Hiring an intern – the most rewarding move for our start-up

A Keele student start-up business has paid tribute to the Keele Internship scheme, for helping their business grow from strength to strength.

Keele University BSc Neuroscience students Elena Cismigiu and Matthew Critchley co-founded student start-up HX Lab in 2019. The company - who are based in the Smart Innovation Hub* on Keele campus - specialise in using psychological and Neuro-biological research to inform businesses about how their customers experience their product or service.

HX Lab welcomed research student, Clara Pizzolo, to their team as an intern. Clara is a research student studying a Masters in Applied Experimental Psychological Sciences at Keele, currently on an exchange programme from the University of Milan. 

Being a psychology student, Clara was able to apply her skills, helping to distribute the workload for HX Lab and allowing for growth as well as gaining new and valuable skills to complement the team.

Elena, Keele University student and co-director and founder of HX Lab, said:

“When creating our company and basing our office on a university campus, we had students in mind. We were keen to access the brilliant minds a university setting has to offer. We wanted to provide a different perspective and show students that scientific research doesn’t stop in a clinical setting.

“Besides creating a job and internship opportunity for undergraduates and postgraduates, we knew how valuable students are in the workplace. With jobs nowadays requiring previous experience following university, students are extremely keen to work, and their ethic is invaluable

“We found students are also more open-minded and keen to try new things and learn new skills. We found Clara was more than willing to work some aspects of the job that may have been unfamiliar but still applied the same enthusiasm.

“As a small business the opportunity of having a fully funded intern came at the right time and we were extremely grateful for Santander’s service."

Kathy England, Business Engagement Manager at Keele University, who set up the internship, said:

“Internships are a great way to connect students and businesses, both parties benefit from the experience. In the case of HX Lab, it was very clear from the start that this was a collaboration of great value. It is fantastic that thanks to Santander Universities we are able to support internal students as well as the talented student start-ups we have here on campus.”

To find out more about the Santander Universities UK programme at Keele University, please visit www.keele.ac.uk/santander.Santander Logo 2019 ed 200px

For more information about accommodation, internships and other support opportunities available to businesses, please visit www.keele.ac.uk/business.


SIH logos including 2020 RE logo 400px *The Keele University Science & Innovation Park Smart Innovation Hub (Ref: 32R17P01691) / Innovation Centre 6 has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the England Growth Programme 2014-2020, the Midlands Engine and Staffordshire County Council with support from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.


The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) (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. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.