Venture Science Doctorate

Reinventing the PhD, to put venture at the heart of research. Applications for the 2024 are now closed. Register your interest in the 2025 cohort by submitting an early application.

Immerse yourself into the background of the Venture Science Doctorate. Watch our Mini Documentary here!

In health, climate, agriculture and computation, today’s challenges require speed, scale and skills like never before. PhD programs shape the deeptech workforce that solve humanity’s problems, but they’re not optimised for these challenges; they don’t attract driven, commercially-minded visionaries or under-represented groups.

The Venture Science Doctorate (VSD) is an alternative. Join a 3-year, fully-funded, sector-agnostic PhD program, running our proven innovation model. It’s provided by Deep Science Ventures College at Woolf, a Global Higher Education Institution. Within ten years we will have scaled to train 1,000 science entrepreneurs per year.

VSD candidates directly target the most important questions in their sector, learning to design their own research projects from first-principles and launching companies based on this research, to deliver impact, not just knowledge. On top of this, they meet and work with some of the world’s most forward-thinking supervisors, in an entrepreneurial environment made up of like-minded peers, partners, and investors.

Hone intellectual freedom, grow entrepreneurial networks and create ventures to solve the world’s hardest problems.

Thank you!

Prospectus Download

To download the Venture Science Doctorate prospectus, please complete the form below.

Application

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Tackling the world’s hardest problems requires a new type of talent

Solutions to the world’s greatest problems are going to come from scientific research and science commercialisation, created by hyper-mobile venture scientists, who are capable of simultaneously navigating both worlds.

To make the most of this opportunity, we need to solve the bottleneck of science talent. The UK alone requires an additional 150,000 researchers by 2030. To accelerate discovery and tackle these challenges, the UK needs to:

  • Build a healthy science, tech and entrepreneurial talent pipeline;

  • Improve research career satisfaction to drive high retention;

  • Drive cultural change on campus;

  • Embed research in the venture-creation ecosystem; 

  • Diversify our scientific and creative understanding of technology.

A program for commercially-minded, scientific visionaries

The Venture Science Doctorate (VSD) is a 3-year, fully-funded, sector-agnostic PhD program, running using the same proven innovation model that underpins Deep Science Ventures itself. The PhD is provided by Deep Science Ventures College at Woolf, a Global Higher Education Institution. The program is truly inclusive, we believe in the strength of
diversity and want to source and attract people into the worlds of research and venture-creation that would not otherwise do so.

The aim of year 1 is for candidates to familiarize themselves with a given industry, mapping the landscape, to identify areas of opportunity for high-impact venture creation. In a process we call Scoping, candidates will identify the optimal solution to a given problem and, alongside accredited courses such as experimental design, perform lab work to develop their hypotheses and contact partner research groups for further experimentation.

Year 2 is focused on invention, and further developing the initial hypotheses, working within leading research groups to prove the technology against the original hypothesis and validate it through technoeconomic analysis.

The goal for year 3 is venture creation, building further on the research from the previous two years, to develop a scalable technology, capable of  product market fit. If necessary, candidates may join multiple different research groups to do this. Having validated the technology, candidates will work with experienced venture partners to build a complementary team and a rock-solid investment case, before engaging with some of the 400+ investors that DSV co-invests alongside. 

Upon graduating, all the intellectual property is transferred into the new venture, which the candidate continues to lead as a cofounder. For more details on the program, please download the prospectus using the submission form above.

Global Partners & Leading Collaborators

We’ve partnered with leading institutions, who are supporting across research and venture creation. Collaborating institutions include the National Physical Laboratory, the James Hutton Institute, Imperial College, the University of Edinburgh, University College London, Goldsmiths, University of London, Cornell University and the Mayo Clinic.

If you would like to join us as a Partner, please contact us using this form.

Our entrepreneurial ecosystem
Candidates

Even a global pandemic can be dissected and solved with a concerted research effort. Today, too few people are prepared to apply scientific research, build technological solutions and scale through regulatory environments. These are the Venture Scientists we all need, and we can all become through deep tech entrepreneurship. Systematically envision where we must be in Climate or Health in the next 5 years and bring that future forward. 

Supervisors

High impact ventures need strong scientific and commercial mentors. The world’s most entrepreneurial Research Supervisors are gathering around Venture Scientists to shoulder the uncertainty of inventing in the “adjacent possible” and see technologies born in their labs tackle Climate, Health and Food Security crises. Founding Supervisors, from DSV,  are co-mentoring Venture Scientists to provide commercial guidance on their critical path to market.

Research Partners

From individual laboratories to universities to national research assets
These research communities are forming bolder collaborations to bring the world answers the most important questions in their fields. Decentralised research programs will enable pioneering research at the interfaces between disciplines, this means reconfiguring partnerships as technologies emerge.

