Carbon13 Venture Builder FAQs

The application process is in multiple stages. Stage 1 is a brief eligibility questionnaire.  Stage 2 is an application form which will  require about two hours to complete. Your submitted application will be independently assessed by three members of our team using a scoring matrix. Using the scoring matrix the team will decide who will be invited for an interview.  Applicants chosen for interview will be interviewed by two or three people from our team.  The team will then reconvene and agree which applicants should be offered a place on the programme.

If you want to build a venture with the potential to reduce carbon emissions then please apply to the programme. We encourage you to be honest about your experience. 

All applications are independently assessed by a panel of assessors, who will use a scoring mechanism that takes into consideration the demands of the programme alongside the need to ensure there is diversity and appropriate different skills in the teams that will come together on the programme.

The radical innovation the climate crisis requires is best supported by diverse mindsets, ideas and backgrounds.  

This is currently not reflected in venture investment, with founders from “non-traditional” backgrounds struggling to secure the funding despite studies overwhelmingly demonstrating that, when it comes to radical innovation, diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones. 

Our positive approach to diversity allows us to contribute to transforming this element of the status quo and to give every founder a chance to secure funding. We will assess applicants based on the principles mentioned here and as outlined in our diversity and inclusion policy

Yes, but you do not need to start the programme with an idea. The first and second phases of the programme focus on forming a team and ideation – more about the structure of our programme can be found here.

Yes, you can still apply. We expect most ventures to be created and raise investment during the programme, but great founders with existing business in their early stages are welcome. 

Yes, but all existing team members need to apply as individuals and reference their cofounders names within their application.

Our investors want to invest in dream teams, not individuals.

Funding follows the generation of proof points that tell investors ” this is a venture worth building”. Our expert team will support and guide you to generate rapidly the proof points needed to put your venture in the best position to secure investment and move from Phase 2 onto Phase 3.

Our industry/corporate partners may provide problem statements they are working on solving, and the Carbon13 team along with our Domain Experts and Entrepreneurs in Residence will help you develop your systemic innovation and find the right area to work on that will make the biggest impact on carbon. But entrepreneurial teams have to make their own minds up about how they want to build a lasting, impactful, valuable venture.

We are looking for entrepreneurs who have experience in or are ambitious to create carbon emissions reducing ventures in the key industries listed below:

  • Agriculture and food
  • Energy
  • Construction and housing
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport, mobility and logistics
  • Telecoms
  • Finance
  • Consumer
  • All our founders are asked to commit to attempting to build a venture, if it reaches its potential, which can reduce emissions by 10m tonnes of CO2e.  This requires systematic ambitious thinking about solutions, markets and business models.

The company you create during the venture builder programme owns any Intellectual Property you create.

You will need to spend at least the first two months of the programme in Cambridge (though commuting is fine.) And of course, the most effective way to take advantage of the extraordinary Cambridge tech cluster is to move here for the duration of the programme.  However, after the first two months of the programme, teams can, if they choose, work virtually, though co-working space is provided throughout Phases 2 and 3.

We have three Modes of operation within the programme. These are:


  1. Full – everyone is expected on site within core working hours
  2. Specialist support – custom, targeted, optional workshops, and dedicated 1:1s with Domain Experts and other community partners
  3. On-call – during co-working and holiday time

Our programme embraces flexitime and therefore operates with core working hours between 0930 – 1530.  We all have different daily rhythms, alternative commitments and interests. Phase 1 is mostly Full Mode. Phase 2 has less Full Mode – you need time to seek out your customers and work with them– and introduces more specialist support alongside events to engage our wider community. In Phase 3, specialist support becomes less frequent but higher value, with increasing events to engage externals.

If you need any further information or help, please contact us on [email protected]

Building a business is a major commitment, and we fully expect the companies to be present and engaged for the majority of the programme. Your aim is to create a venture worthy of a £75k pre-seed investment by the end of Month 4 and that is an undertaking that will require a very serious commitment of time and energy both to make it work and to bring your co-founder(s), collaborators and stakeholders with you. You will need to spend the first two months of the programme in Cambridge (or commuting to Cambridge.)  However, beyond that two months, we do leave the decision of how to manage your time and other commitments, ultimately, to you.

We expect to receive over 2000 applications for 50 places on the cohort. We will carefully select the best of these applicants for you to match with.

We expect the programme to be highly competitive, by which we mean only 35 out of the 50 accepted applicants are likely to progress to Phase 2 – therefore it is vitally important to find your cofounder or cofounders from amongst participants joining at the same time. If you do not team up with anyone, you will leave the programme. You can apply again to the next cohort and you will remain part of the Carbon13 alumni community for life.

