The Creative Destruction Lab is coming to Oxford.

Image credit: Creative Destruction Lab

Creative Destruction Lab startup programme comes to Oxford

UK and European science-based founders will soon benefit from a proven innovative programme that helps commercialise their ideas and scale their businesses. CDL-Oxford will be delivered by the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, beginning in September 2019. 

Established in 2012 by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a seed-stage programme for massively scalable science and technology-based ventures. 

The programme matches participating companies with a carefully selected group of mentors including accomplished entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and business professors. The nine-month mentorship programme includes five full-day on-site sessions focused on objective setting. This approach has proved to be highly successful: to date CDL has helped to nurture startups worth over £2 billion in equity value.

Currently CDL operates at five universities across Canada and at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Now, Saïd Business School is partnering with the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto to deliver CDL in Europe for the first time. 

Applications for CDL-Oxford will open in April 2019 for startups in the UK and beyond. In the first year, the programme will focus on companies applying artificial intelligence to create new products and services. The primary sessions will be based in Oxford, culminating in a 'super session' which brings to Toronto the most promising ventures from across all CDL sites.

The initiative in Oxford is being led by Professor Thomas Hellmann, DP World Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, together with a team of high-calibre founding partners. The first three to be announced for CDL-Oxford are:

  • Patrick Pichette, former Google CFO who is now active with CDL in Montreal as a general partner at the Canadian and UK-based venture capital firm Inovia Capital. He is the incoming chairman of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI).
  • Peter Davies, senior partner at Lansdowne Partners and current chairman of OSI.
  • John McCall MacBain, an international entrepreneur, philanthropist and second century founder of the Rhodes Trust.

‘First-time founders of science-based companies have deep technical knowledge but often lack the business judgement that only comes from years of experience,’ said CDL founder Professor Ajay Agrawal from the University of Toronto. ‘CDL gives business founders and MBA students an opportunity to engage with highly successful entrepreneurs and scientists and learn from their judgement.’

Professor Peter Tufano, Dean of Saïd Business School, said: ‘With CDL we are taking the next step to support world-class scientific research and innovation across the UK and Europe. This programme helps business and technical founders overcome the challenges of developing early-stage ventures into large-scale profitable organisations, by providing outstanding guidance on mission-critical aspects such as developing a commercial strategy, hiring the right people, and securing funding.’

The UK's Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said: ‘The opportunities of artificial intelligence are endless, and current innovations are already having a profound effect on our lives – from having a personal assistant on your mobile phone to websites suggesting new films you’d be interested in. In our modern industrial strategy, we have recognised the value AI can add to our economy, creating the high-skilled jobs of the future and boosting our productivity in every part of the UK. This innovative hub – the first in Europe – will help our startups get the support they need to take their ideas to market and scale up their businesses.’

Minister for Digital Margot James added: ‘The UK has a consistent track record of producing successful tech companies and is home to leading pioneers in artificial intelligence. It's great to see the Creative Destruction Lab recognise our global standing and choose Oxford as their European hub to nurture the next generation of tech startups. Thanks to our unique combination of talent, location, business-friendly environment, world-leading universities, record levels of investment and modern industrial strategy, the UK is one of the best places in the world to start and grow a digital business.’