Beginning your journey as an entrepreneur. 

Every spinout journey is unique, but the process falls into a number of stages. We have expert teams to help you at every step.  

Under UK law, Imperial owns the intellectual property (IP) developed by its staff in the course of their normal duties. All spinouts based on research carried out at the College must come through Imperial Enterprise.  

1. Pre-formation

This important stage lays the foundations for building your spinout. The first thing you need to do is secure the IP that your spinout requires. Your faculty Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation (IPC) team will guide you through this process – you need to contact them as soon as you have made a discovery or invention you think may have commercial potential, so they can assess the IP position, make sure IP is secured where needed, and provide the spinout with access to it.

With the IPC team as your entry point, they and other commercialisation specialists from across Imperial Enterprise can help you assess the market, develop your business strategy, and help you find funding and investment.   

2. Starting up

We have a standard process to help you through the steps in this phase, which includes licensing the IP and developing the right business structure – to make sure that everyone is fairly incentivised, attract future investors, and avoid creating unnecessary tax obligations.  

We can also help the company to access its own independent legal and financial advisors, insurers, and bank account and provide training to help with your responsibilities as a founder. 

Your dedicated project manager will work with you to identify the support and advice you need – whether that’s mentoring, business planning, or something else. They will then connect you to providers throughout Imperial’s Enterprise ecosystem.

Guidance on generating IP in your lab after you form a start-up - November 2023.pdf

3. Funding 

Developing new technologies can be expensive, and it often takes a while before you are in a position to find customers and bring in revenue. This means that in many cases you need to find funding.  

There are many options for this, although many startups raise money through investment rounds. Our investment services team can help guide you through them, connecting you with potential investors and helping you develop the company’s investor readiness.  

4. Growing your company

Once you have raised initial funds and are in the process of developing your technology or carrying out trials, you will enter a growth phase. This is difficult to navigate, even with great IP, committed staff, generous investment and solid plans. Imperial Enterprise can provide support in building your team, finding office and lab space, often on Imperial’s campuses (the Imperial White City Incubator supports spinouts in this stage of development), and preparing for further investment rounds.  

5. Exiting your business

When you’re launching a startup company, it may seem premature to be thinking about exiting from it. But by thinking and planning ahead for a possible future acquisition or stock market listing, you’ll be in a better position if and when that moment arises, whether that’s in 18 months or 18 years.

And if you have external investors, they will expect you to have planned for this – it’s one of the key ways that businesses produce a return for investors. Our experienced teams can help you make these plans and present them in the best way to potential or current investors.