If you have someone in mind, we strongly suggest you encourage them to apply to the programme as well. Our expectations are that people will find their cofounders from within the programme.

If you are going to found a venture which can really move the needle on CO2e emissions, it will have to be a scalable one. To remove this much CO2e from the emissions base, you will need to build a large regional/multi national business.  One way to think about it is that the typical UK resident emits about 10 tonnes of CO2e per year.  To remove 10m tonnes per year of Green House Gases (GHG) from the emissions base means helping 1m people to go carbon neutral, or 10m people to reduce their emissions by 1 tonne or 100m people to reduce their emissions by 100kg.  Another way to think about it is to focus on the hundreds of corporates who have recently made net zero pledges or adopted other science based targets. Most of them are planning to buy carbon offsets as part of their “road to net zero” – but they would all much rather find ways to improve their own business processes, change their value proposition to their customers, or adopt new business models that have a net reducing impact on GHG emissions. 

Among our focal areas for Phase 1 and 2 of the programme is to help you design a value proposition and scalable business model.  The contribution that entrepreneurship can make to decarbonising the economy is through offering value propositions that substitute low carbon intensity alternatives for enterprises and people. 

The programme will consist of 20 technical founders, 20 commercial founders and 10 venture catalyst founders. More information can be found here

We expect applicants with technical expertise in emergent technologies and software tools, with knowledge in business model areas such as the circular economy, and with networks and expertise in the industrial sectors responsible for the most CO2e emissions:  energy, agriculture & food, construction & housing, transport, mobility & logistics and manufacturing. Along with founders from these areas, we expect to welcome founders from enabling sectors such as telecoms and finance. Finally, we expect to welcome founders with expertise relevant to building consumer businesses.

So long as you have formed a cofounding team you will move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the programme. Your newly formed team will need to pitch to an investment committee to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.

Our intention is to invest in eight ventures to move onto Phase 3.


1. If you do not form a team with another participant

2. If your team doesn’t secure investment at the end of stage 2 of the programme

3. If you breach any of our terms of our code of conduct policy.

Everyone who joins Carbon13 to build a venture focussed on carbon emission reduction and climate change becomes part of our community for life. We value our relationship with the Carbon13 alumni and will support you in any way we can via our network.

We will provide you with access to our network and expertise on how to build and grow your carbon emission reducing start-up, a stipend to cover your living costs for the first four months of the programme, as well as pre-seed investment if you progress to Phase 3. We will run a variety of workshops and activities as part of this process – but the “point” of Carbon13 is to build ventures, not to provide “classes”. 

50 individuals enter phase 1. At the end of Phase 1 (1 month), teams will coalesce around carbon problems they want to solve. These 2-3 person teams will be keen to progress to investigating and validating a specific venture’s feasibility, desirability, viability and effectiveness, but the first emphasis is on forming a complementary and strong venture team. Those who do not form a team by the end of Phase 1 will leave the programme, though they remain a part of the Carbon13 community and are welcome to apply to a future cohort. Participants will receive a stipend of £1,000 during Phase 1.

During Phase 2 (3 months) teams will work to uncover a venture which can make a sustained climate impact and is capable of going to market within one year. This is done through rapid build-measure-learn iterations and other techniques to validate a means to scalable impact. Discussions with customers and stakeholders are critical. Teams will be preparing to pitch to the Carbon13 Investment Committee at the end of Phase 2. Teams will receive a stipend of £3,000 per team member during Phase 2.


Ventures who are successful in their pitch will receive a £100,000 investment from the Carbon13 Seed Fund in the form of an Advance Subscription Agreement. £25,000 of this investment will be used to pay Carbon13 Ltd to cover the costs of Phase 3 of the programme. Ventures will also assign share options, exercisable on sale or flotation of their company, equivalent to 3% of their equity, to Carbon13 Ltd. The ventures will then move to Phase 3.

We expect eight to ten ventures will be selected to go through to Phase 3. This phase of the programme (4 months) focuses on generating the proof points necessary around market, product, business model and strategy to prepare the venture for further seed-stage investment. We also help you look at scaling strategies, managing growth pains and developing a funding strategy. If you reach Phase 3, then Carbon13 has invested in you and is your business partner – we are fully aligned in working with you to develop your venture in the way that will have the most impact on reducing CO2e emissions. This includes getting you ready for investment, introducing you to investors and other stakeholders, and preparing you for your next steps while remaining part of the Carbon13 community.

