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16 September 2019

Global investors turning to universities for start ups

In the first Demo Day of its kind, hundreds of individuals gathered for an evening of innovation, inspiration and investment.

King's20 venture, German Kraft
King's20 venture, German Kraft

Three of the UK’s leading universities, 15 of their extraordinary ventures, over 100 UK and international investors and hundreds of people from the universities’ communities gathered to pitch, listen to and invest in world changing concepts.

Start-ups handpicked from King's20 Accelerator, Imperial's Venture Catalyst Challenge and UCL's Hatchery, covering a diverse range of industries including healthcare, education, fashion and technologies including machine learning, AI and robotics, were pitched to investors with the aim of sparking further investment and support.

The new generation of university innovators are motivated by change, solving problems and sustainability in all contexts with ideas which are fundamentally about positively challenging systems, and delivering change and impact.  Inspirational technology entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a UK mobile-only bank, Anne Boden MBE, opened the event. In 2018, she received an MBE for services to financial technology and was named in Forbes as one of Europe's 'Top 50 Women working in Tech'.

“The wonderful thing about this event is it brings together people to inspire each other, to listen to each other’s pitches, to see and experience the possible. “Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs are very ‘samey’. They’re actually 30-year-old guys with beards and I want to inspire those of us who are not 30-year-old guys with beards to actually take up the challenge and become an entrepreneur.”

Anne Boden MBE, CEO of Starling Bank, a UK mobile-only bank

London Demo Day was a unique collaboration between King’s, Imperial College London and UCL (University College London) to showcase the best early-stage and high potential entrepreneurs to the vibrant network of global investors keen to bring new innovation to London. The 15 investment-ready ventures pitching included: Panakeia Technologies, building the universal one-step engine for precision cancer diagnosis; Polipo, delivering flushable sanitary pads that are 100% biodegradable; and Musemio, a personalised virtual reality educational platform that brings culture to life for kids.

Julie Devonshire OBE, Director of King’s Entrepreneurship Institute, said: “I couldn’t be more proud of our ventures, they were outstanding. Their pitches were polished, compelling and entertaining and I truly do not think you would find better anywhere in the world. The diversity amongst the entrepreneurs and their ideas was immense. 

“We had so many prestigious investors in the room who work on a global scale and half of these had never engaged with any of our universities before. This just shows us all how important universities are now in the entrepreneurial space.”

Frank Tong, Managing Partner at QBN Capital, a newly formed VC fund focusing on companies with technologies who want to expand their business to Asia, attended London Demo Day as an international investor.

"UK universities produce many great tech entrepreneurs and start-ups every year. Events like the London Demo Day is great for investors like us to connect with universities, and a one-stop-shop for sourcing innovative ideas and businesses."

Frank Tong, Managing Partner at QBN Capital

King's20 is a year-long Accelerator programme aimed at supporting the 20 brightest ventures from King's to reach their potential. The programme is open to all King's students, staff and alumni and aims to be the first university accelerator to reach and maintain gender parity by 2021. The inclusive program focuses heavily on the entrepreneur with 91% of its entrepreneurs having improved their leadership skills during their time with the accelerator. It also offers 12 months of office space at the historic Bush House, an average of 50 expert mentorship sessions per team, £125,000 of grants to support scaling and more.

Since 2016, King’s20 start-ups have raised more than £14.8m in investment, have generated £11.4m in revenue and employ over 260 people. Find out more about the King’s20 Accelerator programme and the work of the team of King’s Entrepreneur Institute.

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