A new report shows more than 50 startups have been founded in the last year by staff and students at Imperial College London.
These range from startups developing smartphone stickers that can monitor air quality to breath tests for earlier cancer diagnosis.
We are building a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports our staff and students to innovate, collaborate, and boldly pursue new opportunities. Professor Nick Jennings Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise)
There are now more than 200 active Imperial-founded startups, which collectively raised more than £105.1 million of investment in 2017-18, according to the College’s latest Review of Enterprising Activity.
The number of startups founded by students has almost doubled in 2017-18. This led to 180 new jobs being created, and more than £17m investment.
Imperial students are among London’s most promising entrepreneurs - the three-year survival rate for companies founded by Imperial students is 81% compared to a London average of just over 50%.
In all there were 51 startups formed by staff and students in 2017-18, more than triple the number in 2013-14. Imperial offers a range of support for both staff and students and has introduced a number of new programmes in the past year to boost entrepreneurship across the College.
Support offered by the College includes Imperial’s Enterprise Lab, a hub for budding student entrepreneurs, which offers space, training, advice and mentoring to help students bring their ideas to life. It also offers students the opportunity to pitch for tens of thousands of pounds worth of funding through various entrepreneurship competitions.
For the first time, student startups that were launched through the Enterprise Lab are progressing to the White City Incubator, which acts as a home for early stage startups.
Based at the I-HUB at the College’s new White City Campus, the Incubator provides access to state-of-the-art laboratories, office space, as well as an incubation programme to help startup companies grow and develop.
These include CustoMem, which is developing a new biomaterial to capture and recycle hazardous micropollutants found in industrial wastewater, and FreshCheck, who are developing smart use-by dates to give an on-the-spot indication the safety of your food to prevent food waste.
Companies based at the incubator have raised more than £85 million to date, and created more than a hundred new jobs.
White City ecosystem
Imperial’s White City Campus, Imperial's major new campus in west London, continues to grow, providing a home for local entrepreneurs, world-leading academics, strategic industrial partners, talented students, and more than 70 companies who are based there ranging from startups to corporates. The campus co-locates these businesses with Imperial’s world-class researchers to work, share ideas and turn cutting-edge research into benefits for society.
The campus is also home to Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, which provides Imperial staff and students with free access to specialist prototyping and manufacturing equipment as well as a fully equipped bio-lab.
This year Imperial partnered with venture builder Blenheim Chalcot to build Scale Space, a 200,000 sq ft new technology and innovation centre, on the south site of the White City campus, which will support new, high growth technology companies.
Imperial has introduced a number of new programmes in the past year to support its enterprising staff and students and boost entrepreneurship across the College.
We do all this because we want our research to make a difference. Professor Nick Jennings
The Venture Mentoring Service provides Imperial innovators with advice and expertise from a pool of highly-qualified business mentors, experts and investors to help their businesses succeed.
Imperial has launched two accelerator programmes for early career researchers – Techcelerate and the MedTech SuperConnector - to provide this highly skilled community with thinking time for exploring the commercial potential of their work. Both schemes provide funding for researchers to take time out of the lab and immerse them in entrepreneurship training, with access to incubator, accelerator and industry networks.
The launch of Founders Choice in August 2017 offers academics a much greater share of founding equity – up to 95% – in a company based on their research. In return academics receive more basic level of support from the College, recognising the knowledge, expertise and strong industry networks of Imperial’s entrepreneurial academics. GraphicsFuzz, one of the first startups to be founded through the Founder’s Choice Programme, pioneered an automated testing technology to make graphics drivers more secure and reliable. They were bought by Google earlier this year.
Professor Nick Jennings, Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) said: “While Imperial benefits from a natural groundswell of entrepreneurial endeavour, this activity still requires encouragement and support. That’s why we are building a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports our staff and students to innovate, collaborate, and boldly pursue new opportunities.
"We do all this because we want our research to make a difference. Our reward comes from seeing our research put to good use, and the intellectual stimulation of engaging with business."
Collaboration with industry
Invention disclosures at Imperial have grown by 13% this year, with an increase in the number of patent applications filed, building on the steady growth witnessed over the last six years
The number of new licence agreements signed has stayed steady, along with the cumulative number of active licences held - around 200 over the last four years.
Imperial offers businesses a unique depth and breadth of academic expertise across its four faculties and expanding cohort of multidisciplinary research centres and networks of excellence. These pull together expertise across College for tackling major challenges such as nutrition, or addressing emerging research areas such as artificial intelligence.
The College received £61 million in research funding from industry in 2017-18. Imperial’s research collaborations with industry and other corporate partners continue to grow, according to the review.
Business uptake of services including technical advice, testing, analysis and expert witness via Imperial Consultants has also continued in the past year, delivering projects for over 400 clients from 29 countries.
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