Imperial Business Partners

Imperial Business Partners is a gateway to the forefront of science and technology. Working with us, businesses secure competitive advantage by working with world-leading experts in a broad range of areas and getting closer to promising talent, emerging innovation, start-ups, scale-ups, and other businesses that are part of our innovation ecosystem. 

We offer dedicated support for businesses that want to extract the maximum benefit from their interactions with Imperial. We deliver a portfolio of services that will support decision-making in your business and finds new solutions based on science and research. 

As part of our corporate membership network, you will have access to a range of specialist services and member events curated specially for you. Through tailored advice, training, technology showcase, and events, we’ll guide you through Imperial’s innovation landscape to find exactly what your business needs.  

This introduction to and overview of Imperial Business Partners will demonstrate how Imperial's academic excellence and entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem can enable your business to gain a deeper understanding of current and future trends, solve complex problems and gain an edge over your competitors. 

Master AI, answer customer questions, and gain an advantage

Artificial Intelligence has come to dominate discussions around new technology deployment. Three of Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2020 relate to AI or autonomy. AI technologies may revolutionise businesses as diverse as hospitality and financial services; a PwC report indicates that AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Alongside this potential, there is substantial intent – 20% of US executives were preparing to deploy AI enterprise-wide in 2019.  

Although AI technologies are already widely used within Financial Services, for robotic process automation, intelligent process automation (RPA & IPA) and others, there is a race to implement them safely and within existing guidelines. Machine-learning is used to make decisions about credit and lending. AI risk management and fraud prevention is also in operation. While 65% of senior financial services managers believe that there will be positive changes from AI, there are also widespread concerns.  

Are AI systems secure? Is it possible to create transparent and explainable AI systems? How do we make sure that AI systems are ethical? Can we build AIs that enable us to understand the decisions they make? These issues should concern us all.  

While advanced AI systems can now do things that previously required humans – and can even outperform human abilities – the principles or information they use to make decisions are often obscured from view. Imperial’s academics have spent many years researching AI and arriving at answers to some of the most complex questions related to its deployment. Beating the ‘black box’ is a prime concern. 

Can Imperial help you answer fundamental questions about AI? To learn more, download our AI e-book which contains a longer overview of research relevant to AI solutions, identifies some Imperial startups working in the area, and includes a number of in-depth articles covering the work of our academics in this field. 










Increasing threats, changing work patterns and new customer behaviours bring cyber security issues to the fore

The rapid – and rapidly accelerating – amount of data in the world requires us to do more than just become familiar with ever more extravagant unit prefixes (the digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes of data during 2020). Because this data and its transmission and analysis underpins new ways of working, new ways of understanding and new ways of interacting with customers, it is immensely powerful – and therefore valuable.  

Businesses have understood the value of data for years now, and recently new legislation such as the UK Data Protection act and GDPR has codified this understanding into law. As data has grown in importance, though, so have attempts to steal it. In early 2020, Sky News reported that the UK defence industry had experienced an unprecedented rise in cyber security breaches. The WHO made a similar report. In March, the National Crime Agency warned that groups may exploit COVID19 to target UK firms. A government survey looking back at 2019 showed that 46% of businesses and 26% of charities experienced a cyber security breach or attack, with a growing number (32% vs 22% in 2017) experiencing them at least once a week. It’s clear that your company’s data is a precious resource, and that attempts to steal or manipulate it will continue to grow. 

But it’s not all bad news. The past five years have seen greater board engagement with cyber security issues, and a growing understanding of the best way to confront and manage risks has emerged. 54% of businesses seek information and guidance on cyber security, 43% have staff whose role involves information security and governance, and 35% carry out cyber security risk assessments.  

Imperial College London may be in a good position to support businesses seeking expertise at the cutting edge of cyber security. With capabilities in privacy, risk and trust, resilient systems, statistical cyber security, breach detection, stable infrastructure networks, security in distributed systems and quantitative decisions and blockchain, it is recognised as one of the UK’s leading universities in cyber security research.  

Recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre as an Academic Centre of Excellence, Imperial’s cyber security community draws in academics from ComputingMathematics, the Institute for Security Science and Technology and the Centre for Cyptocurrency Research and Engineering.