Industry partners

Your industry is evolving and the companies that lead this change will benefit the most. Join us to access a sustainable talent pipeline of future leaders for your research teams, who can anticipate disruptive trends. Exchange insights with field-leading researchers and policy makers to see the next generation of innovators transform insights into impact.

Funding Partners

We face unprecedented challenges in Health, Climate, Education Equity, Building Novel Innovation Models and Technological Leadership. VSD is the first PhD program to tackle all five of these major concerns for impact-centric funders. With our systematic, multi-year approach candidates become expert solvers of critical challenges. Thousands of Venture Scientists will inspire millions more by creating sector-scale impact, thanks to our long-term partners.

Advisors

Promoting STEM diversity through deep tech with government, industry and academic stakeholders is complex. Leaders of transformational change at the highest levels of their sector are strategically guiding and publicly championing VSD to do the same. From Learning Experience Design to High Performance Culture to Shaping Corporate Strategy across hundreds of science companies - we host crucial dialogues with perceptive and humble luminaries.

Our founding partners

Testimonials

Thomas Kalil

Chief Innovation Officer, Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that bets early on exceptional people making the world better.

Very few  graduate students secure tenure track jobs. I believe strongly that research universities need to do a better job of preparing graduates for broader career opportunities. This is particularly important because the world has problems, research universities have departments, and there is often an imperfect mapping between the two. Solutions to our global challenges often require combinatorial innovation - it’s what The Venture Science Doctorate trains, and why young scientists at many universities could benefit from this program.

Lina Arbeláez

Anglo American

A global company leading the transition to carbon neutral mining and attacking emissions at scope 1, 2 and 3 for the commodities they produce, Anglo are decarbonizing supply chains across the world. Decarbonization must scale dramatically in the next 10 years to meet international climate targets needs

At Anglo American, we are committed to creating, accelerating and investing in climate positive startups as part of our purpose to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives. In this we are looking not only at how we decarbonise our own operations, but also at how we can reduce the Scope 3 emissions of our broader value chain. Having previously supported climate tech ventures like Mission Zero and Supercritical, we look forward to the innovation breakthroughs that the Venture Science Doctorate seeks to crystalise for a low carbon future.

Joshua Broggi

Woolf University

Higher education is transforming as demand drowns supply. The demand for higher education is an estimated +25k students per day over the next decade. Woolf University is the first collegiate university that allows organizations to join as Member Colleges

VSD will be the first PhD program to make venture creation and inclusivity its dual-mission. We're proud to co-create a career path for "Venture Scientists" shifting the definition of "scientist" to include people eager to build the market-ready technologies the world needs. VSD is mission-aligned with Woolf as we seek to increase access to high quality research and job creation while responsibly scaling access to higher education.

Prof. Rafael Carazo Salas

University of Bristol and Founder of CellVoyant

Professor and Chair of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bristol and a Turing Institute Fellow. Trained in physics, mathematics and cell biology, he’s worked with Sir Paul Nurse in London and the Rockefeller University in New York, held PI positions at ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge and founded CellVoyant an AI-first biotechnology company creating novel stem cell-based therapies for chronic diseases.

Academic science is the only discipline which still trains students to populate its most improbable and potentially least useful outcome. Law departments train students to populate law firms all across the globe, not university departments. Engineering departments populate engineering firms or companies or industries of all types, not university departments. Academic science needs a 180 degree revamp and I think the VSD gets us there!

Sam Arbesman

Silicon Flatirons Centre, University of Colorado Boulder

Propelling the future of law, policy and entrepreneurship in the digital age. Through initiatives, events publications and student programs they catalyze critical conversations and train the next generation of leaders.

While many researchers eventually move into the startup world, the Venture Science Doctorate intentionally trains for startup from the very start. It does this holistically, teaching research within the context of a venture—and even how to articulate the broader vision of your work. I think the Venture Science Doctorate is an incredibly exciting experiment and has the potential to unleash a whole new group of venture scientists into the world.

Phil De Luna

Sustainability Expert at McKinsey & Co, Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto

Formerly the youngest-ever Director at the National Research Council of Canada where he built and led a $57M collaborative research program on Canada-made net zero technologies. Phil is currently a sustainability expert at McKinsey & Co. On television and online, he is a public champion of Climate Resilience, dedicated to finding, co-funding and developing the most impactful technologies to decarbonize our economy.

In today’s publish-or-perish incentive structure, training gets overlooked, especially training in venture building or industrial research. Many of the world’s most challenging problems require scientific solutions, which we are not training scientists to take forward. The Venture Science Doctorate takes an agile and comprehensive approach - connected to streamlined multinational research programs, for more technological solutions, not just citations.

