UCL News


UCL entrepreneurs win global Techstars investment

14 November 2022

Two UCL startups have been selected for prestigious Techstars Accelerator programmes, which provide investment opportunities for early-stage entrepreneurs.

Image of Yuk Chi Chan and James Della Valle

Startups BoxxDocks and Charter have secured coveted spots on the London and Space programmes respectively.

Being chosen for the three-month accelerators, which kicked off in September, means the startups will receive funding, mentorship and access to the Techstars network, to fuel the success of their businesses.

Charter, co-founded by Yuk Chi Chan (LLM International Law, UCL Laws) and Yukun Yin, is developing ATLAS, a collaborative logistics management platform that helps satellite companies to streamline missions and reduce wasted engineering hours so they can get to the launchpad faster.

It is the first British space company to be accepted onto Techstars’ Space Accelerator, which is partnered by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the US Space Force.

Yuk Chi described the award as ‘an incredible opportunity for us to accelerate our trajectory’, adding: “We at Charter are thrilled to be breaking ground as the first British space company to be accepted to Techstars Space, and the only non-US company featured in the class of 2022. With Techstars' long list of incredible partner organisations, illustrious mentors, and storied alumni, we're excited to be the newest members of the Techstars family.”

Techstars is one of the most active investors in spacetech, with more than forty sector investments over the last sixteen years.

Yuk Chi added: “It is a special feeling to know that Techstars recognises our value and believes in our vision. With their support and the numerous incomparable advantages in terms of resources, credibility, mentorship that come with being a Techstars-backed company, we are excited to continue building the new industrial standard for satellite logistics to make space accessible.”

In September, the Charter team attended the world's largest aerospace conference, the 73rd International Astronautical Congress, as part of the UK delegation and launched the alpha build of its product at the British Interplanetary Society's pavilion.

BoxxDocks was co-founded by James Della Valle (MArch and BASc Architecture, The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment) and industry experts Alessandro Attanzio and Amarjit Pall. It addresses two of the main issues of the logistics sector: the shipment of ‘fresh air’, which increases last-mile delivery costs and compounds the already excessive fleet fuel consumption of delivery fleets; and the industry’s adoption of single-use and virgin-based plastics.

The startup also received an award at this year’s UCL Santander Summer Showcase, in recognition of its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals.

James said the team was ‘very excited’ about the Techstars programme, adding: “We have all been working so hard to secure our pre-seed investment that not only takes BoxxDocks to the next stage prior to a national and global rollout, but also validates our sustainable vision for the future of the logistics sector.

“Speaking on behalf of the founding team, it’s safe to say that we see Techstars as a pivotal moment in the progress and development of BoxxDocks and our mission to date.”

Techstars’ London programmes catalyse emerging startups from all over the world, leveraging the city's strengths in diversity, global outlook and talent.

James said two benefits for the company will be gaining traction through exposure to a wider global audience - especially the US logistics market - and structuring their operations to scale sales and prepare for launch.

He added: “There are many other benefits we also see as being a part of Techstars, such as being questioned by an expert team into BoxxDocks and our market, forcing us to address key areas of development while meeting other like-minded founding entrepreneurs across London. Our vision is to become the global industry standard in B2B logistics and sustainable shipping solutions.”

Both startups are currently part of The Hatchery, UCL’s dedicated startup incubator programme based at the university’s entrepreneurship hub, BaseKX, managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise.

The Hatchery programme provides UCL startups with free support and dedicated office space. Businesses benefit from masterclasses, clinics and competitions, to fast-track their success and prepare them for investment.

UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), Professor Geraint Rees, said: “UCL is committed to supporting entrepreneurship that can lead to global impact and transform people's lives for the better. We’re incredibly proud to see the achievements of these brilliant startups recognised by the Techstars programme and are excited to see what the future holds for them.”

To date, Techstars has accepted more than 2,900 companies into its accelerator programmes, with a combined market capitalization of $71bn USD.



Yuk Chi Chan and James Della Valle