To learn more, download our Cyber Security e-book which contains a longer overview of research relevant to cyber security solutions and includes a number of in-depth articles covering the work of our academics in this field. Also, watch world-expert Professor Deeph Channa’s briefing on the importance of business resilience in protecting your business from the rise in cyber crime and data breaches.



Decision-making for business leaders: under the spotlight

In much the same way that UK airports tend not to make infrastructure decisions based on the threat of snow, during 2020 an enormous number of businesses worldwide found themselves caught out after having failed to anticipate the impact of a global pandemic on their employees’ need to work from home.  This is not really a criticism: COVID19 is without precedent, certainly in the 21st century. Businesses are often in the position of needing to make critical decisions with incomplete information, and with hindsight may look foolish for failing to anticipate events. Though both snow and pandemics are known risks, taking extreme measures to mitigate them may have looked similarly foolish given their very low frequency.  

Beyond discovering an urgent need to switch to homeworking, business leaders have faced making a series of time-critical decisions with long-reaching implications during the COVID19 pandemic – and often with limited or obfuscated information. Companies with large customer-facing operations, such as banks and the insurance industry, have had to react rapidly to moving their organisation to cloud-based or otherwise distributed working situations. Businesses of all stripes have had to make decisions related to the enormously increased demand on digital infrastructure. It seems likely that the substantial shift towards digital-first customer experience provoked by COVID19 is here to stay – and there will be important decisions to make stemming from that. And these are just the decisions to be made within the relatively known and understood spheres of digital infrastructure and customer experience – add in innovative technologies like Blockchain and the branches of the decision tree for most companies multiply extensively. 

So how can business leaders win? 

At Imperial College Business School, Professor of Analytics and Operations, Wolfram Wiesemann, has been getting to grips with problems like this for some years. His group explores ways to apply quantitative methods to decision making even when information is absent or obscured. Because optimal decisions are hard to make when uncertainty is involved, the group’s work concentrates on designing ways to control and approximate information within strict margins. Wiesemann’s group is interdisciplinary and often works on problems inspired by real-world issues in operations management, energy systems and financial engineering. 

The pandemic has placed a spotlight on decision-making for business leaders. Download two free eWhite Papers on how machine learning, blockchain technology and quantitative methods can support businesses to make critical decisions about the future of their organisations. 

Dr Alex Ribeiro-Castro of the Imperial College Business School puts a spotlight on ‘the craft of automated decision making’, clarifying the terminology and techniques around Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and focusing on Machine Learning (ML) — providing a description of what ML is, what is driving its increasingly wide usage, advantages and risks of using ML, and the organisational capabilities required in order to utilise ML.

Dr. Ying-Ying Hsieh is an Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School. With an eye on the next twenty years and with a focus on organization theory and strategy, Ying-Ying’s research unpacks the coordination and governance mechanisms within blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).



Reimagining the Customer Experience: Developing customer support systems

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, there has been significant disruption to customer experiences both in and out of the home. New habits cemented themselves in society, from online teaching to virtual board meetings at work, disrupting many pre-conceived notions notions that such activities couldn’t or shouldn’t be considered). Such activities have led to the emergence of a new paradigm of customer experience and customer expectations.

According to Professor Rajesh Bhargave, at Imperial College London Business School, during times of disruption, we will start seeing the “unlocking of consumer experimentation”, meaning that it is time to test and innovate in new business models that help customers in their everyday life. The experimentation phase often results in new habits. What might be new habits that your users want to cement?

In a recent study by McKinsey, during this pandemic, ”77 percent of consumers said they appreciate FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] companies communicating how their brands can be helpful in daily life”. Organisations that truly consider customer needs, potential demands, and develop solutions to their everyday challenges have the opportunity to increase their impact. These companies can support customers in many ways, whether it is in the comfort of their own home or through a brick-and-mortar operation. We have listed four potential areas where your organisation could guide customers in this “new normal”.

