Raising investment for your spinout – an investor perspective on the keys to success

This talk will see Dr James Groves from Imperial’s Enterprise team joined by TSP Ventures CEO and Founder Chris Smith. Chris will be sharing his insights and experiences on navigating the early-stages of starting a business, ‘spinning out’ at the right time and raising investment. This will include discussing how to get properly ‘investor ready’ and in doing so, increase the speed and certainty of raising investment.


Chris Smith, CEO & Founder, TSP Ventures

Chris is CEO and Co-Founder of TSP Ventures, an early-stage environmental and climate technology venture investment firm, which he launched in 2018.

Chris has had a long and varied career, starting in the British Military and then later holding senior positions in the City and running his own businesses. He is a life-time member of Greenpeace and passionate about leaving the world a better place for his children, his grandchildren and generations to come.

Chris was educated at Dulwich college and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Duke of Wellingtons regiment and served in Northern Ireland, Borneo, Belize and Gibraltar. He qualified as a Jungle warfare instructor and his final military role was training recruits and potential officers at the Kings Division Depot in York.

Chris enjoyed a successful career as a bond broker during the 1980s-90s, leading growing businesses in the European Government Bond and Emerging Market derivatives markets. His final role as a broker was as Managing Director of Emerging Markets derivatives, leading the global business for Cantor Fitzgerald from New York.

From 1999-2011, Chris ran his own businesses in consultancy, recruitment and multimedia including advising BGC Partners, a major global inter-dealer broker, where he led and integrated their acquisitions in Turkey, Brazil and Canada. In 2011, Chris formally joined BGC Partners and in 2014 was made Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Development. This included leading on all M&A for the company, closing around a dozen transactions totalling over $1.2bn.

Chris is a qualified Executive Coach and highly experienced in M&A, Strategy, Leadership and Recruitment.

Dr James Groves, Seed Investment Manager, Enterprise, Imperial College London

James joined Imperial at the beginning of the year as a Seed Investment Manager within the Enterprise division. He invests the Imperial College Enterprise Fund (ICEF) into seed stage companies led by student, staff and alumni founders from across Medicine, Engineering, Natural Sciences and the Business School. He also works with companies as they prepare to spin out of Imperial, providing guidance and support around raising capital. James also manages the Imperial Investor Network of over 400 angel and VC investors, providing them with access to Imperial’s open investor ecosystem.

Prior to this, James spent 8 years at Oxford University Innovation, commercialising university IP through negotiating licensing agreements and working with academics to spinout and support new ventures in the field of Digital Healthcare, in areas including AI-driven medical imaging, patient monitoring, digital pathology and VR therapeutics. He also has a background in academia, completing his PhD and working as a post-doctoral researcher at Oxford.

With experience in helping Startups to secure investment, negotiating with Startups and investors on behalf of a University, and investing in academic ventures, James has a unique perspective on how to build and launch a successful University Spinout.

Enterprise at Imperial: A long legacy and fit for the future

At Imperial College London, we have enterprise in our DNA. Since we were founded in 1907, we have had a mission to offer the most advanced education and research, collaborate with other organisations, and apply our work to industry. Today, we have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem: a home for businesses, researchers and the next generation of innovators.

The Enterprise team:

  • Helps businesses access the College’s resources, talent and expertise to address business and societal challenges
  • Supports and encourages student entrepreneurship
  • Helps academics find new ways to turn their expertise and research into benefits for society

For more information visit the Enterprise webpage.

About Energy Futures Lab

Energy Futures Lab is one of seven Global Institutes at Imperial College London. The institute was established to address global energy challenges by identifying and leading new opportunities to serve industry, government and society at large through high quality research, evidence and advocacy for positive change. The institute aims to promote energy innovation and advance systemic solutions for a sustainable energy future by bringing together the science, engineering and policy expertise at Imperial and fostering collaboration with a wide variety of external partners.

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