Imperial College programme to help entrepreneurs

Imperial College, London has launched a programme to help university academics and researchers commercialise technology and increase the number of companies spun-out of the college. The Entrepreneurs’ Programme, which is also open to researchers from other institutions, aims to help improve business and innovation skills in would-be entrepreneurs. The Imperial College Entrepreneurship Centre will run the programme with Imperial College Innovations, the college’s technology transfer company.

The educational programme will consist of courses at three levels, according to the development stage of the business idea. There will be seminars, workshops and master classes relevant to researchers at all stages of developing a business, from pre-start-up to up and running businesses. It aims to inform participants about topics including intellectual property issues, patents, business plans, setting up a company, venture capital term sheets, recruitment, the responsibilities of a directorship and dealing with the press, lawyers and accountants.

There will also be networking events where venture capital managers, business angels and other relevant funding and professional service providers will be invited to meet with and view presentations from spin-out projects.

Through Imperial College Innovations, the university has created over 50 successful spin-outs since 1997, two of which are now listed (TurboGenset and Biogeny). The current spin-out rate is around one a month and the companies span sectors such as drug development, biotechnology, medical devices, electronics, telecoms, software and renewable energy. Sir Richard Sykes, rector of the college, hopes the programme will allow staff to build on this reputation for entrepreneurship. “We’ve shown that there is outstanding quality of research at Imperial and there is remarkable quantity in the commercialisation of research here,” he said.

Under the banner; “One day you will need more than just a degree,” The Entrepreneurial Centre aims to develop the college’s entrepreneurial culture. It was established a year ago with a GBP2 million award from the government-backed University Challenge Fund and focuses on research, practical training, networking and teaching. It recently initiated a business plan competition with a GBP55,000 prize.

Susan Searle, commercial director of the Imperial College Innovations, said: “We are helping our academics and researchers prepare for their interactions with business, through a structured educational programme. The business community can be confident it will meet professional staff from Imperial.”