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Life in the fast lane for graduate magazine

Mick Palmer

Long before Mick Palmer graduated from his Sports Journalism degree in 2019, he knew his dream of launching a Motor Racing magazine would become a reality – but as the last year of his course approached, he was struggling to find investment for the project.

On the advice of a lecturer, the University of Sunderland student applied to the Futures Fund, which is designed to support final year students and recent graduates with the first steps on their career ladder. His application was successful, and the money allowed him to invest in a new PC and print the first issues of Motor Racing UK magazine (MRUK). 

Mick told us: “The impact of the Futures Fund support for the publication of Motor Racing UK magazine can be measured in terms of how successful it has become in the first year, and how readily accepted it has become within the motor racing community. Thanks to the kick start that it gave the magazine every issue to this point has seen a greater number printed, and each issue has been a sell out within a couple of weeks.”

MRUK has endured an interesting journey since then; following the announcement that two of his closest competitors, which had been in circulation for 70 years, were to cease trading Mick tweaked his business plan to attract disgruntled readers, increased his publishing frequency and began offering subscriptions. As the uptake grew one of the competitors made an about turn and announced it would remain in publication with a content revamp - content which bore an uncanny resemblance to MRUK’s offering…

“It is a hard pill to swallow, but nevertheless it is a compliment at the same time.” says Mick.

 “Thanks to the financial backing I received to launch the magazine it has allowed me to build a solid base, and in turn open doors that would not have been possible as a freelance or employed journalist. The gravitas of having what has quickly become a recognised brand name and a trustworthy outlet has meant that drivers and teams at the very highest levels of the sport in the UK have been receptive, and supportive, of the magazine.”

The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a significant effect on motor racing in the UK, and in turn the on MRUK. Without access to subjects for interviews and photography opportunities Mick took the decision to suspend publication until the season restarted, but kept the magazine in the public eye by releasing previous issues online, creating supplementary articles related to international motorsport, and even producing a 100 page book reviewing the 2019 Touring Car season. This was so popular that profits outstripped three months’ worth of magazine publishing income. 

Mick also contacted the Enterprise Place to access business advice, workshops, and funding to help launch MRUK.

Enterprise Operations Co-ordinator Jenny Westgate says: “Mick completed our Start-Up Skills programme, engaged in 1-to-1 business advice, and received our £1,000 ERDF grant to purchase a camera and a lens which allowed him to produce his own images for the magazine. Mick has been a great advocate and supporter of what we do at the Enterprise Place, and I hope that MRUK has a successful 2021 and beyond.”

Now back in production the magazine goes from strength to strength, selling better than ever - but as Mick told us it’s the small things that really make it worthwhile.

“The chance to stand within a few metres of race bred supercars travelling at 200mph as a fully accredited journalist and photographer is a visceral experience that I have only been able to feel thanks to the opportunities presented and to the generosity of the Futures Fund.”

University of Sunderland Development Office Scholarships

Every year the University of Sunderland offers tens of thousands of pounds worth of funding to current students, to help improve their studies, professional practice and employability. DOSH, the Development Office Scholarship scheme, offers students studying at Sunderland non-means test, not-repayable scholarships from £250 to £10,000.

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The Internships and Enterprise project

The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £1,344,431 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

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