Venture Catalyst Challenge

7 weeks, 5 tracks and £90,000 up for grabs. The Venture Catalyst Challenge is Imperial College London’s flagship entrepreneurial competition.

 

And the 2022 Grand Final Winner is….

 

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What is the Venture Catalyst Challenge?

The VCC is Imperial’s flagship entrepreneurial competition for Imperial students and alumni to develop an innovative idea for commercialisation AND win big!

We’re talking 7 intensive weeks of evening masterclasses, 1-1 coaching, and meetings with experts, all with one aim – to help you bring your idea to commercial reality while growing your knowledge, skills, and network. It’s a unique opportunity not to be missed!

Workshop and pitch final of the venture catalyst challenge

Support tailored for your idea

The entrepreneurial universe is vast – so we have 5 tracks to ensure you’re teamed up with the most suitable coaches and experts.

Creative & Consumer

Are you breaking ground in the creative and consumer-facing industries? Then this track is for you! Whether it’s fashion, art, music, videogames or design, we’ve got you covered.

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Digital & Finance

Perhaps your project will redefine the way we shop or play. Maybe you’re revolutionising cryptocurrencies and blockchain. If this strikes a chord, this is your track!

Energy & Environment

This track is for teams that are hell-bent on solving the energy crisis, stopping our ice caps from melting and generally cleaning up our eco-act!

Health & Wellbeing

Want to disrupt consumer health, level-up our healthcare system or help us take more ownership of our wellbeing? Then say hello to your new track!

 

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AI & Robotics

If you’re looking into nano technology, advances in machine learning or ways to make the cyber world a safer place, then you’ll get the best support on this track.

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Want support to develop your entrepreneurial idea?
VCC Workshop

The Prizes

Grand Final Prize

£20,000
The VCC winning team will be chosen by our judging panel

Track Winner Prizes

5 x £10,000

The winner of each track will go on to compete in the live Grand Final

Moonshot Prize

£10,000

Show us you’re challenging the norm and pushing innovation to the limit and you could win an extra cash boost to help you get your idea off the ground

Social Impact Prize

£10,000

Last but by no means least, we’ll be on the lookout for teams whose work is inspired by a desire to have a positive impact on society.

Meet the 2022 cohort

This year we have 25 of the most innovative teams from Imperial taking part in the Venture Catalyst Challenge. They’re developing ventures ranging from an acoustic metamaterial for noise cancellation to a fully autonomous ocean-going sailboat! 

VCC 2021 cohort on zoom

Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme you’ll:

Learn how to secure your first collaboration or customer

Learn which funding pathways are right for you

Gain an understanding of your IP and how to protect it

Build your venture’s story and deliver a compelling pitch

Entry requirements

  1. You must be a student registered at Imperial College London (first-year undergraduates to final year PhD student).
  2. Alumni within three years of graduation (no earlier than 2019) can also be team leaders.
  3. Team members can be students, alumni, or external.
  4. You must not have raised more than £100,000 in grants, investment or contracts for your venture.
  5. Your application should show that you have carried out customer and market research to demonstrate a real problem and an innovative potential solution.

Key dates

APPLICATIONS OPEN

Applications to the programme will open Monday 29 November 2021 and will close at 23:59 on Wednesday 19 January 2022

    LAUNCH EVENT

    Tuesday 1 February – 6pm to 7:30pm GMT

    During Launch Day we will be:

    • Learning more about what to expect as part the VCC
    • Meeting all the 25 participating teams, with each team delivering short pitches to the rest of the cohort.
    • Hearing from programme alumni.
    WEEK 1
    • Masterclass – Tuesday 8 February – 6pm to 7:30pm GMT

    Masterclass on key customer development tools for early stage startups.

    • Business Coaching – Tuesday 8 February to Friday 11 February

    Coaching occurs in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you’re admitted onto the programme.

    Coaching is delivered by professional business coaches on Zoom. Please come prepared with your draft KTH IRL (further information on this will be provided on joining the VCC).

    WEEK 2
    •  Team Culture Masterclass – Tuesday 15 February – 6pm to 7:30pm GMT

    In small groups, teams will be working together to discuss key challenges they are facing, give advice and support one another. This will be facilitated by an expert.

