From Ideas to Social Enterprise


A guide to utilising university intellectual property for the benefit of society.

If you are a researcher working in higher education in the UK and have aspirations to deliver a positive societal or community benefit from this knowledge, then this guide will help you understand the issues and challenges of how to transform such research and ideas into a successful social venture.

The guide contains information, assessment tools, case studies and model documents which give practical assistance to the researcher who is considering starting up a social venture based upon university knowledge and resources.

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It was developed collaboratively by University College London (UCL), UnLtd, UCL Business PLC (UCLB) and STORM® Skills Training CIC based on their experiences of successfully utilising university knowledge and resources, including intellectual property for public benefit. It was made possible through the generous support of the Intellectual Property Office Fast Forward Competition.

About the authors


UnLtd is for social entrepreneurs. We are the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offer the largest such network in the world. UnLtd resources up to 1,000 individuals each year through our Awards programmes. We operate a unique model by investing directly in individuals and offering a complete package of support; our Awards include advice, networking, mentoring and practical support as well as funding from £500 to £15,000.

UnLtd is also committed to developing an ecosystem of support to make it easier for new social entrepreneurs to find the help they need. We actively help other agencies to develop social entrepreneur support services.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Harding and Harding, 2008) found that there were 1.7m people leading social organisations in the UK, 238,000 trying to start one, and that 35% of all early stage entrepreneurs were starting with social ventures. UnLtd is focused on UK social entrepreneurs. Our model has been replicated in four other countries with several more in the pipeline.

Find out more about the support we offer at

University College London

Founded in 1826, University College London (UCL) was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

They are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by their performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world.

UCL has nearly 25,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one-third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar.

Find out more about UCL at


UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL.

UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from the laboratory to market.

UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

Find out more about UCLB at


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