The Challenge Of University Venturing

In Mike Rees’ recent consultation to the National Centre for Universities and Business, Future Planet Capital outlined the two challenges facing all universities today:

Although university ventures have a lower failure rate, their initiatives can take longer to develop as they don’t have the same financial limitations as a traditional start-up. In some instances, the process from research to conceptualisation can take a decade. However, this means founders are constantly under pressure to ensure their product or service remains relevant and competitive.

Secondly, by solely focusing on the UK for investment, university ventures run the risk of a narrow pool of funding. It is crucial that they become connected to international markets as this will help them engage with international audiences and investors. An example of a successful UK-based venture that has developed an impressive global presence is PragmatIC, a world leader in ultra low cost flexible electronics. PragmatIC has successfully developed a product that is applicable and relevant to both national and international audiences.

Although each university may face its own individual challenges, it is important that universities think global from day one. A lot of the world’s international investors are viewing Britain as a great research hub and investment opportunity – we need to make sure that our universities, businesses and government’s place the same amount of confidence in our abilities.