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Venture Prize FAQs

The Armourers & Brasiers Materials Science Venture Prize is given as an equity investment of £25,000 into a start-up technology based in the UK in the area of Materials Science technology.

  1. What is the purpose of the Venture Prize?

The Venture Prize is offered to support the commercialisation process of a Materials Science product or technology.  It is not research grant funding.

  1. How can the Venture Prize can be used?

It can be used at a very early stage of commercialisation.  Examples might include formation of a company, creating a prototype to showcase proof of concept, undertaking market research, or other similar essential stages of the start-up phase. The prize can also be used alongside other funds to drive forward the commercialisation process.

You will be asked to explain in your submission the intended application of the funding as part of a strategic commercialisation plan.

  1. Why is the Venture Prize given as an equity investment?

In our experience, equity finance of this kind is invaluable to start up projects seeking to attract additional investment finance.  The Venture Prize has enabled several of our projects to attract matching funding immediately from their host institutions, with the total then attracting further matching funding from external development agencies.  When projects then seek further private investment, they have the credibility of private funding already committed.  The Armourers & Brasiers’ Company as a shareholder committed to the new venture will have an interest in helping make it a success. When deciding whether to apply you may wish to consider your current & future investment needs.

  1. How does the equity investment work?

The Armourers & Brasiers’ equity allocation will not normally be on terms less favourable to those offered to other external funders making their investments in the same funding round.

The exact process and the amount of equity attached to the investment varies depending on the stage the project has reached at the time the funds are given – see below.

  1. When does the discussion about valuation and equity take place?

The discussion about equity is undertaken separately from the competition process as the competition is about identifying the project which, in the view of the Venture Prize Committee, has the greatest potential for successful translation to market.  The Committee’s assessment of commercial potential is based on the quality of the science and the evidence of market need.

If you are shortlisted for interview it is possible that during the interview some of the committee members will explore with you your views on the current value of your enterprise.  We are very keen at that stage to make sure that applicants understand that the Venture Prize is not just more research funding, so we need to be confident that the project team has commercial acumen.   

If you were awarded the prize, there would be a further discussion about the amount of equity to be given to the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company. This would be agreed through discussion with you and would take into account any other interest or investment you have received.  Sometimes Venture Prize winners prefer to receive the funds as part of the first external funding round.

  1. What if a Company has not yet been formed to commercialise the project?

The prize must be awarded into a registered entity, ie a company, but it can be given as a convertible loan. The experienced Materials Science entrepreneurs on the Venture Prize Committee know how important it is for a start-up enterprise to have access to seed corn finance to support critical first steps.  Sometimes the first action of the winning project is to form a company in order to receive the prize funds. 

The loan might then be converted to equity at the first external investment round. 

  1. What other benefits does the Venture Prize offer?

We have found with previous winners that the publicity around being awarded our prize has often been helpful in unlocking additional investment. 

As part of the prize we employ a PR Consultant to work with the winner to achieve maximum publicity in relevant media around the time of the announcement which can also generate market or investor interest.

Venture Prize winners have access to the Venture Prize Committee as a panel of mentors experienced in seedcorn investment and research commercialisation.  The Committee hosts an annual review meeting where project teams have the opportunity to meet other winners and share the experience of entrepreneurship in Materials Science.

Where this can add value, a member of the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company may become more closely involved to act as a mentor/point of contact or as a director of the new company.

Final Thoughts

No two start-up projects are the same, therefore these FAQs reflect our experience of offering the Venture Prize since 2008.  Each year we seek to identify the entry which, in the view of the Committee, has the greatest chance of succeeding in the very competitive market of Materials Science research commercialisation.  We then strive to work with winner to achieve the best outcome for the project.