Promoters of good
mental health

Consumer confidence has dropped globally. In North America, it is at a six-year low, due to the pandemic crisis and unemployment according to the Consumer Confidence Index in August 2020. Many customers are facing increasing uncertainty in their everyday lives. Beyond that, many now experience an creasing amount of our lives online, which comes with its own pitfalls, such as risks to mental ill-health connected to the increasing use of social media and other technology according to Dr. Nerja van Zalk and the evidence she gave to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, June 2020.


But what are the alternatives available as more of our activities are required to move online? FMCG organisations have the opportunity to create mental health support structures for their users, by creating experiences that promote ethical behaviour from financial to mental health.  Technology is great and has helped us stay together. But there are also unintended consequences that can lead to negative impacts on mental health. By working closely with behavioural scientists to conduct rigorous scientific testing we can ensure that our suggested initiatives have the desired effect.

 The Design Psychology Lab at Imperial College London can provide such a space. Their wo focuses on understanding psychological mechanisms that govern human behaviour, emotions, and decision-making processes related to designing products, services, and behavioural interventions that benefit mental health. Individuals remember and respond positively to the organisations that are supportive and help them in a time of need. 


Safety in the bricks-and-mortar experience

Physical retail experiences won’t disappear. But how can you create confidence in their use? As retail environments become no-touch, such as Boots, there is a need to create elevated experiences in these environments. As more people want to steer clear of any risk to their health, it will be critical to decrease the need for tching things in –shops or stores. Developing new behaviours and rituals by the use of design interventions could be key to create a safer space for spaces used by many.

 Dr. Weston Baxter has deep experience in developing rituals and behavioural interventions, such as developing a new hand-washing system for shared office spaces. In an interview on his novel hand-washing concept for Tanzania, he states: “It’s not usually enough to just teach people something, or give them new technology. You have to understand the psychology of behaviour. Behaviour-change theory is at the core of this design.”

 FMCG companies should see this as an opportunity to use their understanding of human behaviour to create better and more innovative ways to engage with their customers in a safe and enhanced manner, instilling consumer confidence. How might you be able to re-think spaces that enable successful interactions safely for the many?

 Augmenting the experience

As we grow bored with conventional online experiences, augmented and virtual reality will become key in creating enhanced customer engagement.  The MSk Lab is developing novel tools using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, and the aim is to integrate AR/VR into surgical procedures and medical training.

What can we learn from this in supporting customers’ new way? And even relieving tension and anxiety? In research carried out at Imperial College London, by the Design Psychology Lab they have found that using virtual reality headsets could combat increased sensitivity to pain, by immersing people in icescapes.

 In China, Livestream shopping is now worth an estimated $66 billion, according to CNN. Experts project that this will more than double over the year. The COVID-19 pandemic brought this from the fringes to the mainstream of retail. But could virtual and augmented reality experiences be next for companies to engage more deeply with their customers?

Tailored and supportive healthcare

Governments globally have focused their attention on preventative healthcare to tackle lifestyle diseases. However, there is an awareness that one-size doesn’t fit all.  A move away from ineffective diets is necessary. Metabolic profiling might be the answer. Academics at Imperial College London have worked to establish personalised diets by understanding how individuals react to food. These concepts offer insight into health that can support and elevate the relationship between FMCG provider and customer.

DNANudge, a startup from Imperial College London, is trialing new a similar concept but for supporting consumers in making the right choice in-store by connecting grocery products to their DNA profile.  What about guiding individuals on products that already exist? 

A crowdsourcing project between Imperial College London and Vodafone Dreamlab has used thousands of idle smartphones - such as when their owners are sleeping - has helped to uncover anti-cancer properties of everyday foods and medicines. The project, led by researchers at Imperial, uses artificial intelligence to crunch huge volumes of data on a ‘cloud computing’ network of smartphones while they charge overnight. This research can help guide and create confidence for customers in that they are making “the right choice”.

FMCG organisations have the potential to guide individuals in making better choices in and out of the store. What can we learn from this? The main point is to put humans at the centre of how we consider the future of our brands and organisations.

FMCG companies have the potential to support individuals in their personal goals by reimagining their brand touchpoints, growing customer confidence, and building a stronger relationship with the brand. At Imperial College London, many of our researchers focus on the human experience at the core. If you are interested in hearing more about the novel customer experiences and how you can build your own customer support system, please get in touch.




