Start a company or social enterprise

If creating a company or social enterprise is the preferred route for commercialising your idea or invention, with over 20 years’ experience in company creation behind us, we have the know-how to guide you through the process. We can support you, whether you’re a student or academic, through direct investment as you build teams and raise the financing you need to develop products and services from your  research.

Quick links: Business plan slides | Portfolio companies | Get in touch

We offer support by

  • Advising on translational funding to help you scope the commercial potential of your idea
  • Guiding on business planning and strategy – make a start now by downloading our business plan slides for use in investment pitches
  • Matching a company with experienced experts and mentors who can help build strong, professional teams as the spin-out grows
  • Providing early stage seed funding
  • Managing the milestone payments generated by the underlying intellectual property (IP) licence fees and royalties
  • Assisting with ongoing business management, including links to later stage investors

We work alongside you, helping you to make your business plan stronger; providing funding for consultants and proof of market studies; and connecting you with the best industry experts, mentors and managers.

We maintain excellent links with angel groups and venture capital firms, including our sister fund Cambridge Innovation Capital  (CIC), allowing our companies to build relationships with high quality follow-on funders.

Since 1995, we have invested in over 100 companies across a wide range of sectors. Our portfolio companies have gone on to raise over £1.7bn in further investment and grant funding. The evergreen nature of our fund allows us to take a long-term view. All income realise from investments is returned to the fund to support the development of future companies.

Click to see our list of portfolio companies.

If you are a postdoc at the University of Cambridge, you can enter the annual Postdoc Business Plan competition that we host with the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPOC). Entries open 1st May.

Your investment options

We invest up to £1m in each University spin-out from investment funds we manage on the University’s behalf. Significant follow-on funding is available through CIC, which has strong ties with the University of Cambridge and works closely with us. CIC may also invest at the seed stage as a precursor to further investment. 

We offer a range of investment options to help develop new ventures, including:

  • Pathfinder funding of up to £20k to help carry out market and IP assessments and to build business strategies
  • Software Pathfinder funding of up to £20k to carry out Minimal Viable Product development, including prototype development, field testing and customer pilots
  • Social Pathfinder of up to £20k for social enterprises emerging from the University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Social Venture Incubator at Cambridge Social Ventures
  • Fast 75 funding of up to £75k to gather additional data and initial customer feedback as preparation for a first funding round
  • Seed investment of up to £500k to provide the first stages of company funding to advance technology development and management

Once our investment is completed we continue to work with you to help develop and grow your business.

 The process

  • Contact us for an early discussion about your idea and its potential. A member of our Seed Funds team will work with you to develop your idea and guide you through the investment process.
  • If applicable, apply for Pathfinder investment to develop your plans – we can make these smaller awards easily.
  • For larger investment, you will need to present your business plan to the Seed Funds team, who will then assess it to decide if to progress your application to the Cambridge Enterprise Investment Committee.
  • If successful, you will present your idea to our Investment Committee.

Once you have Investment Committee approval, we will put in place the necessary legal agreements to complete the investment.