UCL and Barclays unleash deep tech venture builder
University College London (UCL) and Barclays have unveiled their “venture builder” for deep tech start-ups in the UK.
The bank has provided (undisclosed) funding to unleash Conception X with the Faculty of Engineering at UCL. Three all-female teams are in the launch cohort.
The initiative will enable PhDs in UCL’s Computer Science programme to turn their dissertation into a deep tech start-up.
Steven Roberts, managing director of Barclays UK Ventures, says: “Deep tech has the potential to transform communities, business and society, but only if talented individuals are given the opportunity to explore the art of the possible.”
Riam Kanso, lead of Conception X and head of student entrepreneurship, UCL Engineering, adds: “PhD students are often encouraged to go into academia or business after graduation but Conception X provides a third path: becoming an entrepreneur.”
The launch cohort consists of 27 teams exploring deep tech areas across areas such as finance and health. This will, for the first time, extend the programme to candidates from other universities outside of UCL.
Over a nine-month period the teams will work on their business idea to create a “viable” start-up. They will get quarterly goal-based mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs, academics, potential investors and future clients.
Teams can also partner with an “intrapreneur” within a corporate to apply deep tech to an issue they would like to solve. Students retain all IP associated with their project.
Barclays and UCL piloted Conception X with 14 teams last year, building a range of deep tech start-ups exploring areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, blockchain and augmented reality. Six teams emerged as fully-fledged start-ups, and many secured their first clients in addition to further funding.
Following that trial, Barclays says its investment will enable Conception X to scale to other universities across the UK over the next few years.
In addition, Barclays will support Conception X teams through Eagle Labs, its co-working, collaboration and incubator network for start-ups and scale-ups in the UK.
The launch of Conception X follows the creation in April last year of a new business unit at Barclays called Barclays UK (BUK) Ventures.