Circularity in focus: enhancing responsibility and experience

Circularity is not just for leading sustainable only brands; it is becoming increasingly crucial for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) providers to create responsible, transparent and inclusive practices addressing challenges affecting their products and experiences. Circular economy builds economic, natural and social capital by designing out waste, keeping products in use for longer and creating a regenerative mindset around resources across the supply chain. The shift to a circular mindset will spur on holistic changes that encompass consumption, production and economic models, underpinned with ambitious policies and governance.

A circular approach is more than just for sustainability, it saves the industry money through reduced cost of resources and energy, generating revenue from waste streams – like new uses for the byproducts from manufacturing processes - and retention of value in existing infrastructure and assets through new business models, such as leasing and sharing. According to a study by the Ellen McArthur Foundation, it is estimated that the European economy can save 600 billion Euros by 2025, if they adopt a more restorative and circular approach. By taking responsibility, organisations will not only make efficiencies in the long-term but also help to remain relevant for Gen Z consumers who are holding brands to a higher accountability.  Over half of Gen Z consumers consider how trustworthy a brand is before buying it. Imperial College London is researching and studying the zero-carbon transition across different industries to create a holistic perspective on circularity. 

Approaching the value chain as a system
In a story about the new Transition to Zero Pollution programme in research, education and innovation, Professor Mary Ryan states: "It's really about an entire system. Thinking about how to address pollution at source and understanding the impact of it in the whole life cycle. As engineers, we'd call that a systems method, but a doctor might equally refer to that approach as 'treating the whole patient'."

As the idea of a circular economy becomes increasingly mainstream, how can businesses stay relevant? One way is to use advanced modelling, artificial intelligence and new technological interventions to create changes across your supply chain. For FMCG providers working with food, using freshness sensors might help to both develop cost-efficiencies and reduce waste. In the UK, 60% of the £12.5 billion-worth of food which is safe to eat is thrown away. Smart sensors and shelving allow for dynamic pricing where different levels of freshness can lead to different prices and an interactive retail experience.

Computer vision can also help to make recycling cheaper by using AI-powered cameras to identify recyclable objects, enabling them to be automatically sorted at waste facilities, such as the Imperial student start-up Recycleye are exploring. Beyond that there are opportunities across the system, such as decarbonising the supply chains, finding more efficient and cleaner ways to transport goods as well as optimising products for resource scarcity, such as water and minerals. Most importantly it is to understand the complete value chain and where savings and circular approaches can be included.

Imperial College London is working across the complete value chain to identify ways to help the industry make cheaper and more circular choices. Dr Arturo Castillo recently published a study on plastic waste and argues that “a rethink of the whole value chain of the functions provided by plastic is essential, and that no single policy or technical solution will suffice.” It is essential to create a holistic perspective.

Resource retention
The initial design and manufacturing of a product hold a tremendous influence on material flows throughout the supply chain, determining whether materials end up as waste and pollution, or remain in the economy providing value. In the FMCG industry, there is often a mismatch between the short lifespan of the product and the long lifespan of the materials (plastic-based packaging). Think about how quickly you might eat a packet of crisps, but then how long that packaging will exist in landfill.

It will become increasingly important to identify better material choices and track your resources across the value chain for takeback schemes. Across their operations, FMCG companies should consider an extended responsibility for all manufacturers beyond the factory opening up for new perspectives, such as closer collaboration with users for the product to last longer, new models of ownership for products to promote sharing, and modular approaches to production.

At Imperial College London, we can help businesses re-think their approach to design and retention of resources from mapping the flow of resources across the value chain to waste prevention as well as understanding consumer perception of recycled materials. Currently, Anouk Zeeuw van der Laan is working with Procter & Gamble to develop a tool to help companies like Procter & Gamble to model the flow of their resources in a consumption system.  

Re-imagining waste for wealth
Just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, and only 9% is recycled – while a third is left in fragile ecosystems, and 40% ends up in landfill according to World Economic Forum. Addressing plastic waste is a key challenge for the FMCG industry, which has never been under more public scrutiny following Sir David Attenborough and the Blue Planet effect.

