Imperial College London

Hackstarter programme launches to support Imperial’s student makers and creators

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Two students in Imperial College Advanced Hackspace using equipment

Imperial College Advanced Hackspace has launched Hackstarter to provide £500 prototype development grants

Imperial College Advanced Hackspace has launched Hackstarter, a grant programme that offers inventors and entrepreneurs at Imperial the opportunity to turn their early-stage concepts into prototypes for proof-of-concept.

Based on the White City Campus, Advanced Hackspace is Imperial’s prototyping hub, a hotbed for invention, problem-solving and experimentation, convening inventive minds from all backgrounds, disciplines, and levels of expertise to collaborate, and innovate.

What is Hackstarter?

Hackstarter is open to all Imperial students to apply as individuals or in teams for an initial development grant of £500, which can be used for prototyping materials and consumables to develop a prototype of their idea.

Three students working on a project in Imperial College Advanced Hackspace

Hackstarter is the evolution of Project Boost Grants, that previously propelled ideas to prototypes in areas ranging from hydroponic farming to prostheses to smart vaccine cooling systems.

Hackstarter participants will have access to world-class facilities in three purpose designed prototyping and fabrication spaces at the Advanced Hackspace, developed to complement each other and accelerate multi-disciplinary prototyping, making and collaboration. These innovation spaces include an Electronics and Digital Manufacturing Workshop, Biochemistry Lab and Mechanical Workshop.

In this unique setting, students will learn first-hand the benefits of different disciplines working collaboratively to rapidly convert ideas into reality, and how to design experiments to help validate, refine, or discredit an idea quickly.

Participants will be supported in their projects by the Advanced Hackspace Fellows, whose expertise includes mechanical engineering, synthetic biology, coding, and digital design, and who will be on hand to provide essential input into design and manufacturing techniques.

Hackstarter is kindly supported through funding received from Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science.

Idea to Impact

Without the support of Advanced Hackspace and its facilities, I would not have been awarded our first Innovate UK grant. Chris Cieslak Founder, BladeBUG

Previous teams supported with at the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace have gone onto develop their prototypes into startup companies. These include The ShellworksBladeBUG, and FreshCheck.

BladeBUG, a robotics company developing a walking robot for remote wind turbine blade inspection, now employs ten full time employees and has received over £1.35 million in funding from Innovate UK to develop their unique technology.

Founder Chris Cieslak found the Advanced Hackspace’s facilities and expertise essential in the early-stages of developing BladeBUG: “It is fair to say that without the support of Advanced Hackspace and its facilities, I would not have been awarded our first Innovate UK grant as I would not have been able to justify how I could manufacture and test such a high-tech piece of equipment by myself.” 

Meron Mathias, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which kindly supports the Hackstarter programme, said: “Thermo Fisher Scientific is dedicated to supporting scientists across all disciplines develop innovative solutions to make a positive impact on the world. We are delighted to support Imperial College students through the Hackstarter programme and can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next.”

How to apply to Hackstarter

Applications to Hackstarter are open now, and close at 17.00 on Thursday 25 November.  


Gavin Reed

Gavin Reed

Rebecca Covey

Rebecca Covey

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Contact details

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Strategy-student-experience, Student-entrepreneurship, Enterprise, White-City-Campus
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