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Entrepreneurship training for doctoral students and early career researchers (SPERO)

Grow your entrepreneurial mindset to benefit your current research and future career with the SPERO programme.

This free programme for doctoral students and early career researchers will help you develop your entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and mindset.

Whether your future career lies in academia, consultancy, working for a large-scale organisation or running your own business, the SPERO programme can help prepare you.

You'll receive UCL DocSkills training points through Inkpath on completion of each workshop or programme.

Who it’s for

The SPERO programme is for doctoral students and early career researchers from any discipline with little or no business experience.

It’s open to:

  • MRes students
  • doctoral students
  • post-doctoral researchers
  • early career researcher staff members (within 6 years of graduating from doctoral studies)
  • research students who graduated from UCL within the past 2 years

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn the fundamentals of how to establish an impactful startup or social enterprise, or an enterprising project within a bigger organisation (academia or industry).

After this programme, you’ll be better equipped to:

  • take calculated risks to impact and add value to society
  • use your knowledge, time and money effectively to reach your goals
  • create innovative solutions to grow a project from idea to fruition
  • learn from your experiences and reflect on failures to drive growth
  • communicate your vision to a wide range of audiences

The programme

The programme is divided into three stages:

  • SPERO Explore: How to think entrepreneurially about your career
  • SPERO Learn: How to create a business or social enterprise
  • SPERO Build: Turn your idea into reality

We recommend you complete these stages in order.


SPERO Explore: How to think entrepreneurially about your career

This 2-hour introductory workshop will help you discover entrepreneurial skills you didn’t know you had, and learn how to market these skills.

Find out more and book for:


SPERO Learn: How to create a business or social enterprise

This course provides a practical introduction to entrepreneurship. You’ll learn how to establish an impactful startup or social enterprise, or an enterprising project within a bigger organisation (academia or industry).

This course involves both in-person workshops and half-day online sessions over a number of days.

Following the course, you'll have access to one-to-one advice sessions with SPERO tutors and The Freelancer Club which provides freelancer support services equivalent to a value of £300.

Find out more and book for:


SPERO Build: Turn your idea into reality

This practical 10-week programme will help you to turn your entrepreneurial idea into a viable business or social enterprise.

A series of workshops and one-to-one guidance will help you get your idea ready for market. You’ll also take part in a pitching competition to win a share of the prize money.

This programme will next run from 23 April to 5 July 2024.

The application deadline is midnight on Sunday, 31 March 2024.

Find out more about SPERO Build and apply.


SPERO alumni network 

The SPERO alumni network provides opportunities for you to meet fellow researchers and entrepreneurs at regular events including panel discussions, fireside chats, networking sessions and socials.

The network is open to everyone who has completed a SPERO workshop or is currently participating in SPERO. When you attend a workshop, you'll be added to the network mailing list and informed about upcoming events.

Upcoming events

Watch a video about the SPERO programme

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/49f69fDG

Case study

Students sitting around a table at a workshop at BaseKX
UCL’s entrepreneurship training gives boost to doctoral student’s research and career

UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship programme for doctoral students (SPERO) helped Isobel Pagendam develop an academic research project, undertake an internship and plan future ventures.

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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.

The SPERO programme is part funded by Organisational Development and delivered in partnership with the Doctoral Skills Development Team.