Innovative Impulse Programme secures over £50m in new funding

Education | Employment & Skills | Funding | South East | Technology
Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero Nu Quantum
Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero Nu Quantum

A Cambridge University programme has produced a fleet of the UK’s ‘next generation’ entrepreneurs and world-class innovators – attracting £53,561,000 of funding and investments over the last four years for the alumni’s life-changing projects.

Notable alumni completing the programme have included:

  • Dr Steve Brierley, Founder/CEO of technology sensation, Riverlane – which is making landmark developments maximising the power and reach of Quantum Computing.
  • Dr Carmen Palacios Berraquero, national award-winning physicist and Co-inventor of Nu Quantum technology, which is making ground-breaking single-photon components to enable the next generation of commercially-viable photonic quantum technologies – creating a new era of communications, simulation, computing, sensing and metrology.
  • Dr Richard Taylor, CTO of Vector Photonics – The company’s technology is the first breakthrough in semiconductor laser manufacturing in 30 years, enabling new applications in datacoms; 3D metal and plastic printing; LiDAR; and optical sensing – some of the fastest growing technology markets in the world.
  • Dr Gita Khalili Moghaddam, pioneering medtech entrepreneur and Founder/Director of GlycoVue – which combines glucose-responsive smart polymers with advanced holography and AI-enabled smartphone technology for diabetes self-management.
  • Dr Mario De Miguel Ramos, CEO & Co-Founder of Sorex Sensors – whose novel sensor technology to accurately monitor indoor air quality is tipped for global domination of a market expected to swell to $323billion by 2024.
  • Dr Shakiba Kaveh & Dr Cristiana Banila, co-founders of Mitra Bio Ltd, a skin longevity company from London, building a non-invasive skin multi-omics platform to unravel skin health and delay ageing.
  • Dr Rob Simpson, CTO, and Christian Saville, COO, of trailblazing medtech firm, Celsius Health, a spinout from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which is focused on the development of high accuracy thermal imaging technology in medical diagnostic applications – transforming the health and quality of life of diabetic patients.

Since 2017, the innovative Impulse Programme – which accelerates new technologies within the fields of Biotechnology, MedTech, AI, Quantum Technologies and Water Technology – has created over 250 jobs and seen £45,563,000 invested by business angels and venture capitalists into alumni projects, with a further £7,998,000 secured from grant funding mostly Innovate UK grants.

The success of the Impulse Programme relies heavily on the calibre of its mentors and experienced entrepreneurs who are all exceptional role models from within the celebrated Cambridge ecosystem, and include such luminaries as Dr Hermann Hauser, Dr David Cleevely, Jamie Urquhart, Prof Sir Mark Welland, Dr Julie Barnes, Richard Green, Dr Deborah Harland, Prof Chris Lowe and Dr Phil O’Donovan.

In a recent poll of alumni from the last four years, 80% of those who took part said that the mentors were the most useful connections and relationships they had made during the programme – with 70% revealing that they have remained in touch with their mentor since leaving the programme.

Riverlane recently secured a further £15m of Series A funding at the start of this year.  Founder & CEO, Dr Steve Brierley said he benefited greatly from having someone of the stature of Jamie Urquhart – co-founder of technology company, Arm – as his Impulse Programme mentor.

Dr Brierley said: “Having Jamie Urquhart as a mentor in the early stages of Riverlane had a huge impact. I knew a lot about the technology (quantum computing) and wanted to work out how to build a great business to exploit that. I spent many hours meeting with Jamie testing ideas, talking through business models, funding options and then figuring out how best to communicate the opportunity. As a result, Riverlane got off to a great start, raising a seed round from two great VC funds. Jamie is very generous with his time and, since the Impulse programme, we’ve kept in touch and he’s still one of the first people I’ll test a new idea on.

“My advice to anyone thinking about joining Impulse is simple: If you get the chance to work on your company idea with someone like Jamie who has a vast amount of experience rolling their sleeves up and making it happen, take it!”

Prof Sir Mark Welland – the former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government Ministry of Defence – is Director of Cambridge University’s Maxwell Centre, where the Impulse Programme is run.

He says: “The Impulse Programme at the Maxwell Centre provides researchers and scientists with the ideal environment for those all-important chance encounters, sparking and inspiring fresh generations of science and technology entrepreneurs as has clearly been evidenced.

“It is here that the cross-pollination of ideas, technologies and industry knowledge of like-minded individuals, from both entrepreneur and business worlds, enables the participants to reach their full potential and, importantly, transform their research into a viable business.”

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