    Coaching will occur on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. You will be able to book your preferred session once you join VCC. 

    • Legal Expert Meeting – Tuesday 15 February to Friday 18 February

    These are one-to-one meetings with a Legal expert in order to discuss the legal questions you have with regards to your venture. In preparation for this session you will have a pre-recorded video to watch. 

    These meetings occur in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you join VCC.

    • Check-ins with the ELab team – Tuesday 15 February to Friday 18 February

    These are 20 minute check-ins for you to raise any concerns or queries, and for the VCC programme team to make sure all is well with your team!

    These meetings occur in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you join VCC.

    WEEK 3
    • Fundraising Panel Masterclass – Tuesday 22 February – 6pm to 7:30pm

    In small groups, teams will be working together to discuss key challenges they are facing, give advice and support one another. This will be facilitated by an expert.

    Coaching will occur on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. You will be able to book your preferred session once you join VCC. 

    • Business Coaching – Tuesday 22 February to Friday 25 February

    Coaching occurs in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book on Launch Day. Coaching is delivered by professional business coaches in the Enterprise Lab.

    • Finance XiR – Tuesday 22 February to Friday 25 February
    WEEK 4
    • Building a Deck Masterclass – Tuesday 1 March – 6pm to 7:30pm GMT

    We’ll be reviewing how to create a clear and impactful slide deck in preparation for the VCC Heats.

    • Sponsor Meeting – Monday 28 February to Friday 4 March

    Each team will meet a representative from their track sponsor. This is an opportunity to present your venture externally and ask for connections.

    These meetings occur in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you join the programme

    • IP Expert Meeting – Tuesday 1 March to Friday 4 March

    These are one-to-one meetings with an IP expert in order to discuss the IP around your innovation and iron out any issues you might have around this. It will also help you understand how to share details around your work in public without revealing too much!

    These meetings occur in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you join VCC.

    • Check-ins with the ELab team – Tuesday 1 March to Friday 4 March

    These are 20 minute check-ins for you to raise any concerns or queries, and for the VCC programme team to make sure all is well with your team!

    These meetings occur in the daytime (9 to 5), slots will be available to book once you join the programme.

     

    WEEK 5
    • Masterclass – Tuesday 8 March – 6pm to 8pm GMT

    This masterclass focusses on helping you tell your venture’s story.

    • Business Coaching – Tuesday 8 March to Friday 11 March

    Coaching occurs in the daytime (9 to 5), slots will be available to book once you join VCC. Coaching is delivered by professional business coaches in the Enterprise Lab.

    • Pitch Training – Monday 7 March to Friday 11 March

    Each team will have a session with a pitch training expert in order to prepare for their pitch at the Heats the week following.

    Pitch training occurs in the daytime (9 to 5 GMT), slots will be available to book once you join VCC

    WEEK 6
    • Track Heats – Tuesday 15 March and Wednesday 16 March

    Teams will be competing in their tracks for a £10,000 prize and a chance to pitch at the Grand Final.

    • Slide review 1-2-1 – Thursday 17 and Friday 18 March 

    Selected Finalists will meet 1-2-1 with a designer to review their slide decks.

    WEEK 7
    • Dress rehearsal – Wednesday 23 March 

    All selected teams will need to attend the Final dress rehearsal.

    • Grand Final – Thursday 24 March – 6.30pm to 9pm GMT

    Selected teams will pitch at the VCC Grand Final, where a winner will be awarded £20,000.

    The Final date and time may be subject to change.

    FAQs

    Who can apply?

    The programme is open to all students registered at Imperial College London from first year undergraduates to final year PhD students. Alumni within three years of graduation (no earlier than 2019) can also be team leaders. 

    Team members can be students, alumni, or external. 

    Can I speak to someone about my application?

    Absolutely! You can chat to us during our online clinic times by booking into a VCC Office Hour.

    What stage of development does my project have to be at?

    We select projects based on the strength of the problem and solution being addressed and the innovative potential presented. At a minimum, your application should show that you have carried out customer and market research. 

