Discovery Fund

Need a cash boost to see if your idea has potential? The Discovery Fund could provide just the support you’re looking for. Start small, dream big and learn the entrepreneurial skills that really matter.

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

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What is the Discovery Fund?

The Discovery Fund (formerly the Pioneer Fund) is a grant programme which provides up to £500 for students and recent alumni who want to explore an early stage idea.

We’ve developed the Discovery Fund to help you get out of the building, find customers, design business experiments and discover if an idea is worth pursuing.

 It’s not just about the money. We also help you develop the practical entrepreneurial skills you need to make the most of your grant. You’ll have access to our dedicated online learning module “Testing Business Ideas” and receive expert coaching and facilitated peer-to-peer mentoring by Dr Harveen Chugh, Senior Teaching Fellow at Imperial College Business School.

We’ve got 20 awards of £500 available and we’re prioritising applications from people/teams that have never engaged with the Enterprise Lab before, so if this is your first time with the Lab this could be the perfect opportunity.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme you’ll have learnt how to:
Explain a new business idea in a clear and compelling way 
Design and conduct customer interviews using “The Mom Test” principles
Critically assess a new business idea and decide if it is worth pursuing further
Identify and prioritise critical assumptions underpinning an idea
Design and conduct simple business experiments

Entry requirements

  1. You can apply as an individual, or in a team of up to five people.
  2. Your team lead must be a  current  registered Imperial College London student studying an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification, postdoc or early career researcher or recent alumni from the last three years. (graduated no earlier than 2017).
  3. You must not have previously received any seed funding.

You can find more information on our entry requirements in our programme terms and conditions.

Key dates

16 November 5pm
Deadline for all Discovery Fund applications 
23 November
2020/21 Discovery Fund cohort announced
2 December

Virtual welcome and orientation session

The successful teams will attend an online induction session to meet the cohort and programme team, and receive an introduction to the programme.

All teams will then be expected to complete the ‘Assumptions Mapping’ session of the online learning module ‘Testing Business Ideas’.

Week commencing 11 January

Coaching workshop 

All participants will review the ordering of their assumptions in an interactive workshop with Dr Harveen Chugh and agree which online session they are going to do next: ‘Talking to Customers’ or ‘Designing Business Experiments’.

Every team gets £250 from their grant to test its first business idea hypothesis.

Week commencing 8 February

Peer review session

All participants present their discovery findings, what they’ve learned about their idea so far and what they’ll do next. At this point, teams can apply for a further grant of £250 to test two additional business idea hypotheses.

Week commencing 8 March
Results Day

Each team presents what they’ve learned about their idea and its potential after carrying out their first batch of experiments.


Can I submit several projects?

Yes! As long as you’ve done the required research on them all (see our Entry Requirements 👆) you can submit several ideas. However, only one idea will be taken forward to the full programme if you are selected.


You can apply to this programme, as well as WE Innovate at the same time.

How advanced do ideas have to be to apply?

This programme has been specially designed to help first time founders with early stage ideas develop the practical entrepreneurial skills they need to pursue a venture idea and discover if it’s viable. If you’re not sure that your idea is suitable then please contact a member of the team (see below 👇).

Do you take any equity in my team/company?
No. We’re in this to help you, and have designed this programme to give you the skills and support so you can create your own company and carve out your own future.

When can I expect a reply regarding my application?

We aim to let all our all applicants know if they’ve been accepted onto the programme by 5pm on 23 November.

I’ve submitted my application, but haven't received a confirmation email. Should I have?

No. We don’t want to clutter up your inbox, so we don’t send confirmation emails. You’ll have seen a ‘Thank you’ message pop up when you submitted your application and that’s it! Feel free to take a screenshot of this message as confirmation, but no further action is needed. 💁‍♂️

What are the terms and conditions?

You can find the programme terms and conditions here.

Can I speak to someone about my application?

Yes, if you have any questions please get in touch with Fredrika (Freddie) Odelstierna:


We applied to the Discovery Fund programme so we could test and validate our concept. The teaching and one-to-one coaching were invaluable and allowed us to refine our value proposition, identify our target audience and use it to test our prototype. Now we have a sound foundation on which to build Kladdi.

Rishab Dugar and Marc Matta, Co-founders of Kladdi

How to apply

Applications for this cohort are now closed. 




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