We will translate ideas into impactful solutions
Imperial’s focus on science and technology and medicine means that a high proportion of our staff and students are interested in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship offers our researchers an important route to providing societal and economic benefit from their work.
Entrepreneurship is a key means by which our staff and students apply their work for wider societal benefit. By learning alongside researchers who are experts in their fields our students gain the practical, entrepreneurial and intellectual skills to tackle societal problems. Entrepreneurial activity requires support and nurturing at all stages in the journey – from the creation of ideas, the safeguarding of these through intellectual property, the development of entrepreneurial skills to enable startups to flourish. A diverse range of support is required at each stage.
The entrepreneurial spirit flows through to engagement with industry, where Imperial encourages and helps academics and researchers to tackle industry challenges as a route to impact, through industry partnered research projects, often in a multidisciplinary approach, and through the commercialisation of academic discoveries into IP that can be licensed or form the basis of new startup businesses.
Consultancy provides another such supported route. Consulting projects allow staff to apply and extend their knowhow by providing advisory and expertise-based services, often tackling urgent problems and building new relationships.
We aim to be a destination of choice for the most innovative students and researchers from across the globe, who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and who will create impactful solutions that address important economic and societal needs.
Actions in Detail
Actions in Detail
- We will continue to build on ways to support our students and staff in establishing startups, including convening external mentors and experts, and building our investor network to help startups flourish.
- We will create stronger connections between all parts of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing better support for staff, students and external collaborators.
- We will equip our students and staff with the knowledge and skills needed to turn their ideas into reality.
Imperial has invested in creating a vibrant entrepreneurship support ecosystem, supporting from the very earliest stages of conceptualizing business ideas through to helping established startups to grow.
Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) is a highly accessible environment for inventors, hackers and makers from around the College – student or staff – to turn their ideas into real breakthrough prototypes and solutions. ICAH provides access to specialist manufacturing equipment, training, and a network of like-minded members. There are hackspaces across South Kensington Campus, and the bespoke workshop at The Invention Rooms in White City contains a well-equipped bio lab, alongside state-of-the-art 3D printing, electronics, metalwork and woodwork equipment.
Imperial Enterprise Lab is a hub for student entrepreneurship, offering workspace, advice and mentoring. It’s home to the College’s flagship student entrepreneurship programmes, such as WE Innovate, which is dedicated to helping female entrepreneurs succeed, and the Venture Catalyst Challenge, which sees hundreds of student teams apply to undertake seven intensive weeks of masterclasses and coaching. In 2018/2019, the Lab engaged 1,974 students in its activities.
Imperial’s highly utilised White City Incubator provides state-of-the-art laboratories and office spaces, and an incubation programme of training and events to help startup companies. Companies include Polymateria, which is developing a breakthrough, proprietary formulation for biodegradable and compostable plastics. Incubator graduate Mina Therapeutics is developing a pioneering platform enabling the development of new medicines that restore normal function to patients’ cells and received £35m in investment from Sosei, a Japanese biotech company. Water purification biomaterials company Puraffinity provides an example of the journeys Imperial aims to support. The company idea was formed in 2014 when founding team entered the iGEM synthetic biology competition run by Imperial-based SynbiCITE. Founder Gabi Santosa won the WE Innovate female entrepreneurship programme in 2016, this was followed by further funding from SynbiCITE and the company went on to take up a shared lab in the incubator, from there the company won £1.2m in EU Horizon 2020 funding that allowed them to take their own lab in the incubator. The company raised $3.55m in a seed funding round in 2019.
Scale Space, located within Imperial College’s White City Campus, is a new innovation space, bringing together research, talent and business-building expertise from Imperial College London and the UK’s leading digital venture builder, Blenheim Chalcot. It will provide unique access to an ecosystem designed to encourage and support innovation and growth to businesses focused on scaling.