Universities need greater support from investors to build lasting startups, writes Imperial's President in the Financial Times.
Though universities have been characterised as treating start-up founders as "problem children", they are, in fact, "our star students and professors", Professor Alice Gast argues in response to a commentary by Air Street Capital's Nathan Benaich.
Our WE Innovate programme’s mentoring, support and networks has driven a surge in female-led startups. Professor Alice Gast President
The success of Imperial's 750 active companies, which attracted £800m in external investment in the last five years, "is no fortuitous accident", she writes.
"Far from 'academic entrepreneurship being discouraged' we have invested in new enterprise labs, incubators, hackspaces and an infrastructure designed to incentivise and support academics and students as they start and grow companies. Our Founders Choice programme allows entrepreneurs to keep more equity, while they tailor the level of institutional support they want, with the university taking between 5 and 10 per cent."
"Investors at Imperial can indeed form a company within three months. Our process offers a standard framework to focus negotiation, enabling pragmatic investors to get up and running quickly."
President Gast says: "Not all universities will need a 'nudge' to create supportive innovation ecosystems. Some governments and investors could do with one."
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