Innovation & Enterprise


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, working for a large-scale organisation or running your own business, the SPERO programme can help prepare you.

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)

What you’ll learn

By developing your entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll be better able 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

You'll also learn the fundamentals of how to establish an impactful startup or social enterprise.

The programme

The programme is divided into 5 steps:

We recommend you complete these stages in order.

We also have a stand-alone workshop: A practical guide to social entrepreneurship, which you can take any any stage.

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

SPERO introduction: 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: A practical guide to social entrepreneurship

In this one-day workshop you’ll learn what social entrepreneurship is and what’s involved in developing a social entrepreneurship venture. 

Using a new research-based tool, you’ll analyse social entrepreneurship case studies to help you understand the process involved in developing a social entrepreneurial project. You’ll then analyse a social problem and come up with a plan for how you could solve it using a social entrepreneurial approach.

Find out more and book for:

SPERO 1: Develop your entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and mindset

This one-day workshop will cover the fundamentals of creating a novel startup. You’ll also learn how having an entrepreneurial mindset can benefit how you approach your current research and future career. 

Find out more and book for:

SPERO 2: Learn how to turn an idea into an enterprise

On this 2-day workshop you’ll learn about key concepts for early-stage enterprise creation, including ideation, prototyping, testing, building networks, sales, marketing and raising finance.

This workshop will also help you develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and transferable skills such as collaborative working, innovative thinking, and presentation skills.

Find out more and book for:

SPERO 3: Build your enterprise - management and negotiation skills

This 2-day workshop is for doctoral students and early career researchers who are considering starting a business but are unsure how to get started.

This workshop will help you significantly improve your business knowledge and the professional skills needed to start a business.

To attend SPERO 3 you must have completed SPERO 2.

Find out more and book for:

SPERO 4: Turn your business 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.

To attend SPERO 4 you must have completed SPERO 2 or have equivalent experience. You must be committed to attend all sessions.

SPERO 4 will run in the Summer Term of 2023. Kick-off will be on Wednesday, 3 May and then the programme will run on Tuesdays, from 9 May, for 10 weeks.

How to apply for SPERO 4

The deadline for applications is 14 April and successful applicants will be notified by 20 April.

Places on the programme are limited to a maximum of 20 participants.

Find out more and book your place for SPERO 4.

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

    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.