At the end of Phase 2, our investment committee will review your progress and milestones achieved, your venturepotential commercial viability, potential for scaling and impact on CO2e emissions. If they deem your venture to have the necessary stamina in these areas, your venture will receive a pre-seed investment of £100,000 in the form of an Advance Subscription Agreement. £25,000 of this investment is then paid to Carbon13 as a fee for the costs of delivering Phase 3 of the programme.  Your venture therefore retains net £75,000.  

Following our initial investment and into Phase 3, you will work with us on developing your venture further, creating evidence, traction and footprint, the keys to preparing it to be fit to receive future investment at the end of Phase 3 at the Demo Day.   

 The investment will come from the Carbon13 SEIS Fund into which there will be numerous investors.  

The investors into the Carbon13 SEIS Fund (which will make investment into your venture) are motivated by making money from the fund, by reducing carbon emissions and to using their funds to initiate the change process through investing in Carbon13’s start-up ventures. There are tax benefits (relating primarily to novelty and scalability of the venture) from investing in the Carbon13 SEIS Fund and therefore ventures themselves will need to comply with UK tax authority legislation.

No. The split between founders can be agreed between themselves.  

Every individual who accepts a place on the venture builder programme will receive a stipend of £1000 per calendar month for the period they remain on the programme until the end of Phase 2.  

You should check your own tax position. We believe that a stipend does not count as wages earned, so no PAYE will be withheld, but depending on your circumstances the stipend could count as taxable income, so you will need to plan to set aside money for the taxes you will owe on your stipend at the end of the tax year.  

If your venture is accepted onto Phase 3 Carbon13 will make an investment into your venture in the form of an Advanced Subscription Agreement (See more details below). Your venture can use part of the investment proceeds to pay you, but this would be taxable as income. 

An Advanced Subscription Agreement Investment represents the first £100,000 of equity investment into your company 

The ASA commits your venture to allot shares to the Carbon13 SEIS fund in the future, most probably at the next funding round following the VBP demo day, with the valuation set at a 20% discount to the Demo Day round valuation. 

The ASA Investment should enable your venture to start hiring and begin to demonstrate business traction and evidence of an investible business plan. This should make it possible for your venture to raise money from other investorsprior to or following the Demo Day, due to take place at the end of Phase 3 of the VBP.  The ASA investment will also enable you to pay the costs of participating in Phase 3 of the VBP.  

As part of the VDP, Carbon13 Limited will provide your venture with a variety of services. To pay for these services your venture will be required to make a payment of £25,000 using the ASA investment proceeds. 

It’s the drive of you and your team to reduce CO2e emissions that Carbon13 is set to foster. If your business does not succeed, you will have been on a journey and will walk away with learnings that can be shared with the Carbon13 community and your networks developed through the programme. The ASA proceeds do not need to be repaid in case of business failure. 

Your potential as an entrepreneur deserves to be devoted to the biggest problem of our time. You and your fellow entrepreneurs have an essential contribution to make to ensure our planet remains habitable and with the help of Carbon13, will build fantastic ventures in the process. Only Carbon13 brings you together with people who share this mission: founders, Domain Experts, Entrepreneurs in Residence, investors, corporate partners and our team. 

We have design flexibility in the programme to account for possible disruption and will switch to an online delivery. The climate can’t wait.  

All businesses we invest in will be incorporated in the UK.  Support and guidance with setting up a business in the UK will be provided as part of the programme.

Carbon13’s Venture Builder supports you as an entrepreneur with finding technical and commercial co-founders, gives you access to industry experts, experienced entrepreneurs and coaches and helps you plug into the Cambridge innovation ecosystem.  The programme will help you to raise finance and provides you will the skills and tools necessary to avoid the pitfalls in decision making that plague early stage ventures.

You will build connections and relationships that your company will capitalise on for its lifetime, whilst de-risking the initial stages of your venture journey with a monthly stipend and opportunity for investment at the end of Phase 2. 

61% of the UK’s most successful startups start life through accelerator programmes and the Carbon13 venture builder programme will provide you with the essential building blocks to create a scalable, CO2e emissions reducing venture, quickly and effectively.  The climate cannot wait.

Yes, support and guidance with setting up a business in the UK and the necessary structures and agreements for sound governance will be provided as part of the programme

There will be a pool of subject matter Domain Experts on whom we will call depending on the needs of the entrepreneurs. In addition, you will have access to a number of Entrepreneurs in Residence whose backgrounds are in startups with experience of both success and failure and experts who will work with you to encourage progress against self-set venture milestones.