Discover our blogs

Aerospace | Cranfield University


Agrifood | Cranfield University


Alumni | Cranfield University


Careers | Cranfield University


Careers | Cranfield University

Defence and Security

Design | Cranfield University


Energy and Power | Cranfield University

Energy and Sustainability

Environment | Cranfield University


Forensics | Cranfield University


Libraries | Cranfield University


Libraries | Cranfield University

Manufacturing and Materials

Libraries | Cranfield University

School of Management

Libraries | Cranfield University

Transport Systems

Water | Cranfield University


Homepage / From Angels and VCs to VCIC

From Angels and VCs to VCIC


Martin Spiller, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management reflects on attending the Bettany Centre Speaker Series and being part of the North Europe Regional Finals of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) 

Universities are generally cool places to hang out, especially Cranfield where there are lots of planes, machines that do interesting things (most of which I cannot comprehend) and people from all walks of life either learning or sharing their knowledge for others to learn from.   

Then there are days like late last week, which really raise the bar and make you happy that you were able to be there to be part of it. 

Our panel of speakers being introduced by Professor Steffi Hussels on 22 February 2024 

We started on Thursday evening with the latest in our Entrepreneurship Speaker Series and we were blessed with a panel containing Alison Cooper (Alicia J Diamonds amongst others), Hugo Hickson (Pictet Group), Nigel Grierson (Westlecot Advisors) and Stepan Galaev (Galaev Grierson) who shared their thoughts on funding early and growth stage business and the state of the market.  

VCIC 2024 North European finals hosted on 23 February on Cranfield campus 

We were then treated on Friday to Cranfield hosting the European North round of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (“VCIC”) where the best and brightest MBA students from the business schools of Aalto, Bayes, ESCP, IESE and Manchester came to do battle for a position in the global finals at UNC Chapel Hill. 

There simply isn’t the time or space to cover all that we learned from the panel discussion, and really you should have been there as it was both free and online, or to outline how things played out as our erstwhile MBA candidates went to battle, so rather than do that I thought I would give you my three key takeaways from both events: 


The message was pretty unanimous, from all of our esteemed panel, that there is still lots of funding available in 2024 for early and growth stage ventures, but that the prevailing macro-economic environment coupled with the uncertainty in political and world affairs means that the money is in no rush to deploy. 

They all agreed that the very best opportunities will continue to receive support from the investment community, but entrepreneurs will need to both work hard to stand out and also have to look for ways to make what they have go further as the lack of clarity in the market means caution will prevail in the short to mid-term.  


The advice from the panel remained, as we have often heard from experts before, that building your networks and raising your social capital remains key in the fundraising process.  Entrepreneurs need to build their presence and be around investors and demonstrate their value in order to have a chance at securing funding in such parsimonious times. 

Those networks might also have to be more global in focus as the panel provided insights and gave examples where entrepreneurs were having to cast their net wider and look at growing markets, such as the Middle East, to secure funding for ventures which struggled to receive traction at home. 


The highly realistic atmosphere of VCIC proved once again that the maxim from the famous boxer was never truer, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face” and it was interesting to see that even the best students with amazing preparation can find it difficult to deliver at their best when put under pressure. 

What was also true was that the students flourished across the course of this intensive competition and the teams that presented their term sheets to the investment committee of the fictional VC at the end of the day have come on a long journey from those that tend to stutter at their first due diligence meeting with the entrepreneurs at the start of the process. 

So, as I stated above, universities in general are interesting places to spend your time but sometimes, in less than 48 hours, Cranfield, in particular, delivers some really valuable leading insights which are hard to beat! So entrepreneurs, please don’t miss out and come to the talks and students, make sure you join in the competitions as they truly are invaluable. 

Find out more: 

Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC): Global VCIC is the world’s largest venture capital competition with over 120 university and graduate school teams competing. VCIC is the only place where students get to be VCs for the day and startups get an immersion in the fundraising process. 

The Bettany Centre Entrepreneurship Speaker Series is the perfect opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from successful entrepreneurs. Hosted on campus and online, on Thursdays in November and February, it gives you the chance to hear from a variety of entrepreneurs from across a range of industries.  


Martin Spiller

Written By: Tammie Argent-Peters

Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship

Categories & Tags:

Leave a comment on this post:

Sign up for more information about studying master’s and research degrees at Cranfield

Sign up now
Go to Top