Preston software firm signs milestone deal

A young entrepreneur is celebrating after agreeing a milestone deal that will see his graduate business provide application processing technology to universities across the UK.

Dawood FardUniversity of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate Dawood Fard, 26, set up international services company Centurus to improve the applications system for international students.

He was featured in Lancashire Business View's Young'uns feature in 2012, and now the Preston company’s software – which helps cut immigration abuse and streamline administration – will be rolled out in up to 100 UK universities and colleges.

Dawood said: “Currently, universities and colleges are each using different processes for communicating with applicants and the agents who market their programmes overseas. The software we’ve developed brings the sector together with a single portal for international agents and institutions.

“I had the idea when I visited India on a business placement. I met with international officers and agents there and witnessed the problems international students face when applying to study in the UK.”

Dawood approached UCLan’s business start-up support programme with a business plan and received funding and office space through the scheme.

The application software was built using the funding from UCLan and Centurus launched in 2011.

In 2012 the company signed up its first university, Glyndwr University, and now processes tens of thousands of student applications each year – a number which is expected to grow significantly following this latest deal.

Julia Stickley, business mentor at UCLan said: “Dawood has worked extremely hard over the past few years developing his business from scratch, through the pilot stage and now into establishment and quite rapid growth. He has also become an employer and has recruited a small, dedicated team.

“Dawood’s business grows from strength to strength with every passing month; a success that is truly earned due to his unfaltering commitment. Everyone here at UCLan’s business incubation service is delighted Dawood is achieving the goals he set himself at the beginning of his journey and we all wish him continued success with his innovative system.”

Dawood added: “The company is growing faster than forecast and we expect further significant growth in the next few years following this deal. “We hope that the admission technology will become the industry standard and expect to introduce new services that will support international students throughout their university experience in the UK.”