Priya Guha, MBE

Venture Partner, Merian Ventures

At Merian Ventures, Priya supports investment in women-led innovation. A champion of US and UK venture creation, Priya advises startups in both ecosystems. She is a Non-executive Director at Digital Catapult UK and has held many roles in diplomacy, most recently as British Consul General to San Francisco and previously in India and Spain. She is on the Althea Foundation Board, Global Tech Advocates Advisory Board and the Royal Academy of Engineering International Committee.

“The Venture Science Doctorate is a great initiative to support different types of PhDs, which will equip students with the skills and funding to commercialise and scale their research whilst pursuing their academic studies. Society needs this.’’

Application

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

This is a full-time program, where candidates for VSD should be impact-driven, want to launch a science company using advanced research and be determined to do this in just a few years. They’ll also need natural curiosity and an undergraduate degree related to science, innovation or design-thinking, or professional research experience.

Our application process has three steps. Step 1, complete our online application form.
Step 2, use our scoping ontology to analyse a deeptech sector and systematically describe your approach portfolio. Step 3, join us at interview. 

Deep Science Ventures will cover the tuition and all other expenses related to programme curriculum and research activities. Additionally, each student will receive a monthly stipend of £2,500 and an annual contribution for health insurance to subsidise living costs, so that socioeconomic status is not a barrier to building high-impact science companies.

In Year One, candidates will spend time together in a series of in-person community building events and meet their mentors from Deep Science Ventures, these events will continue in Years Two and Three.

After Year One, candidates will be matched with the world’s most entrepreneurial professors in the UK, US and EU joining those labs best placed to support their emerging technology.

At Deep Science Ventures we tackle sector-scale questions in driven teams and mutually reinforcing coalitions - you’ll learn how to build both. This means you will meet venture capitalists, industrial research leaders, from the likes of Anglo American, Equinor and GSK, DeepTech founders, from DSV’s portfolio companies, national science agencies, national research assets, impact-centric charities, startup students and many more.

The leadership team behind the VSD is comprised of Dominic Falcao, Dr Thane Campbell and Dr Claire Thorne.

Dom is a cofounder of Deep Science Ventures, a venture creator, combining available scientific knowledge and founder-type scientists into high-impact ventures. A Schmidt Innovation Fellow, Dom built Imperial College’s accelerator from zero, working with over 1500 founders and 200 companies.

Thane designed the VSD and onboarded our corporate and academic research partners. His PhD in Immunology and AI was completed with GlaxoSmithKline. Thane built diversity-first founder training programs for Edinburgh's City Region Deal and rapidly established Scotland’s first venture builder, DSV FAST. Thane works with government agencies, leading universities and industry stakeholders on VSD, supported by Schmidt Futures.

Claire is Co-Ceo of Tech She Can, a diversity-first charity raising girls' awareness of the breadth of digital careers open to them. Claire previously headed up Innovation at the University of Surrey, and before that worked in the office of the VP for Innovation at Imperial College, where among many other things she was instrumental in developing Imperial’s renowned “White City” innovation district. Claire also has a PhD in dark matter physics.

Our second cohort will start in September 2024. Applications are open and close soon. Join us.

There are a number of ways to join our entrepreneurial ecosystem and support our first Venture Scientists (see our entrepreneurial ecosystem above). Please complete this form to register your interest and let us know how you want to participate - we will be in contact.

At the end of the programme, you will graduate with a PhD. At spin-out, if all goes well, you will be part of the co-founding team of a venture, based on the intellectual property (IP) developed as part of your PhD.

Deep Science Ventures will organise a rapid pre-seed round at the end of the programme at a fixed valuation, giving funders and DSV the opportunity to invest in candidate companies.

On a not-for-profit basis, Deep Science Ventures will retain an equity stake of 10% in any investible company formed on the basis of research conducted as part of the VSD - this will be in fully dilutable ordinary shares and any proceeds will be used expressly to fund future Venture Science Doctoral training. The dream is to be able to fund future PhD training on the basis of the success of past PhDs.

Deep Science Ventures will temporarily hold ownership of any arising, foreground IP generated by VSD candidates during the programme and will assign ownership of this either to the incorporated company, or if no investable company is formed, to the candidate.

About Deep Science Ventures

Deep Science Ventures (DSV) is creating a future where humanity and the planet thrive, combining available scientific knowledge and founder-type scientists into high-impact ventures. Deep Science Ventures operates in 4 sectors: Agriculture, Climate, Computation and Pharmaceuticals, tackling the challenges defining those areas by taking a first-principles approach and partnering with leading institutions.