Cullum gives £10m to tomorrow's entrepreneurs

When you're a business school looking for funds, it helps if one of your alumni is Britain's top entrepreneur...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Towergate Partnership boss Peter Cullum, who was recently ranked number one in MT’s annual list of Britain’s top 100 entrepreneurs, has donated £10m of his sizeable self-made fortune to his alma mater Cass Business School, to sponsor a new Centre for Entrepreneurship. The news comes just as Cullum is preparing to sell a sizeable stake in Towergate, the insurance business he founded and built into a £3bn empire – clearly just the prospect of that extra cash was already starting to burn a hole in his pocket…

The brand spanking new Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship will help budding and established entrepreneurs in Cullum’s area of expertise, the finance and service sectors. They’ll be able to pitch their ideas to a Dragons Den-style panel of sector experts – although hopefully, if the genial Cullum is anything to go by, with slightly less gargantuan egos. Successful applicants will then receive both cash (Cullum’s money is being used to establish a £10m seed fund) and through advice and support. Cass itself is setting up an incubator, so the fledgling business will have somewhere to base themselves while they’re getting off the ground.

And they certainly won’t lack heavyweight backing – as well as Cullum, Cass is also planning to bring in another big corporate sponsor. There’ll also be an advisory board of top entrepreneurs from Europe and North America, while Cullum has also apparently put about £700,000 of this money to one side to hire a ‘world-class entrepreneurship professor’, and ‘a rising-star academic’. We’re guessing there might be a few applications for that one (in fact, we might even have a go ourselves).

Cullum, who did his MBA at Cass, has clearly decided it’s time to give something back – and not surprisingly, the business school is thrilled to bits about it. Cass development director Paola Barbarino called it 'a venture philanthropy initiative on a truly grand scale' and said she hoped that 'in due course other Cass alumni will be inspired to do what Peter has'. We bet she does – the problem is, not many of their alumni are likely to have pockets as deep as Cullum’s...

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