Venture Weekends - Unlocking and Supporting New Venture Ideas at Cranfield

We have major assets at Cranfield – smart people, great technologies, lots of ideas. Many of these ideas can be used to create value for society and the economy, for example by licensing technologies or by starting ventures. The purpose of the series of Venture Weekends is to provide concentrated time on getting to learn about ideas from right across the campus, build interim teams and thrash out ideas so that we can help you find viable business opportunities.

They are high energy weekends where you can develop your idea in a “safe space”; learn new skills and practice how to pitch for support and investment.

The weekend is open to all staff, students and researchers across Cranfield. It is also open to start-ups from outside Cranfield, specifically technology based business ideas.

We have two types of Venture Weekends:

  • Start-up Weekends where you can develop your idea in a safe "space"
  • Venture Challenges where you compete with other teams to develop a solution to a challenge set by a charity or company.

At the end of the weekend you will present your ideas in teams to a panel. This panel will include high quality, experienced mentors who can provide you with feedback on your idea and presentation.

If your idea and team look viable we will provide you with further support including mentoring, investment, advice (legal and financial) and other routes to markets etc.

What will it cost you?

Time and commitment is your only cost.

We run around two Start-up Weekends a year. 

Planned weekends for 2019

April 2019

4th - 6th 

Open to all cohorts


Weekends start on 4pm Thursday for the introductions, ice breakers, rules of engagement and informal exploration of ideas until late. Fridays start at 9am until late, and Saturdays end at 4pm. For an outline programme please see the Programme tab.

  • Do you want to learn about how you can take your ideas and turn them into a business opportunity?
  • Do you have an idea that is based on your research that you think can be turned into a new venture or licensed to industry?
  • Have you noticed a day to day problem you can solve and turn into a business?

If you are a researcher, member of staff or student you may like the opportunity to test your ideas with people from industry, entrepreneurs and investors to see how, if at all, your ideas could become a business.

Start-Up weekend

The weekends will be run by a combination of academics and practitioners in a very practical way, with short talks on key issues, such as how to determine markets, build teams, understand key numbers and how to manage your Intellectual property. You will mainly work in small groups with the assistance and support of highly experienced mentors. These mentors will help you to get underneath your business idea and your belief in taking your ideas forward.

Senior mentors who have agreed to speak, mentor and support at previous Start-Up weekends include:

Jon Thornes – Founder of Cool Milk. Business Angel investor
Phil O’Donovan – Founder of Cambridge Silicon Radio (Bluetooth) and Business Angel
Richard Leaver – Boundary Capital – serial entrepreneur and venture capital
Steve Joliffe – Founder of TopGolf – which has flipped the business model of golf ranges

What have been the outcomes of past Start-Up weekends

We have previously run four Start-Up weekends and seen some 50 people through past weekends. As a result of these successful weekends, we have had around 15 presentations to real investors and eight business ideas get underway. Others will start in their own time.

Here are two examples of very early stage businesses both raising money at present. One is based on a doctoral student and the other is from MBA students. 


We have also supported a “non-Cranfield” business due to the fact there is a complete technology which now needs scaling up. We are also helping this business raise money and currently providing connections.

What is the expected outcome?

If your idea and/or your team look viable we will provide you with further support through mentoring, advice (legal and financial) and other routes to markets etc. You will also be eligible (as a student of Cranfield) to apply for pre-seed funding to take your idea forward. The funding is made available to UK registered business where all the founders have completed their studies and have no debts with the University. The founders will also need to have the appropriate visa to carry on with their business if they are not a UK National. By the end of the weekend, you will have presented your ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs and industry that will provide you with feedback on the idea and on your presentation.