lewis – who is founder and CEO of a company called TORANN and creator of Signal Optimiser, which he designed to improve the sound quality between guitars and amplifiers – has joined other talented entrepreneurs from Santander partner universities from across the UK on a business acceleration programme dedicated to supporting student and graduate start-ups.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented:

“We’re delighted to celebrate 10 years of supporting entrepreneurship with our dedicated new programme for student and graduate start-ups.

“Adapting to the current environment, our new digital offering will support young entrepreneurs with their innovative business ideas particularly in light of present-day challenges and ensure the immense array of entrepreneurial talent from across our partner universities all have a chance to pitch at the national final later in the year.”

Taking place across the summer months, the new virtual programme involves fortnightly webinars of online support sessions. It is aimed at helping the emerging entrepreneurs understand how to get the most from their business and includes a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers including Lesley Stonier, Founder, We Mean Business and Jeremy Snape, former international cricketer and Founder and Managing Director of Sporting Edge.

Alongside panel discussions and workshops, coaching and peer-to-peer learning, the programme also focuses on responding to key challenges and goals for start-ups during the current coronavirus crisis. Sessions so far have included topics such as: funding and finance; marketing and growing your brand on a budget; and pitching to investors.

Lewis, who comes from Newtownards in County Down and who graduated in July 2020 with a BEng in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, is a keen guitar player and is passionate about electronics and music.

He has taken part in the University’s Lean Launchpad Programme – a pre-accelerator initiative, aimed at helping local researchers turn their inventions into new products and ventures – and has already enjoyed considerable success with Signal Optimiser. A finalist in the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards (2020), Lewis has won:

  • QUB Dragons’ Den (2019)
  • Invent (2019)
  • £15,000 at the Ireland Funds Business Plan competition

Excited about the closing stages of the competition, Lewis said:

“The Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme has already been hugely beneficial to me. The regular webinars and the expert speakers have been inspirational and the chance to discuss all the challenges of starting a business with others has been invaluable.

“I am really looking forward to pitching Signal Optimiser to the judges. With the support from Queen’s and the TORANN team, it’s exciting to see what will happen!”

Santander UK launched its 2020 Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs programme in celebration of 10 years of supporting entrepreneurship. Semi-finals of the competition will run in September when all the emerging entrepreneurs will pitch for one of eight places in the final.

The live virtual final will take place on 29 September 2020, where the eight finalists will pitch to a panel of judges with two winning entries receiving £30,000 of seed funding each and a fully funded Santander intern.

This year the programme also includes a Crowdfunding challenge, where the businesses will have the chance to work with the team at Crowdfunder to create a campaign for their business and be in with a chance to receive a cash prize of £6,000, alongside any funds they may have raised during the challenge.

Speaking about the University’s relationship with Santander UK Kat Maguire, Enterprise SU Manager in Queen’s Students’ Union said:

“Queen’s has been a Santander University for over 12 years and is now part of a network of over 1,200 universities in 20 countries across the world.  

“Santander funding – and the innovative programmes it offers – plays a hugely important role in the development of our students. The Emerging Entrepreneurs programme in particular gives all those involved in start-ups a wonderful opportunity and a valuable incentive to succeed.

“Lewis is on to a real winner with his Signal Optimiser idea and everyone here at Enterprise SU wishes him well in the coming weeks and months.”

Since the competition launched in 2011, Santander Universities has awarded more than £500,000 in support of student start-ups across the UK and given universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the country. Overall, Santander Universities has provided over £2.5m of funding each year to support entrepreneurship at its 85 UK university partners.

Santander media enquiries to Leonora Burtenshaw, telephone: +44 (0)7701004107 or Miranda Seymour, telephone +44 (0)7860 857999. The Santander press office operates from 8.00am to 6.00pm. Outside of these hours please call 0800 5877708.

Queen’s Enterprise SU team, which is based in the Students’ Union, can be contacted via email:

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.


Santander Universities

Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth, with a long-standing dedication to higher education that sets it apart from the world's other financial institutions. With over EUR 1,800 million invested in academic initiatives since 2002 through Santander Universities and over 430,000 university scholarships and grants awarded since 2005, it has been recognized as the company that invests most in education in the world (Varkey/Fortune 500 Report), with 1,000 agreements in place with universities and institutions in 22 countries, of which over 80 are in the UK. Through these agreements Santander promotes education, entrepreneurship and employability. For further information please visit:


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