UCL Computer Science


UCL Computer Science Venturer Programme: transforming research into DeepTech startups

5 December 2023

The UCL Computer Science Venturer programme offers a unique opportunity for external partners to support entrepreneurial researchers aiming to create spinout companies based on their innovative research.

Two women speaking at AI Fringe Event

The UCL Computer Science Venturer Programme is a novel scheme that enables external partners to invest in groundbreaking research in areas such as AI/Machine Learning, DevX, green software engineering, cybersecurity, data science, and other digital tech.

The initiative supports enterprising 4-year PhD and 2-year postdoc researchers and their world-leading supervisors to define a pathway to startups and spinouts based on their pioneering work.

Investors will financially support the PhD studentship/postdoc position and in return claim equity in any eventual spinout (via a convertible loan) and contribute to the success of the spinout and ensure research remains relevant. Syndicated investment with others and the UCL Tech Fund is also possible.

About the programme 

The programme has three distinct pathways for entrepreneurial research and innovation: 

UCL Academics Pitch: UCL academics can propose novel technology ideas with commercial potential for consideration by select investors. 

Industry Collaboration: Industry partners can collaborate with UCL Computer Science to define research projects with commercial significance, working jointly with leading academics to tackle industry-specific challenges. 

Global Talent Pool: Prospective entrepreneurial PhD and Postdoc candidates worldwide can pitch their research ideas with commercial potential to a panel of UCL academics and investors. 

Benefits for investors and candidates 

Investors will enjoy several benefits, including a clear equity structure, opportunities for joint investment with the UCL Tech Fund, and an increase in brand visibility for their companies, aligning with a globally recognised thought leader like UCL.  

For Venture PhD and Postdoc candidates, the programme offers tailored support, regular meetings with funders and academic supervisors, entrepreneurship training, mentoring, and access to a vast network of resources and co-founders. 

The initiative is rooted in a track record of success; AI companies founded by UCL Computer Science academics have seen a combined valuation of £1.3 billion over the last five years. 

Commenting on the programme, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) Professor Geraint Rees, said: “The UCL Computer Science Venturer Programme exemplifies UCL's commitment to fostering innovation, combining cutting-edge research with an entrepreneurial focus. This is a unique opportunity for external partners to invest in the future of technology, while supporting talented researchers motivated by commercial success. It’s a win-win for all involved.” 

Head of UCL Computer Science, Professor Steve Hailes, said: “UCL Computer Science has innovation and entrepreneurship at its heart, so I’m delighted to see this forward-thinking initiative launch from our department. This programme creates an exciting platform for entrepreneurial academics, PhDs and postdocs to translate their research into market-ready solutions, and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes.” 

Director of the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Professor David Barber, added: “UCL has a tremendous pedigree in entrepreneurship, particularly in AI, and this programme will enable investors to get in early and work with leading research entrepreneurs to maximise the chance of spinout success.” 

Applications for proposals are open until March 2024 for PhD candidates and 30 June for Postdocs, with the first cohort due to begin their research in October 2024. 

Submit a proposal   

If you are a potential investor, please visit the Venturer Programme website to submit a proposal. 

If you are a potential candidate, please visit the Venturer Programme for Entrepreneurial PhD and Postdoc website to submit a proposal.