One of the region’s most successful business leaders is using his influence to provide additional support to the next generation of talented students in the Tees Valley.

Dean Benson, the founder of e-commerce platform Visualsoft and a Teesside University graduate and governor has made a personal gift of £50,000 to support future undergraduate students studying Computer Science.

The gift will be used to establish the new Dean Benson Scholarship programme, which will support talented students from across the Tees Valley in taking up a computer science related degree. The first two scholarships will be made available in autumn 2022 and will help students to make the most of their time at University, and to reach their full potential.

After graduating from Teesside in 1997, Dean Benson went on to found Visualsoft, a market-leading e-commerce platform company based in Stockton-on-Tees with a workforce of 360 and ambitious expansion plans for the next year.

With a company motto to ‘Think Bigger’, Visualsoft has become well known in the region for its entrepreneurial drive and forward-thinking approach to corporate culture and flexible working, with additional offices now located further afield in Newcastle and Manchester, along with an active presence in Dubai.

Despite the company’s geographic expansion, Dean’s personal passion remains focused on his roots in Teesside, where he has already made efforts to tackle ‘digital inequality’ within the region through a £20,000 contribution to a campaign providing IT equipment for local children during the pandemic.

Reflecting on his recent gift to the University, Dean said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with the amazing team at Teesside University to help bring this initiative and scholarship to fruition. My life has been spent in Teesside and in Tech, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to do something really tangible to support our next generation of tech leaders – our future.”

The Dean Benson Scholarship marks the first to be launched within the Teesside Transformation Fund, the University’s flagship initiative designed to break down barriers and to empower more individuals to access education, seize opportunities, and to reach their full potential. With an existing investment of £2million per year in scholarship support from the University itself, the ambition now is to grow this fund with further support from alumni, foundations, and corporate partners to leverage higher impact for the region in the years to come.

Professor Paul Croney, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Teesside University, said: “We have worked closely with Dean over a number of years, and are delighted to have been part of his journey from Teesside University student, to successful business leader and member of the University’s Board of Governors. The success of Visualsoft, a company which grew from early work on the University campus, is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit we are proud to instil in our students.

“I am immensely grateful to Dean for giving back in this way to support the next generation of students following in his footsteps. We believe in the potential for education to transform lives, open doors, and to generate opportunity. Through generous donations such as this, we can support more students from our region to reach their full potential.”

Applications for the Dean Benson Scholarships will open in October 2022; for more information, please visit the website