UCL Therapeutic Innovation Networks


Venture Insight - Seminar series for Translational Researchers at UCL

04 October 2021–21 October 2021, 2:00 pm–3:30 pm

Venture Insight Seminar Series banner

This 3-seminar series will help UCL researchers better understand the suitability of venture capital (VC) as a translational funding option.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students






Alina Shrourou


Online (Zoom)
United Kingdom

As part of UCL TRO's mission to demystify the translational funding landscape, we have joined forces with UCL’s own in-house venture fund, the UCL Technology Fund, where Simon Goldman will present on three topics along the venture fund journey to help all UCL academics better understand VCs, highlighting considerations for taking VC investment and improving chances of success. Each session aims to overcome common challenges academics face when engaging with VCs.

Please note all three of these seminars are UCL only events. Please register with your UCL email address. Any tickets with a non-UCL email address will not be provided access to the online event.

The details of each seminar are provided below:

Seminar 1 - What on earth is going on in a VC’s mind?

  • Monday 4th October, 2-3.30pm (BST)

Venture funding can provide ‘rocket fuel’ for translation of academic research into patient impact. Understanding what motivates venture investors is crucial for knowing whether it’s appropriate for you and your program.

Challenge: There are many different options for translational funding at UCL, including traditional academic grants such as those from MRC, Wellcome or CRUK, or internal funding sources such as those managed by the TRO or I&E. Venture funding can provide significant amounts of money as well as development and commercial support to drive innovation all the way to patients, and also involves giving away some control.

Solution: Understanding which source of funding is the most appropriate at the right point in time is crucial for accelerating innovation and maximising impact. Knowing how a venture capitalist thinks – not just in terms of what they think of your particular project, but also how they think about their whole portfolio – is important when interacting with them. Know thine enemy! (or hopefully your friend).

What you will learn: When interacting with any funder, it’s critical to understand their risk/return profile, their timeframe and their incentive structure. We’ll look at each of these factors for funding in general but more specifically for VC support, examining how a venture investor manages their portfolio and makes decisions about any given project or spinout.

Why you should attend: This seminar is an opportunity for you to learn about what motivates VCs and for you to ask lots of questions from UCL’s own in-house venture fund, the UCL Technology Fund. This will enable you to better understand VCs and their behaviour when you interact with them.

Seminar 2 - ‘Due diligence’ and ‘business planning’: a mirror image

  • Thursday 14th October, 2-3.30pm (BST)

So you’ve engaged with a VC about your program. The first thing they’re going to want to do is ‘due diligence’, that is, they’re going to want to know a lot about the data you’ve already gathered, and what that means for the path forwards to patient impact and a profitable exit.

Challenge: This process of due diligence can be very unfamiliar to many academics who’ve not had prior experience of the process of venture investing. Why are they asking me all these questions?

Solution: VCs are focused almost entirely on one thing: risk management. They will often need to present an investment case to their own investment committee, and they will need to find out everything they can about your program so that they can lay out all of the ‘knowns’ and ‘unknowns’ to secure the funding. This includes a good understanding of the unmet need, your technological solution, the commercial opportunity, the path to market, the intellectual property status and, most of all, what de-risking/value-inflection points are coming in future to justify an exit for them.

What you will learn: We’ll take a detailed look at each of the facets of due diligence so that you are well prepared for interacting with VCs. You’ll also learn that ‘business planning’ for a spinout is exactly the same process as a venture investor doing their due diligence, they are simply two sides of the same coin.

Why you should attend: If you’re considering taking VC investment, you should know in advance the sorts of things they’re going to ask not only you and your team, but also external, independent advisors to determine whether or not to invest in your program. Forewarned is forearmed!

Seminar 3 - I’m suspicious of your cap table: what is this sorcery?

  • Thursday 21st October, 2-3.30pm (BST)

A venture investor has decided that they want to invest in your project by spinning out a company. They deliver a term sheet to you which includes mysterious terms such as ‘pre-money valuation’, options and preferences. There’s an enormous amount of work behind all of that, which is not always transparent to everyone involved. It needs to be.

Challenge: Many academics are unfamiliar with how VCs structure deals, and the information that’s provided in a term sheet or a cap table can provoke concern about whether you and the university are ‘getting a good deal’.

Solution: Taking VC funding involves building a very long-term relationship with them. You need to understand the exact terms of that relationship (captured by a term sheet) at the outset – and you need to make sure that you’re happy with these terms. This is because once the deal is signed, you’re going to be giving away a significant amount of control – in return for sums of funding and ongoing support to carry your product or service forwards to patients.

What you will learn: This seminar will provide a detailed look at the process behind building terms for a university spinout, recognising the motivations of VC investors and how they intersect (or otherwise!) with those of academics and universities.

Why you should attend: Taking on venture funding is a big decision. It’s critical for you to understand all of the ins and outs of what it means to take that funding, both in terms of your rights and restrictions, as well as how it can improve your career and driving innovation to impact.

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