Innovation & Enterprise


SPERO Build: Turn your idea into reality

Work towards turning your entrepreneurial idea into a viable business or social enterprise, with this free 10-week programme for UCL doctoral candidates and early career researchers (ECRs).


This practical programme takes you through developing a proof-of-concept or prototype, building your network, and thinking and communicating commercially. You could also win a share of the prize money.

For: MRes and doctoral students, early career researchers, recent research graduates
Location: UCL BaseKX, 103c Camley Street, London N1C 4PF
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Workshops and one-to-one guidance

Register interest in 2025 programme

Who it’s for

This programme is open to UCL:

  • MRes students
  • doctoral candidates from any year and any discipline
  • post-doctoral researchers
  • early career researcher staff
  • research students who graduated from UCL within the past 2 years

You should have:

  • an idea for a business or social enterprise that you have been working on and want to turn into a reality
  • the commitment to develop your idea, the ability to attend the programme in full, and the intention of pursuing your enterprise idea after the programme has finished

What to expect

SPERO Build takes place over 10 weeks.

It involves:

  • a kick-off event with a meet and greet session (which you can attend online or in-person at BaseKX)
  • six 30-minute one-to-one coaching sessions (online)
  • four 2-hour group coaching sessions, where you’ll present your idea and receive feedback (online or in-person at BaseKX)
  • a mid-programme social event (in-person at BaseKX)
  • a final pitch competition with prize money (in-person at BaseKX)

Throughout the programme, you'll also need to dedicate 2 to 3 hours a week to work independently on your idea.

During the programme you’ll work with experienced start-up coaches and a community of likeminded early-stage entrepreneurs. 

What you'll learn

This programme will help you:

  • understand your sector and market opportunities for the development of your enterprise idea
  • develop a proof-of-concept or prototype of your idea so that you can showcase the product or service
  • network and build relationships with potential customers and collaborators, and illustrate market traction
  • develop your business model, brand and go-to-market strategy, to prepare to raise funds to launch your business and/or begin trading
  • develop your presenting and negotiation skills, to pitch investors on your vision and the market opportunity and/or begin selling to clients / customers
  • understand what the next steps are to continue developing your entrepreneurial idea

About the tutors

Warrick Harniess, Managing Director, Scandinavia Stories

Warrick is an educator and founder of Scandinavia Stories, a learning and development agency that specialises in business startup support and communications. He learnt his craft during a career at Pearson Education, and as a musician inspired by punk rock and the do-it-yourself ethos. Warrick’s first book, Red, White and Radical: What Organisations Can Learn About Change from the Rise of American Conservatism was published in May 2020. 

Mario Moustras, Director, Mazamo Limited

Mario is a leadership and talent development coach who works with researchers and entrepreneurs. Before becoming a coach, Mario worked for the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). He has a PhD in chemistry, and is a chartered scientist and Fellow of the RSC. Mario has worked with scientists and engineers across government agencies, industry and universities. He's led teams through science-related programmes in higher education, enterprise partnerships (especially with small companies) and technology policy.

Dates and times

Kick-off event: Tuesday, 23 April, 5pm to 7pm

One-to-one coaching: each week commencing 29 April, 6 May, 20 May, 27 May, 10 June and 17 June (evenings)

Group coaching: Tuesdays, 14 May, 4 June, 25 June and 2 July, 5pm to 7pm 

Mid-programme social: Friday, 24 May, 5pm onwards 

Final pitch competition: Friday, 5 July, 2pm to 5pm (this will be followed by networking over drinks and canapés from 5pm to 8pm)

All research students and staff are welcome at the final pitch competition and networking on 5 July - find out more and register.

How to apply

Applications are closed for this year.

To get notified when applications open for next year, complete the expression of interest form.


If there is anything we can do to make this programme accessible for you, please email matt.harris@ucl.ac.uk

Filming and photography takes place at our events for promotional purposes. The photographs and recordings will appear on our website and social media channels. If you do not wish to be filmed or photographed, please let a member of staff know on arrival.

Read our privacy notice to understand how UCL Innovation & Enterprise will deal with your personal data.

UCL Innovation & Enterprise reserves the right to make changes to the programme, location and/or speakers without prior notice. Such alterations are occasionally necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.