    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.

    My degree is very time consuming, I like the sound of the programme but I don't think I can commit the time for this programme. What should I do?

    Your studies always come first and we don’t want to get in the way of them. Our strictest requirement is that you’re available for all the dates we’ve outlined. We’re happy to answer more questions you have about time, but only you’ll know how much work you can take on and fit into your schedule.

    I already have an idea and there is some intellectual property associated with my idea. What is your policy on IP and will you help me navigate questions around IP?

    Intellectual Property, IP, Trademarks, Patents, Disclosure, Classifications, Fees, Examinations… IP is complex and can be difficult to navigate. We have in house IP expertise from the Research Office. We also bring in external expertise from patent attorneys to participate in the course. IP is incredibly important and it is even more important to get it right at the start. Our IP experts will help you to decide on what the best course of action is.

    As there are no two situations which are alike, feel free to discuss your idea/plan with us before applying for the programme.

    In applying for the Venture Catalyst Challenge, it is implied that you own the IP for your idea and that none of the exceptions below apply. Please note that your idea is subject to the College’s IP policies. If your idea does not meet these terms then you may be asked to revise your proposal or leave the programme.

    Guidance related to student IP is available through the Summary Guidance for Inventors: Student IP. In the first instance, a student owns the IP they generate in the course of their studies at the College, unless one of the following exceptions applies:

    1. They generate IP which is subject to governing terms or an agreement with an external organisation whereby the IP vests with College or a third party; or
    2. They generate IP which builds upon existing IP generated by College Employees or Associates; or
    3. They generate IP jointly with College Employees or Associates; or
    4. They are, or have the status of, College Employee (in which case they are treated by College and the law as employees).

    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 skills and support so you can create your own company and carve out your own future.

    I'm not sure about which track I fit into, what should I do?

    Don’t panic! All you need to do is choose three tracks that you think align with your project. If you think your idea only fits with one track, then pick that one. It’s our job to determine the best track for your project and we won’t be judging your idea based on the tracks you have selected. 

    I haven't received a confirmation email after submitting my application, is this normal?

    A confirmation message should appear once you have reviewed and submitted your application. If you do not see the message please double check that you have pressed submit after the last question. 

    When can I expect a reply regarding my application?

    We aim to notify all applicants of their status by 5pm on Friday 29 January. 

    What are the Terms and Conditions?

    You can find the programme Terms and Conditions here.

    Meet the Alumni

    Deploy Tech
    Deploy Tech

    Deploy has developed the world’s first of a kind air-deployed, ready-to-use concrete water tank.

    SaltyCo
    SaltyCo

    SaltyCo combines material science and regenerative agriculture to create planet-positive textiles.

    Onsee
    Onsee

    Onsee enables you to move from Point A to B when and where you want without fear of safety on the road. They are designed to maximise safety for cyclists and increase awareness of drivers without compromising on style or time.

    The Shellworks
    The Shellworks

    Winners of the Venture Catalyst Challenge 2019, The Shellworks, have created a plastic alternative from seafood waste that breaks down in any natural environment, allowing consumers to throw away their waste worry-free.

    Testimonials

    “The Venture Catalyst Challenge was an intense crash course in entrepreneurship, providing us with the skills, opportunity and network we required to bring our platform from concept to product.”

    Luke Geoghegan, Co-founder of SOCRATES
    Winner of the Health & Wellbeing Track 2019, sponsored by P&G Ventures

    How to apply

    Applications for 2022 are now closed. You can get support with your idea or venture through booking an Idea Surgery and attending our events.

    Sponsors

    Headline sponsor
    HUAWEI

     

    Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. Operating in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world, Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.

     

    www.huawei.com
    MedTech SuperConnector

     

    MedTech SuperConnector (MTSC) is designed to accelerate the early-stage development of innovative medical technologies, including devices, diagnostics and digital healthcare solutions.

    Led by Imperial but combining the expertise of eight academic institutions, MTSC offers early-career researchers the funding, training, advice and access to industry partners they need to help fast-track the translation of their research discoveries.

     

    medtechsuperconnector.com