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Are you a Cambridge postdoc working on innovative research? Do you have a great business idea?

Whatever stage your idea is at, The Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition can help you realise its full potential – and you could be in the running to win £20k investment.

Run by Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge, The Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition has become a key annual programme in the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and has spawned a number of successful spin-out companies including Nu Quantum, Porotech, Semarion and Xampla.

Not just a pitching competition, it features a programme of activities designed to help accelerate the creation of businesses from University research. We help you develop your idea through business modelling workshops and guidance on writing your first business plan through to presentation skills and pitch coaching, with access to mentors throughout the process.

Watch to find out what it’s all about…

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Welcome to the Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition

Applications for 2023 are now open

The 2023 competition was launched at an event held at The Pitt Building on Wednesday 19 April, where we gave an overview of the competition, heard from our sponsors and the experiences of a brilliant panel of company founders who are previous entrants and prize winners.

Missed the Launch Event? 

Watch it back here


Apply before 16 July:

To be eligible to enter, the team must:

  • include a current Postdoc
  • have the support of your Project Leader if relating to your research
  • have not already received investment or prize money totalling >£100,000
  • have not won a prize in a previous year’s Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition with the same idea.

Please refer to the Handbook for more details about eligbility and entry requirements.

Important Documents

2023 Competition Timeline and Stages

First Round

All postdocs are invited to attend our series of training workshops which provide hands-on help from our trainers to take the next step towards starting a company, preparing your business model canvas & submitting your business plan.

Submissions for this round include:

  • Application form
  • Up to 20 detailed slides
  • Business Model Canvas chart


After the first selection round, each semi-finalist is matched with a mentor who is a seasoned academic entrepreneur from our network. The mentors work with the semi-finalists to help them improve their business plans.

Submissions for this round include:

  • 2-minute introductory video
  • 15 slide presentation
  • 5-10 page business plan
  • Updated Business Model Canvas


If shortlisted as a finalist, applicants also receive expert one-to-one pitch training to hone their business pitches.

Finalists go on to pitch their business ideas to a panel of expert judges at the Grand Finale event taking place, this year, at Peterhouse on Thursday 9 November.

Submissions for this round include:

  • Updated version of slide presentation
  • Updated business plan
  • Cover slide for Grand Finale

Training workshops


Our hands-on workshops give you the best possible start in taking the next step towards starting a company, preparing your business model canvas & submitting your business plan.

An Introduction to Business Modelling

Led by Ludo Chapman of The Innovation Practice, the first of two sessions which will provide postdocs with an overview to business modelling and will take them through how to use the business model canvas effectively when considering their own business idea.

Missed the event?


How to write your First-stage Business Plan

Thursday 1 June 2023, 3.00-5.30pm, The Pitt Building

This second session provides postdocs with guidance on writing their first phase business plan. We will take information used during the initial business modelling session with Ludo and apply it when going through a basic template slide pack.

Register now


Again, this year, Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition semi-finalists will be offered an additional programme of activities to support and accelerate their business idea.

Comprising a blend of round table discussions, one-to-one sessions and opportunities to engage with other semi-finalists, topics covered include customer validation, building a team, investment and pitching. Semi-finalists will be invited to participate in this additional programme, taking place one day a week during the summer mentoring period (August).

Need advice?

For an informal chat about your entry, you can contact us by email below or come speak to us in-person or online.

Contact us


Weekly Surgeries

To help with applications, we host weekly online drop-in sessions during the first three months of the competition period.

Impact Intros

Drop in for a chat at our Monthly drop-in sessions

Impact Intros – Monthly Drop-in

Talk to us online

You can also talk to us outside of the competition period, to receive feedback and support on your business idea.

Online drop-in sessions

2023 Competition sponsors and prizes

£20k investment sponsored by Cambridge Enterprise
£10k investment sponsored by Cambridge Innovation Capital
£5k investment sponsored by Oxbridge Angels
£5k Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences
1 year membership at ideaSpace for all finalists

Competition Sponsors

Taylor Vinters, part of the Mishcon de Reya Group, is an international law firm supporting the businesses which drive the innovation economy, and the entrepreneurs and private wealth that underpin them.

CIC logo

2nd Prize Sponsor

Cambridge Innovation Capital backs world-leading life sciences and technology companies with an affiliation to Cambridge, Europe’s leading capital for innovation. As a preferred investor for the University of Cambridge, they have unparalleled access to investment opportunities in the ecosystem.

Oxbridge Angels

3rd Prize Sponsor

Oxbridge Angels are uniting founder-friendly financing with a global network of world-class multi-industry experts to accelerate and fund early-stage companies

Rising Star Prize Sponsor

The Women in Therapeutics & Medical Innovation Network (WIThMI) founded by The Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences will be providing investment to support a female applicant whose business opportunity is in the remit of Therapeutics or Medtech.

ideaSpace logo

Prize Sponsor

ideaSpace is a community of founders and entrepreneurs across 3 great locations in Cambridge

2022 Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition Grand Finale finalists

Revisited: The 2022 Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition

Watch back The Grand Finale


Learn more about the 2022 winners, finalists and semi-finalists:

2022 semi-finalists2022 winners and finalists

Why apply?

It was more than just a pitching competition; after each round of mentoring I was able to refine my ideas and presentation into a form that I can now confidentally present to investors and clients.

Nicholas Jose, Accelerated Materials founder and 2021 Winner

The Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition gave me the opportunity, with the help of the different mentors, to refine my business plan and bring it to a state where I can now confidently present it to potential investors

Benjamin Droguet, Sparxell founder and 2022 Winner

The support of experienced and enthusiastic mentors provided by Cambridge Enterprise has been valuable in filling the gap between my academic-oriented skills and attitute and an entrepreneurial approach to innovation and communication.

Giorgia Longobardi, Cambridge Gan Devices founder and 2016 Winner

The Postdoc Business Plan Competition has been a fantastic experience. It gave us the support and the incentive needed to develop our first business plan and the guidance we have received from our assigned Adrian Alexa has been invaluable.

Freya Jephcott, Univursa founder and 2019 Winner

The mentoring and coaching has really helped me improve the plan and my pitching skills. Now, winning the prize and the investment from Cambridge Enterprise will allow Porotech to take a further step towards the commercialisation of its scientific findings.

Tongtong Zhu, Porotech founder and 2018 Winner

This was probably the best competition I have entered because of its unique learning nature. It has played a huge part in helping me understand different aspects of strategy development and marketing.

Gita Khalili Moghaddam, Glycovue founder and 2020 Winner