Google’s former CFO, Patrick Pichette, has revealed he plans to coach British university spinout companies to help them achieve success.
Speaking at the launch of a new startup accelerator in Oxford, the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), he said universities had begun to see the potential that their researchers could generate the next wave of tech superstars.
CDL co-founder Pichette, who worked at Google until 2015, said it was crucial that universities wake up to the need for them to support academic researchers that have “a real shot at commercialisation”.
In his opinion, the American model has “proven you can walk and chew gum at the same time”.
He said: “If you go to Stanford University and you’re a professor, everybody will look at you strangely if you don’t have a startup or two.”
It is key for British universities to act to implement changes that could make it easier to generate companies while still working within academia, he said. However, he questioned how quickly they could make this shift.
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25 companies from across Europe and the UK are set to become the CDL’s first cohort, which will be welcomed this September.
Once operational, CDL-Oxford will become the seventh location in the CDL’s network and the first European incubator at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. It already operates at five universities across Canada, and at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
The seed-stage accelerator offers a nine-month programme to science- and tech-focused spinouts, which provides them with support from a diverse array of experts, including scientists and investors.
It also involves MBA students, providing the startups with management expertise and students with real-life business problems to solve. To date, CDL has helped to nurture start-ups worth more than £2 billion in equity value.
Pichette said CDL would provide a “platform for the best university research programmes to have a venue in which they can have two types of supports”.
One type would be if “you were a researcher that has a great business idea, you will have the support of MBE classes at the Saïd Business School to support you in your research and how to commercialise it. And, secondly, you would also have support from operators, business builders and venture capitalists, to give you real advice and real access to capital in order to actually launch your business.”