UCL alumni among leading young entrepreneurs and creatives
21 April 2021
The pioneering achievements of four UCL alumni have been recognised, after being named in Forbes’ annual ‘Top 30 Under 30’ list of leading entrepreneurs and creatives in Europe.
Now in its sixth year, the prestigious list is divided into ten categories, with members of UCL’s enterprising community represented in three:
- Ali Tehrani (UCL Economics and Geography) was named in the Media and Marketing category as founder of Astroscreen, which uses AI to improve internet communities.
- Kaitlin Fritz (UCL History of Art) and Olga Kravchenko were named in the Art and Culture category as co-founders of award winning education technology startup Musemio.
- Mariam Jimoh (UCL Biomedical Sciences) made the Technology category as founder of Oja, a delivery service for local ethnic groceries.
- Bolu Babalola (UCL American Politics and History) was also named in the Media and Marketing category for her best-selling short story collection, Love in Colour. She was also recognised for her work as an ambassador for The World Literacy Foundation.
Vital support from the UCL startup ecosystem
Astroscreen and Musemio were supported at BaseKX, UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub, run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise. There, they received business advice, mentorship and the right environment to structure and grow their companies further. They were also able to access specialist training programmes and take part in networking events.
They’re part of a thriving community of entrepreneurial students and alumni at UCL. In 2019/20, UCL’s graduate startups employed 1,600 people, and attracted £44 million in external investment. In 2020, three UCL startups were selected for the world-leading business accelerator programme Y Combinator.
Dr Kathryn Walsh, Executive Director, UCL Innovation & Enterprise, said: “I congratulate all the enterprising individuals who are rightly recognised in this prestigious list for their creativity, hard work and determination. It’s been a challenging 12 months for the small business community. As the Forbes list shows, our young entrepreneurs are undaunted and are continually bringing forward innovative ideas and solutions. This activity will form the bedrock of the economic recovery that we are all hoping for.”
Astroscreen: safeguarding social media
It’s been a particularly busy but memorable 12 months for UCL startup Astroscreen. The company helps businesses and the government detect and mitigate the effects of disinformation.
Astroscreen was highlighted in a 2020 report by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as an example of a British company tackling false, misleading or harmful online narrative. During the coronavirus pandemic, Astroscreen found that most of the misinformation linking 5G telecommunications networks to COVID-19 was spread by real people, including celebrities and influencers.
Ali comments: “Social networks are designed to maximise engagement and these same features lead to online mobs, harassment and disinformation. At Astroscreen, we want to make social networks a safer place and we’re starting with disinformation detection.”
In addition to receiving dedicated entrepreneurship support, the company also secured seed investment from The UCL Technology Fund. The fund invests in commercialisation opportunities arising from UCL's research. It’s managed by AlbionVC in collaboration with UCL Business (UCLB), part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise.
Musemio: immersive and educational virtual reality experiences
Musemio is an educational product that sparks children’s wonder in arts and culture and reinforces key learning outcomes for their age. Musemio has been going from strength to strength in recent years, for example winning Innovate UK’s Fast Start competition for ‘cutting-edge’ startups in 2020.
The company makes mobile virtual reality (VR) games that allow children to explore arts, culture and history in a fun, accessible way. Its partners include Royal Museums Greenwich and the London Transport Museum.
Musemio’s approach is curriculum-led and evidence-based. It's underpinned by pedagogy developed from research at the UCL Institute of Education’s EDUCATE programme.
- Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe 2021
- innovation and enterprise support for UCL students and alumni
- Bolu Babalola’s novel Love in Colour
- UCL Technology Fund
- Top left to bottom right: Bolu Babalola (credit Kelly Green), Ali Tehrani, Kaitlin Fritz, Mariam Jimoh.