Students and academics are increasingly encouraged to be entrepreneurial with their ideas, so the number of startups spun out of universities is on the rise.

UCL is a firm supporter of this, both through UCL Business and the UCL Fund UK, which has recently secured £24.75 million in funding from both Imperial Innovations and the European Investment Fund.

The fund will provide financial support for academics who wish to develop prototypes of their work, license existing projects or form their own start-ups.

UCL Business has helped develop 67 companies over the years, but this is the first time it has had a dedicated fund to support new ventures financially.

Celia Caulcott, the vice-provost of enterprise at UCL said, “From engineering, we’re expecting to see spinout deals; from life sciences, more licencing agreements.”

The aim is for the fund to work alongside UCL Business, which provides technology transfer support, business and legal advice and licensing support.

The importance of support

There is a strong record of discovery throughout British universities, but spinouts need both financial and other support in order to grow.  Securing this funding is often challenging due to the novel nature of the research, so a fund that is open to such high risk investments is crucial if these startups are to grow into successful businesses.

UCL is ranked number one for its research strength in the UK’s recent Research Excellence Framework and has a long track record of developing thriving businesses through UCLB.

UCLB has launched over 60 spin-out companies to commercialise intellectual property developed by UCL researchers. Recent UCLB spinouts include Freeline, which is developing gene therapies for blood disorders and Autolus, which is developing cancer immunotherapy treatment.

Another spin-out, Senceive, provides wireless monitoring solutions to the construction and railway industries while Mediagamma is an innovative advertising technology company.

UCL has secured funding from the European Investment Fund (EIF), one of the largest providers of venture investment in Europe, and from Imperial Innovations (‘Innovations’), a leading UK public technology commercialisation company.