Innovation & Enterprise


UCL Demo Day: two UCL graduates share their experiences

22 May 2023

UCL startups Cilo and MedQ were two of the businesses invited to pitch for investment at UCL’s first Demo Day. They share what it was like to take part, and how the free extracurricular support they’ve had access to at UCL has been instrumental in their startup journeys.

Ryan Brown and Evelina Balt


Ryan Brown (MSc Environmental Design and Engineering, 2019) talks about his business Cilo: a new app that’s all about simplifying carbon action.

Ryan: “I first thought about creating something like Cilo during my MSc. In our Energy Context module, our professor, Ben Croxford, taught us how to calculate our carbon footprint, and I thought: ‘why isn’t this information more broadly available?’

“A friend Laurence, who I worked with after graduating, had had similar ideas. So we both eventually took the plunge to work on our own business.

“Meeting the UK’s net zero target has to start with people taking small, achievable actions, and that’s what Cilo is all about.

“It’s an app that allows you to easily track the carbon in everything you eat and drink, and then suggests tailored ‘carbon reduction’ switches. For example, if you eat a lot of pepperoni pizza (which is high carbon), the app will suggest something like a margarita (which is much lower). 

“These small changes, when added together across an entire population, can have a massive ‘carbon reducing’ impact. Crucially, Cilo can be used to help organisations engage their employees in climate action, and encourage much-needed conversations about sustainability.

“The support we’ve had access to at UCL has been phenomenal. We were accepted into the Hatchery incubator programme at BaseKX, UCL's entrepreneurship hub in King's Cross. That’s given us two years of free office space and access to intensive business training. It’s also been great for networking, and connecting with other early stage founders who are all at a similar place in their journey to us. 

“Having already won over £20,000 in grants through national competitions, at Demo Day we got the chance to pitch our business to a large audience. Off the back of that we’ve now started some promising conversations with potential investors. Outside of the event, we’ve also secured partnerships with corporate partners to trial Cilo with over 300 employees.

“We’re all about accessing the power of community to have a positive impact on climate change. So I urge any budding entrepreneurs to tap into UCL’s entrepreneurial community, too. There’s so much on offer if you’re thinking about building your own thing.”


Evelina Balt (MSc Health Psychology, 2017) shares her experience of setting up MedQ, a new platform to help healthcare professionals save time with remote patient monitoring.

Evelina: “After finishing my master’s, I spent several years working in the NHS and private clinics, and in research settings. 

“One of my main jobs was to collect patient-reported data, which clinical teams use to track patients’ progress and the effectiveness of treatments. But much of this data gathering was happening manually using paper questionnaires. 

“I thought there must be a better way. So I threw myself into reading about digital health solutions and spoke to more than 300 doctors to understand their pain points. 

“I then came upon the Hatchery incubator programme, run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise, which I found out I could apply for as UCL alumna. And everything escalated from there. 

“The team at UCL helped me to build and launch MedQ, an online assessment platform that enables healthcare professionals to complete clinical assessments online and analyse data. Our mission is to make technology accessible to save clinics time, which they can then dedicate to patient care. 

“Pitching at Demo Day in front of over 100 investors was an amazing opportunity. Since university, I’ve always struggled with speaking in front of big audiences. But as part of the Hatchery, we got support from a pitching coach and had lots of chance to practise. 

“I’ve now been approached by multiple investors, and am scheduling calls with number of them. Having recently secured £146,000 of funding, the next stage will be to scale my team with two new recruits. 

“My three bits of advice for budding startups? Be proactive. Think about what success means for you. And remember you don’t need to be brave or extrovert to launch your own business. If I could pitch in front of 100 people, you absolutely can too.”

In total, over 400 new graduate businesses were set up at UCL between 2014 and 2022. Collectively they’ve raised over £300 million in investment and currently employ more than 1,700 people.

Entrepreneurship support for UCL students and recent graduates

If you’re a UCL student or recent graduate, you can get free help with developing entrepreneurial skills or starting your own venture, through UCL Innovation & Enterprise. 

  • Learn more about business and entrepreneurship through our free extracurricular programmes.
  • Develop vital entrepreneurial skills you'll need to flourish in your career. 
  • Get your business idea off the ground by joining The Hatchery incubator programme. You’ll have access to workshops, expert advise and support and free office space. 
  • If you’re a doctoral student, you can grow your entrepreneurial mindset to benefit your current research and future career with our SPERO programme.

Find out more about our free extracurricular support.


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Photos of Ryan Brown and Evelina Balt  © Kirsten Holst