New recycling initiatives such as TerraCycle is becoming common practice for packaging from the FMCG industry. In this business, organisations collect the "non-recyclable" waste to turn it into new materials. Leading FMCG companies such as Unilever and P&G have already invested in this. Unilever has committed that 100% of its plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. How can R&D and scientific breakthroughs enable this?

Researchers at Imperial College London are addressing the problem of "unrecyclable" products by identifying new ways of upgrading them, such as blending with new material to make them reusable and useful. For example, researchers from the Future Materials Group have shown that by mixing post-consumer mixed waste (such as plastic lids) and using some additives, the original material can be used again in a different way, thus reducing the waste sent to landfill or incineration.

Not just plastic needs to be recovered. Others academics, such as Dr Euan Doidge is working on ways to recycle metals from our everyday device such as smartphones. He has identified new chemical processes that can turn electronic waste into gold mines – or at least mines for the new precious metals that have been obtained through ethically questionable practices. Waste might simply in the future become wealth, and understanding your recycling processes will be even more critical. 

Biobased materials that are sustainable from the start
As our climate reaches a tipping point, it is of increasing importance that we develop new materials that produce alternatives to those that we currently rely on. What if we explored and understood biological processes better to use these in the creation of new materials?

Advances in synthetic biology might be the way forward. Already it has been used to create engineered trees that grow fire-resistant timber and yeast that can produce biofuel. In a roadmap for the next decade, academics identified how the future might be in engineering organisms to produce durable, biodegradable materials (including plastics).

The FMCG industry has the potential to harness new materials for their packaging and products. At Imperial College London, start-ups, such as NotPla have created packaging that uses seaweed and algae instead of plastics. New biobased materials can help create a new industry powered by sustainability. We are all aware that we have reached the limits of consumption – even Ikea has acknowledged that some economies have already reached ‘peak stuff’. Envisioning processes that produce little or no waste, use innovative new materials and freight and manufacturing powered by renewable energy will be the smarter way forward.

This long-term view will create a sustained impact across cost-savings and more importantly the care for our planet.
Circularity is not about greenwashing, it is about re-imagining the approach at the core to create new ideas of future solutions and stay relevant for your customers. 


Evolving supply chains for fast-moving consumer goods

The packaged goods we use every day – from toothpaste, to tea, to tinned food – depend on complex global supply chains, which continually evolve to keep up with changing conditions and demand for better and more sustainable products. At Imperial College London, researchers are developing new ingredients, business models and techniques in product design, operations and logistics, to help companies create supply chains fit for the future.

Society needs supply chains that are more dynamic, smart, and capable of adapting to changing conditions in real time. AI, big data, robotics and the Internet of Things could help transform supply chains into supply brains.



How universities can help your business innovate now and for the future

Companies that invest in innovation produce greater returns in the medium and longer term than competitors that don’t – even in troubled times.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to think creatively in order to meet targets, reassess their space in the sector or reconsider their role in helping the world recover from the coronavirus crisis. Now more than ever, innovation is at the front and centre of business innovation strategy. 

It’s not only about intellectual capital. Innovation is an iterative process that takes different shapes in different businesses, but there is one common thread across industry sectors: the crucial role of collaboration.  

Partnerships bring cross-disciplinary fertilisation, new scenarios, new challenges2. In order to enable step-changes in competitive advantage, companies need to step up their game and bring new value and ideas to their innovative ecosystem. Universities are perfectly placed to enable them to make big decisions and support them through implementation. 

From finding new applications of established technology, utilising multi-disciplinary research to address major challenges, or engaging the curious minds of scientifically credible start-ups and entrepreneurs, the collaborative, inquisitive and innovative culture embodied by universities is exactly what businesses require, both now and in the future. ( 

In the video below Professor David Gann and Dr Ian MacKenzie discuss their research and how findings have enhanced IBM’s capability to foster radical, client-centric innovation, sharing knowledge across institutional boundaries and promoting mutual innovation opportunities.  


The full package: Staff, students and state-of-the-art facilities 

Not only are universities home to some of the best and brightest experts across a wide range of fields, from economic theory to translational medicine, and from manufacturing processes to environmental policy, the communities themselves are innovative and inquisitive by nature.  

