Imperial College London has created a Founders’ Pledge programme to invite alumni entrepreneurs to pledge to give back to students when they achieve success.
The pay-it-forward scheme is intended to give entrepreneurs a way to thank the College for its support by enabling students at the start of their business career.
Many universities in the USA operate a Founders’ Pledge programme, but Imperial is the first UK university to launch one.
Imperial students and alumni have a very good track record of generating investment. Imperial startups generated £134 million of investment in 2021-21, with £91 million of that raised by students alone.
Successful Imperial alumni include Peter Lipka who created the virtual reality company Improbable which is valued at $1 billion, and Alex Dalyac, whose AI company Tractable is valued at $1 billion.
The idea of the pledge is to create a lasting source of income for current and future entrepreneurial students.
Imperial already has an advanced network of support for student entrepreneurs. Its Enterprise Lab provided nearly £200,000 of funding as grants to student startup businesses last year. Its Advanced Hackspace gives students access to specialist manufacturing equipment, as well as training, to help them develop prototypes.
It also offers the incentive of acknowledging that Imperial students own any intellectual property that they generate during their studies at the College.
Making the pledge
The Founders’ Pledge can be made on graduation by any Imperial student that founds a business. It is non-binding. They can choose how their gifts will support the College.
“When you experience an exit or other liquidity event and are ready to make your gift”, states the College’s giving advice page. “Let us know and we’ll work with you to plan your gift ensuring it makes a difference to an area you’re passionate about.”