Innovation & Enterprise


London Venture Crawl 2019: UCL’s entrepreneurial students explore the capital’s innovation ecosystem

26 March 2019

This year’s London Venture Crawl took students on a tour of innovation hotspots across the capital – including Unruly, Huckletree Shoreditch and Citi Ventures.

A group of UCL students standing in front of a red London bus, taking part in the London Venture Crawl 2019

An invaluable insight into business and innovation

The London Venture Crawl is a flourishing partnership between several of London’s leading universities, providing students with an invaluable insight into business and innovation in the city.

This year’s event involved 13 universities, 400 students, seven London buses, five stops and a grand finale pitching competition – with lasting memories of a truly inspirational day.

Studying in a London university is no longer just about attending lectures, writing essays, sitting exams and making friends for life. It's also about discovering the world of business and enterprise beyond the university walls, and exploring how your ideas and aspirations can make you a new Elon Musk or Jack Ma or land you a job in an established business with a hunger to innovate and promote intrapreneurial culture.

Students learn about the world of business and enterprise

UCL’s iconic Routemaster bus took the 45-strong student cohort to five inspiring locations, mapped out to include some of London’s most innovative, enterprising and inspirational organisations and businesses.

The trip started with a visit to the British Library Business and IP Centre – a place where every aspiring entrepreneur can access an incredible wealth of resources, receive mentoring, attend workshops or join the Innovating for Growth programme for startups ready to scale up.

Second stop on the route was Balderton Capital – an early-stage venture capital investor that has backed ground-breaking technology companies including Citymapper, Depop and Revolut.

The third stop was Huckletree Shoreditch – a co-working space in Finsbury Square that houses a diverse community of businesses, including The Family, a pan-European investor in startups with a disruptive potential, who generously gave their time to speak to UCL students.

Next the group visited Unruly, an innovative video marketplace that uses emotional intelligence to create successful campaigns. Students were treated to a talk by three industry experts about the future of advertising and media trends. This was followed by a tour of Unruly’s office which features sun lounges, a Darth Vader themed meeting room and an indoor climbing wall – all aimed at unleashing workplace creativity.  

The final stop of the day was Citi Ventures – an arm of the Citi banking group that invests in innovative startups that come out of Citi’s internal innovation programme for employees and clients.

Reflecting on an inspirational experience

While on the bus, UCL students heard from Joe Tighe, Strategic Director at Benevolent AI, a company that uses artificial intelligence for scientific innovation. They also received pitching coaching from UCL Innovation & Enterprise’s Business Acceleration Advisor Doug Stidolph, before pitching their own business ideas and voting for the winner of the UCL heat of the London Venture Crawl pitching competition.

Juliet Brown, a PhD Anthropology student, emerged as the UCL heat winner with her idea to apply virtual reality technology to enhance existing psychotherapeutic techniques used to heal childhood trauma and broken attachments. She went on to be highly commended in the pitching final at Plexal, where winning teams from 13 universities competed to get the coveted title of the London Venture Crawl 2019 pitch winner.

Juliet said: “London Venture Crawl far exceeded my expectations. It was terrific to spend the day with other students exploring London's entrepreneurial landscape. The UCL bus gave us access to places and people that would have been intimidating to approach as an individual student. I never imagined that by the end of the day I would be honing a pitch on the top of a double decker bus to present to 12 other universities in the evening. Usually this would have been well outside of my comfort zone, but the encouragement of my peers gave me courage to pitch in front of several hundred people. Thanks to UCL Innovation & Enterprise for making this day possible and to the extremely supportive student group. Our bus rocked!”

Fellow participant, Delano Silva De Aguiar, a Master's student at the Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit, added: “Taking part in the London Venture Crawl, where I had the opportunity to access innovative places in London and interact with many exciting people, was one of my best experiences at UCL so far. It was a true inspiration to start my path as an entrepreneur!”

Photos from the London Venture Crawl 2019

The UCL Innovation & Enterprise team were delighted to organise and host this great event – a result of many months’ meticulous planning – and will start working on next year’s unique route soon. A big thank you to everyone who got involved. 

Find out more about how we support UCL students to develop their entrepreneurial skills and start their own business.

Article by Nadia Forde. Top photo by Nadia Forde, other photos by Matt Clayton, Andreea Vladulescu and David Baird.

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