They include academic leaders who know their research inside and out, but who have also been able to rethink an entire problem from start to finish to truly address the challenges.  

They are increasingly collaborative in their outlook, recognising that insights from colleagues who work across different subjects allow for a broader perspective and holistic approach to answering a question. 

They attract and support ambitious students, full of ideas, ready to disrupt an entire industry or challenge ‘the way it’s always been done’. 

And they provide access to state-of-the-art equipment, highly skilled technicians and professional support staff who can help manage a product or idea from concept to creation. Technology transfer and corporate partnerships are part-and-parcel of university life in the 21st century. 


From long-term research partnerships that produce novel solutions, through to providing quick turnaround of expert technical consultancy for investment opportunities, universities are increasingly becoming a one-stop shop for organisations who are looking for new ideas or credible evidence to support new business developments.

That wide network, both in industry and across the academic sector, means that the insights you’ll get from university partners can have quickly applicable and peer-comparable outcomes, too.

Whether you see yourself as a disruptive organisation, or an incumbent that faces disruption from new entrants to the market, the horizon-scanning opportunities made available through university-linked partnerships can keep your ahead of the competition.

Case study: Long-term partners for projects small and large

Engineering company Dyson, known for innovative home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, fans and hand dryers, have worked with Imperial College London since 2005. Initially exploring technologies to improve computer vision through work with Professor Andrew Davison and Dr Stefan Leutenegger, they have subsequently supported further research across the College, becoming a keystone partner for the Dyson School of Design Engineering, where projects range from behavioural psychology and researching best-practice in design principles through to new product innovations.

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 “It is no longer just about the quality of the science, but how that science will be used.”

It’s a far cry from the ‘ivory towers’ of expertise providing limited impact and few applicable insights or societal benefits that was once the perception from outside the academic bubble.

Increasingly, researchers are themselves well-versed on the importance of working with funders or investors too, and have become more IP-savvy– recognising that the democratisation of science doesn’t have to mean foregoing commercial opportunities.

Did you know... in the UK, the university sector’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) measures the value of the work contributed by universities. From 2021, the REF score will better-reflect the non-academic impact created by the research, such as for societal benefit or economic value for businesses.

High-value businesses founded from university research


Ceres Power

Credited in early 2020 as the UK’s most valuable cleantech company, worth an estimated £600 million, Ceres Power’s fuel cell technology was pioneered through projects in the 1990s before forming a company from the research, which included Professor Nigel Brandon (now Dean of the Faculty of Engineering) among its founders. Startups focusing on different aspects of fuel cell technology and energy storage at Imperial College London continue to attract investment, thanks to the College’s successful track record within the sector. 



DNA Nudge

Building on over 30 years of world-leading research by Professor Chris Toumazou, Regius Professor of Engineering at Imperial College London, the device utilises simple low-power lab-on-a-chip technology to enable consumers to make healthier choices. It has been quickly adapted to produce COVID-19 testing kits that provide results within 90 minutes, with the UK Government announcing a contract for 5.8 million devices, for a total purchase of over £160 million. 



Student startup Notpla formed in only 2013 with the support of Imperial’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through the use of a seaweed-based polymer, the group created edible water bottles, which could then be adapted for multiple purposes, addressing the problem of single-use plastics and non-recyclable materials in food and drink packaging. Among their clients so far are a number of sporting events organisers, such as the London Marathon and Vitality.


Screenshot 2020-10-20 at 13.52.47

Investing in your company’s bottom line, now and for the future

So when R&D budgets are squeezed, and executives may worry about explaining to shareholders why it’s important to invest now for the future when a company might not be operating by the end of the year, universities offer a cost-effective way of maximising return on investment as well as helping unlock the innovative potential that already exists within your organisation.

Talent attraction is easier when you can pull on partnerships with other well-known and leading brands, such as the top tier of international universities, whose students and alumni are based around the world.




