Start a company

Do you want to start a University spin-out?

Whether you’re actively seeking investment money or are just considering the formation of a University spin-out, Seed Funds, the business creation and funding division of Cambridge Enterprise, can help.

With over 20 years of experience in company creation, our team has the proven know-how to support students and academics through direct investment as they build teams and raise the financing they need to develop products from their research. We create partnerships and link entrepreneurs with sources of angel and VC investing, as well as a network of mentors and management.

The support we provide

Cambridge Enterprise supports those trying to start a company based directly on University research or people, investing up to £1 million in each University spin-out from investment funds we manage on the University’s behalf.

Significant follow-on funding is available through Cambridge Enterprise’s sister fund, Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC). CIC has strong ties with the University of Cambridge and works closely with Cambridge Enterprise on its investments. CIC may also invest at the seed stage as a precursor to further investment.

We can work with you to make your business plan stronger, we can connect you with industry mentors and management, and we can fund consultants and proof of market studies. Since 1995, we have invested in 62 companies. You can review our equity portfolio.

If you are developing a business idea, use these slides to structure your thoughts into a business plan.

From our current network, Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds can help you find the best mentors, team members, service providers, co-investors and follow-on investors. This early stage capital and support is pivotal to the success of new companies in what is often seen as a high-risk section of the investment spectrum.

As an evergreen fund, Seed Funds can take a long-term view. All of the money gained from investment realisations is returned to Seed Funds to support the development of future companies.

We also work with our more than 75 portfolio companies to help them secure additional funding, linking them with sources of angel and VC investment, such as our £120 million ‘sister’ fund, and our Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners programme (CEVP), which brings together investors and fledgling companies.

Since seed funding began in 1995, our portfolio companies have raised more than £1.6 billion in further investment and grant funding. These companies now employ over 1,000 people and are developing solutions in many areas including healthcare, clean energy and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The investment we offer

We invest the University seed funds in new companies started by staff and students to enable the commercial development of University research. As such, we offer a range of investment to help develop new ventures. Among them are:

  • Pathfinder investment, up to £20,000 to help carry out market and intellectual property assessments and business strategies.
  • Software Pathfinder investment, up to £20,000 for prototype development, field testing and customer pilots.
  • Fast 50, a Cambridge Enterprise initiative that offers up to £50,000 for work on time-sensitive projects and critical experiments that need investment delivered quickly.
  • Seed investment, up to £500,000 in the initial round, 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 the 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, which will make an assessment about whether to progress your application to the Cambridge Enterprise Investment Committee.
  • If successful, you will present your idea to our Investment Committee.

With Investment Committee approval we will put in place the necessary legal agreements to complete the investment.

You can download our Starting a Company leaflet as a PDF here.

Image: Dr Darrin M. Disley, Horizon Discovery Group Plc CEO and President, centre, celebrates at the London Stock Exchange.