Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS)

Ready to take your idea and turn it into a fully-fledged business? Get dedicated guidance to help you turn your passion and potential into success with IVMS.
Find out more

What’s IVMS?

IVMS is a mentoring service that’s open to any Imperial student, alumni or staff member that can show us that they’re ready to take the big step from idea development to business launch.

IVMS provides you with up to 3 mentors that will work with you as a team for as long as it takes to get you up and running. It’s a unique opportunity for you – not just to get advice from the best, but to tap into their experience and network of contacts. 

The IVMS mentor network in numbers


£ Billion raised

£ Billion in exits

Who is it for?

IVMS is for people that have made considerable progress with their idea, which means that we have strict entry requirements. If you haven’t attended an Idea Surgery or been approved to book Business Coaching or Experts-in-Residence sessions, you won’t be able to access IVMS.

This is a big step up, so you need to show us you’re ready to make the most of what IVMS has to offer. We’ll look at how much progress you’ve made on your idea, how you’ve responded to coaching (using feedback from your Experts-in-Residence/Business Coaching sessions or Programme Manager where applicable) and how much initiative you’ve taken to show off your idea outside the College.

To be eligible for IVMS you must:

Be an Imperial College student or alum (must’ve graduated within the last three years)

Have completed enough customer research to demonstrate that your idea has economic viability

Show that you respond well to coaching

Demonstrate ambition by seeking out funding opportunities and/or entering competitions outside the College

Have approval from the commercialisation office that you’re ready for IVMS – this only applies ICL staff

Have a plan in place and be ready to work on it full-time when you need to

How does it work?

Once we’ve identified that you’re ready for IVMS we’ll contact you so we can match you up with the mentors best suited to your venture.

Your Mentors

Since its launch in 2017, IVMS has recruited 75 successful entrepreneurs and investors from a number of business backgrounds. We also have a number of Directors that head up the scheme:

Dominique Kleyn
Dominique Kleyn

Dominique is the Chair of IVMS. Specialising in product and business development, her career began as a research scientist at Unilever and subsequently at GSK Wellcome. In 1999 Dominique joined Imperial Innovations to build a portfolio of spin-outs and co-founded biotech company Orthonika. She holds both a BSc in Life Sciences and an MBA from Imperial.

“It is so stimulating to help young startups tackle the problems of early-stage venturing, and a great pleasure to follow history in the making for the next generation of British business!”

Richard Gourlay
Richard Gourlay

Richard has been successfully managing venture capital funds and making venture capital investments for 20 years and was also a finance journalist for 14 years. He specialises in Finance and fundraising strategy, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, materials, enterprise management software and is perfectly placed to help startups that are seeking seed funding.

Paul Atherton
Paul Atherton

Paul is the late Founding Director of IVMS and Imperial’s 2021 Alumni Entrepreneur Award winner. He co-founded his first company in 1978, borrowing his investment money from his grandfather. After running a company for over 20 years, Paul learned several important lessons about being an entrepreneur, that he readily shared in his role as an IVMS mentor.

“Ideas are cheap and easy. Doing things is the hard part. It’s useful to have experienced entrepreneurs who can help people avoid making common mistakes.” 


I don’t meet all the criteria, but I’m keen to get moving with my idea. What can I do?

It’s brilliant that you’re so fired up! If you haven’t booked an Idea Surgery, that’s the first and most important step. Attending an Idea Surgery is a vital step toward getting access to our Business Coaching and Expert-in-Residence services too. We also recommend you come along to our online Pitch ‘n’ Mix evenings – where you can practise pitching your idea, get to know your fellow entrepreneurs and share your ideas and experiences.

If you’re doing all this already and are itching to get going, then you need to prepare a one-page document that demonstrates your readiness. Highlight the problem you want to solve, your proposed solution, what the market currently looks like and who your competitors are. Tell us about your team and what you’ve done so far to turn your idea into a business.

How is IVMS different to Business Coaching?

The main difference is that IVMS is for teams and individuals that are at an advanced stage of startup development, whereas you can still be in the idea development stage and be eligible for Business Coaching.

What can I specifically get help with?

It’s impossible to talk specifics. Every idea and venture is different so we match mentors to people and teams on a case-by-case basis. We can guarantee you’ll get help with refining your prototype product/service, finding your target markets, securing funding and growing your business once it’s off the ground.

Can the mentors help me access opportunities to get funding?

In a way! It’s more about helping you network and make the connections that could lead to opportunities to secure funding.

Are IVMS sessions confidential?

Yes. All our mentors will work with you in the strictest confidence.

Is there a limit to how much time I can have with my mentors?

This will depend on you and your mentoring team. All IVMS mentors are keen to help and will go the extra mile when they see your enthusiasm and effort. So we urge all our participants to think beyond set times and develop a rapport, so your relationship develops into one where you can work together in a way that suits you and your mentors. That might be shorter face-to-face sessions and plenty of exchanges over email, longer sessions with little contact in between or something completely different!

Is IVMS purely about mentors?

Not at all! The mentors are the backbone of the service, but IVMS also complements and works with many entrepreneurship centres and programmes across the College. If you’re accepted onto the scheme, you have full access to these resources.


“IVMS is already shaping the future of the company. By linking experienced business advisors with young entrepreneurs, IVMS creates a stronger Imperial community and converts academic ideas into real world impact.”

Andrew Swirski, Founder, Beetlebox (MSc Electrical and Electronics Engineering)

Ready to get started?

Think you’re ready for IVMS? Please email our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager, Darius Gadeikis with your one-pager (see our FAQs 👆) to get the ball rolling!

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Join our community, meet co-founders and grow your entrepreneurial network!

Our monthly social bringing together students and postdocs from every corner of Imperial College London.

Stay productive and focused while working on your business idea. Make the E-Lab your office and creative space.

Use your creativity and critical thinking to solve a challenge set by us. Win prizes for the best idea and best pitch!


Speak to someone about your idea and learn the skills you need to test it in the real world


Fast-track your idea on one of our cohort-based entrepreneurship programmes

Imperial’s flagship entrepreneurship programme for students and postdocs with an annual prize fund of £100K.

The UK’s leading university programme championing women-led startup teams with an annual £30K prize fund.

A 12 week programme for students looking to give their business idea a big developmental push over the summer months.

More available programmes


Get expert support and advice to turn your idea into a successful commercial venture


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Find us

Imperial College London
Level 0, Sherfield Building
(Access next to Great Hall)
South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