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Eagle Labs and University College London (UCL) have launched Conception X, a ‘venture builder’ that creates investable, early-stage deep tech startups founded by the nation’s best and brightest PhD students.

The initiative will enable PhDs in UCL’s top-ranked Computer Science programme to transform their dissertation into a deep tech startup.

Barclays has provided funding to launch Conception X with the Faculty of Engineering at University College London (UCL), with future ambitions to expand across the country. The groundbreaking programme allows students to create deep tech start-ups whilst retaining all IP rights, participating in mentoring sessions with potential investors and future clients, and emerging as a fully-fledged entrepreneur. Teams from last year’s pilot created start-ups covering areas such as AI, quantum computing and blockchain with several securing seed funding and signing their first clients. Building on its Eagle Lab network and AI Frenzy events, UCL and Barclays have launched Conception X to continue its work enabling a diverse range of people and businesses to benefit from emerging technology – with three all-female teams in the launch cohort.

Over a nine-month period the teams will work on their business idea in a sustained effort to create a viable startup. They will benefit from quarterly goal-based mentoring sessions with not only seasoned entrepreneurs and academics, but also potential investors and future clients – helping to finesse their proposition and boost their chances of funding after graduation.

Teams can also partner with intrapreneurs within a corporate to apply deep tech to an issue they would like to solve. This provides another opportunity to connect with potential clients and sheds light on real problems from industry.

Aside from being significantly longer than a typical ‘incubator’ programme, Conception X is unique in that students retain all IP associated with their project.

Eagle Labs and UCL piloted Conception X with 14 teams last year, building a range of deep tech start-ups exploring areas such as AI, quantum computing, blockchain and augmented reality. All teams significantly developed their business idea with six emerging as fully-fledged start-ups.

Following the successful trial, Eagle Labs has provided funding to launch Conception X with UCL. The investment will also enable Conception X to scale to other leading universities across the UK over the next few years.

The Eagle Labs team will offer ongoing mentorship as well as access to funding and a network of potential investors and clients. Upon completion, Conception X teams can base their operations in any of the 22 Eagle Labs across the country.

We believe deep tech has the potential to transform communities, business and society, but only if talented individuals are given the opportunity to explore the art of the possible. This programme creates the perfect space for the best and brightest students to experiment in fields that will shape the future.


Original press release: read here.


About Barclays Eagle Labs
A platform to connect the UK’s entrepreneurial community

Eagle Labs are a growing national network of incubator spaces that provide business incubation, mentoring and co-working and office space for ambitious high-growth businesses as well as digital skills development and rapid prototyping through onsite digital fabrication equipment and Industry 4.0 expertise at many of our sites.
By cultivating a community of like minded entrepreneurs through a providing a collaborative work environment, access to their peers and opportunities to maximise growth through digital connections, curated events and funding opportunities, Eagle Labs are able to help startups to grow at pace.
Eagle Labs also specialises in positively disrupting key industries by bringing together key corporate players, industry bodies, leading universities and start-ps to enable rapid innovation and investment by asking them to collaborate and currently have dedicated LawTech, HealthTech and AgriTech industry-aligned programmes.
With 25 Eagle Labs across the country and more in the pipeline, their focus is to help to connect, educate and accelerate ambitious UK businesses and entrepreneurs.

About Conception X
Conception X is a venture builder that creates deep tech startups from the UK’s leading research labs and PhD programmes. The 9-month programme is designed to train current PhD candidates in technology entrepreneurship, supporting them in building ventures that leverage their proprietary research.

Turning universities into incubators, the programme runs in parallel to PhD degrees, thus de-risking exciting technologies which have enormous potential to change the world for the better. It empowers students to explore entrepreneurship as an impactful career choice and test their ideas for commercial applications in industry.

Conception X was launched at the UCL Faculty of Engineering in 2018 and with the support of Foundation partners, the programme is an independent non-profit, open to PhD students from all UK universities.

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