Imperial College London launches innovation fund for early-stage startups

Josh Peachey's picture

Imperial College London has launched its first Innovation Fund to invest in early-stage, high-growth, knowledge-intensive companies created at the university. 

Imperial's strong recent performance has seen their number of startups more than double in the last five years, attracting approximately £800m of new investment. 

Notable spinout successes include GraphicsFuzz, which sold to Google in 2018, and Magic Pony, an AI startup that was acquired by Twitter in 2016. 

The fund will help support the commercial development of Imperial’s discoveries into solutions in medicine, engineering, biochemistry, genetics, materials, quantum computing, data science, and more. 

The fund will invest in solutions founded by a member of staff or a student, or with a research or development link, to build a portfolio of (S)EIS-qualifying investee companies. 

It will invest at early-stage and provide follow-on funding, and will invest alongside other venture capital funds, investment management companies, and investor groups. It may also seek matched grant funding from suitable institutions.

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial College London, said: “Early stage investment really matters for deep science and technology startups. The Imperial College Innovation Fund will provide invaluable support to Imperial founded companies at this critical stage in their growth.

“Imperial’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is unrivalled in the UK. Our staff and students are founding companies that move markets, disrupt industries, and address societal challenges.  We are immensely proud of the economic and social impact they deliver for the world. This bold step will offer new ways for investors to engage with Imperial’s groundswell of entrepreneurial talent, while amplifying the impact of our work.”

In 2019, Imperial took its technology transfer organisation back in-house, to provide the wider investor community direct access to the College’s most innovative entrepreneurs, their ideas, and startups. 

Facilities and programmes brought in to help support new ideas at Imperial include the Enterprise Lab, the White City Incubator, the Translation & Innovation Hub, the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service, and the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace. 

Parkwalk has been an active investor in world-changing technologies emerging from the UK’s leading universities and research institutions over the past five years, and will be managing the fund on behalf of Imperial. 

Moray Wright, CEO of Parkwalk, added: “Imperial is one of the world’s great universities, with a particularly strong reputation in deep science and technology. Its startup companies are developing disruptive technologies that can have global impact and benefit wider society, as well as create the potential for significant investor returns.”