Case study: Global law firm develops in-house data-science team

Two Imperial alumni were recruited by law firm DLA Piper after their data science projects helped the firm uncover valuable insights in its data. The two students developed a tool for analysing billing data that helped optimise the staffing profiles it applies to different work, and its efficacy led DLA Piper to establish their own in-house data science team, with the two students joining when they graduated. Read the full account of the successful project here


Screenshot 2020-10-20 at 13.28.18

By working directly with them you can develop pathways for your next cohort of strategists and practitioners, as well as developing development opportunities for your current employees. 

And more than that – by embracing innovation, you are investing in making meaningful impact for your customers, staff and stakeholders, while building the platform for profitable returns in the future. 

Imperial Business Partners: all the membership benefits

Book a chat with our Programme Manager

Imperial Business Partners is a gateway to the forefront of science and technology. Working with us, businesses secure competitive advantage by working with world leading experts in a broad range of areas and getting closer to promising talent, emerging innovation, start-ups, scale ups and other business that are part of our innovation ecosystem. 

We offer dedicated support for businesses that want to extract the maximum benefit from their interactions with Imperial. We deliver a portfolio of a services that will support decision-making in your business and finds new solutions based on science and research. 

As part of our corporate membership network, you will have access to a range of specialist services and member events curated specially for you. Through tailored advice, training, technology showcases and events, we’ll guide you through Imperial’s innovation landscape to find exactly what your business needs.  


Pathfinder projects are co-designed to support your needs. It's the mechanism through which we can align the business needs and the challenges that your organisation is facing with the areas of Imperial’s science, technology and business expertise that are most relevant.  

Through scoping, exploration and delivery phases, we’ll connect your organisation with almost four thousand academic experts and a thriving ecosystem of inventors and high-tech start-ups. We’ll identify the Imperial people and teams most relevant to your needs so we can start collaborating for innovation. 

Watch the Pathfinder video for an overview of the collaboration process. 

IBP - Pathfinder - MP4



In addition to the Pathfinder process, the Imperial Business Partners membership includes the following benefits and services: 

  • A dedicated Account Manager
  • Accelerated access to cutting edge science and technology via connection to leading experts and emerging startup
  • Preferential rates for Exec Ed open programmes
  • Receive a 25% discount when booking on all Open programmes (online, virtual and on-campus)
  • Members-only, curated quarterly event series and publications
  • Curated networking opportunities
  • Student projects

 Your IBP relationship manager can help you identify appropriate activities that will support your business strategy. As a member, you will decide which pathfinder activity you will want to undertake among the following:

  • 5 free consultancy days
  • Bespoke tech foresight projects exclusive to IBP members
  • Quarterly innovation challenge days on a theme of choice
  • Startup ecosystem connection programme
  • Co-branded events

To request details of the terms and conditions in the membership agreement CLICK HERE

IBP is meant to be the basis for long term relationship, and we hope you can join us. Find out more on

Client Testimonials


"SSE became a business partner of Imperial College London in 2018 and the partnership has enabled us access to expertise which has informed our strategic decision making. The caliber of research and academic insight at Imperial has been consistently excellent and we have really benefited from the access that the partnership has given us to engage with Imperial’s academics."

Emmeline Smart, SSE.

"Working with IBP for over 5 years, the broad range of academic and industry based experienced Professionals has been easy to access to motivate and inspire us to improve our own working practices. Learning from each other through this group of diverse businesses, who are all intent on innovating and improving for the future, also makes us to actively work towards being 'first in class' in our own business. Being part of the IBP without doubt has helped us move forwards within our own industry."

Rakesh Patel, Edwardian Group.

Case Studies

Future of Water 
Imperial Business Partners worked with Imperial Tech Foresight to develop a bespoke workshop for a collaborative project on the future of water in the UK. The co-creation sessions focused on understanding and deconstructing the changing landscape of water in the UK exploring social, technological, environmental, economic and political factors together with leading expert academics from the College and external experts. The outcome of the work was to gain a rapid understanding of the changing opportunities and risks for water exploring the present, possible and probable futures by exploring the potential outcomes of the potential implementation of technologies and emerging shifts cross secondary and tertiary consequences. 

The design of the session was bespoke for the client. The aim was to balance future provocative thinking and grounding technology insight from Imperial experts. As an example, we highlighted future areas, such as "cloud harvesting technologies" and "waterways enhanced with nootropics" to more present future opportunities, such as "self-healing water pipelines" and "digital water". Ideas were discussed and placed on a futures timeline connected to their impact. The final result is a designed timeline that the client used to share their perspective on future waterways. It also helped the client advance their thinking in this area focusing on stretchy future opportunities that go beyond the present-day ideas and highlighting positive disruption in the area for the next ten years and beyond. Exploring futures can help to think beyond ‘current mindset’ and presentism to consider future impact and opportunity that brings businesses out of their organizational thinking. It also helps identify weak signals that might lead to new business prospects.   

An International Chamber of Commerce 
Imperial Tech Foresight curated a series of bespoke, interactive workshops with a group of international manufacturing organisations to explore how future design processes might evolve in light of new market demands, and what might happen when Industry 4.0 allows the development of more holistic manufacturing systems. The impact of additive manufacturing and advanced knowledge sharing was also explored during this two-day immersive programme. 

Through IBP, an International Chamber of Commerce was able to tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Imperial, gaining accelerated access to new knowledge, insight and world-class academic expertise, subsequently providing their network with a credible vision of the pioneering technologies disrupting the manufacturing sector.  

A global bank 
Banks and other financial services companies are increasingly benefiting from the specialist expertise of academics at Imperial.  Our world leading researchers are helping them to advance thinking and innovate in areas including cybersecurity, data analytics, fintech and climate finance. 

One of our partners, a global banking network, recently published Lending to Low-Carbon Technologies, a report on financing for low-carbon solutions. Delivered through IBP and authored by colleagues from Imperial College Business School’s Centre for Climate Finance and Investment, the report examines how finance can better support low-carbon solutions and help meet the UK government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

This global banking network is the latest of several banks to benefit from working with the Centre. Elsewhere within the Imperial College Business School, financial services companies are working with the Centre for Financial Technology to identify new methods for capturing and analysing data, reimagining current systems and our notions of money and value to better serve businesses and society. 

An energy provider 
After an initial client scoping session, Imperial Business Partners were able to leverage the expertise of the Energy Futures Lab to commission a report around electricity market design.  The aim of this piece of work was to identify, critique, and discuss how electricity markets can be reimagined for a significantly decarbonised electricity production mix in the mid-21st century.  The work primarily focused on how market design affects investment in large-scale generation technologies that are expected to provide the main part of the future low carbon electricity supply (offshore wind, large onshore wind, and nuclear) in the UK context.  Upon delivery, IBP curated an interactive roundtable discussion involving the client, authors and individuals from BEIS to deliberate the report’s key findings.   

An international airline 
Following an in-depth client consultation, Imperial Business Partners contracted The Leonardo Centre to carry out an in-depth analysis of the quality, degree of maturity, and effectiveness of the organisation’s efforts towards a more sustainable operating model.  

The resulting report built on the uniqueness of the Leonardo-Golden database; the first to focus on global corporate initiatives designed specifically to address the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Leonardo Centre were able to leverage the most advanced linguistic analytical techniques, such as machine learning and natural language processing to identify and codify all the sustainability initiatives worldwide from the public and sectors, including institutions, cities, and universities.  This subsequently provided the client with a robust, objective, evolutionary assessment of the status of their organisation and industry through an analysis of its behaviour and sustainability initiatives. 

A global bank 
As part of a six-part, co-designed webinar series, Imperial Business Partners scoped and delivered an insight session focusing on emerging distributed ledger technologies and the barriers which are inhibiting the adoption and mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies.  Drawing on academic expertise from the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, the webinar looked to address important questions such as how do you create an organisational design that can balance centralisation with decentralisation?  How does blockchain change the way we perceive trust and what extent can delegation be performed in a decentralised system?  To complement the academic theory and demonstrate the application of emerging fintech, a start-up showcase was incorporated, forging industry connections with Imperial Enterprise Lab and our unique, entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

If you're interested in exploring, debate and critically defining your futures in a specific areas or theme, get in-touch with Imperial Business Partners to co-design topics and define bespoke futures workshops. IBP is meant to be the basis for long term relationship, and we hope you can join us.

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