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 via SurveyMonkey Apply. Your submitted application will be independently assessed by two 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 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 at least two members from the existing team members need to apply as individuals and reference their cofounder/s name within their Stage 2 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
  • Buildings and construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport, mobility and logistics
  • 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 per annum.  This requires systematic, ambitious thinking about solutions, markets and business models.

One of the core ideas underlying Carbon13 is that it’s the strength of the team that matters, more than the idea. “Ideas” evolve many times between their original conception and the arrival of a solution to a customer’s problem in the marketplace.
Technical founders:
If you are a data scientist, a software developer, an AI/ML specialist: you may join with or without an idea for a startup.
If your work as a scientist or engineer is rooted in the physical or natural sciences: typically we would expect you to come with the beginnings of an idea, or at least a domain space that you intend to explore for startup opportunities.
Commercial or Venture Catalyst founders:
Most commercial or venture catalyst founders join in the expectation of working up an idea in collaboration with a technical founder. Of course your cofounder will welcome you having your own ideas, especially if you have validated them with customers. And, you will perhaps have domain spaces in which you feel particularly passionate about making an impact. But normally, if you have a specific idea that you want to pursue, as a commercial or venture catalyst founder you should be bringing the first customers for that idea to the table with you.

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

The first phase of the programme (“Teaming”, 6 weeks) will be delivered partly in person, partly virtually.  This means that on the “in person” days you will need to attend in person, in Cambridge, while on the “virtual” days you can be located anywhere.  There is no hybrid delivery where some people are in person and others are virtual on the same day.  Delivery will take place during our “core hours” of 0930-1530 (see more on “core hours” below).  

You will need to be able to attend the in person part of the programme in Cambridge, UK on 19-21 September, 4-6 October and 18-20 October 2022 for Cohort 4.  Please do not apply to the venture builder if this is not possible for you.

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 six weeks of the programme, teams can, if they choose, work virtually.

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

  1. Full – everyone is expected on site or online 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, 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 net £80k pre-seed investment 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.

We expect to receive around 2,000 applications for 60 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 that not everyone will automatically 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 are welcome to 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.

Each programme typically consists of approximately:

  • 15 Technical founders (Science/Engineering)
  • 15 Technical founders (Software, Data & ML)
  • 20 Commercial founders
  • 10 Venture Catalyst founders

We expect applicants with technical expertise in software engineering and with emergent technologies, 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, buildings & construction, transport, mobility & logistics and manufacturing. Along with founders from these areas, we expect to welcome founders from enabling sectors such as 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 10 to 12 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 focused 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.

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 three 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”. 

Programme leader-driven support, to a cohort of 60. By the end of Phase 1 (six weeks) entrepreneurs need to seek to form 2-3 person teams dedicated to developing businesses that:

  • have a serious, rapid and sustainable impact on emissions or some other aspect of the climate crisis
  • can reach the market in a year and gain serious market traction in two years

At the end of Phase 1, teams will 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 rather than on a specific venture idea. 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 rapid and sustainable climate impact and is capable of rapidly going to market and validate the venture through discussions with customers and other stakeholders. 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.

Teams who are successful in their pitch at Investment Committee will receive a £120,000 investment from the Carbon13 SEIS Fund in exchange for 7% equity in your venture. A total of £40,000 (excluding VAT) of this investment is then returned to Carbon13 in order to cover part of the costs of Phase 3 of the programme. As a result, your new venture retains a net £80,000, which it can use as it sees fit as you prepare for the next stage of development.

A number of teams will then move to Phase 3.

Phase 3 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. 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.  In our first cohort,eight ventures reached this stage.  In our second cohort, we expect that ten to twelve ventures will reach this stage, based on milestones achieved for investment readiness, and each will receive intensive coaching and support as they work to prepare for post Carbon13 life.  Phase 3 culminates in showcase days for investors in Cambridge and London.

At the end of Phase 2, our Investment Committee will review your progress and milestones achieved, your venture’s potential commercial viability, potential for scaling and impact on CO2e emissions. If the Investment Committee deems your venture to have the necessary stamina in these areas, your venture will receive a pre-seed investment of £120,000. £40,000 of this investment is then paid to Carbon13 in order to cover part of the costs of programme as a whole. Your venture therefore retains net £80,000. 

Following our initial investment and throughout Phase 3, we will work with you 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 showcase days.  

 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 £1,000 for Phase 1, and £1,000 per month in Phase 2, for the period they remain on the programme. 

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 SEIS Fund will make an investment into your venture (see more details below). Your venture can use part of the investment proceeds to pay you, but this would be taxable as income.

The investment represents the first £120,000 of equity investment into your company, and will result in your venture allotting a 7% equity stake to the Carbon13 SEIS fund.

This 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 investors, prior to or following the showcase days, due to take place at the end of Phase 3.

The investment will also enable you to pay Carbon13 a portion of the costs of participating in Phase 3. During Phase 3, Carbon13 and its partners will provide your venture with a variety of services and, to contribute towards the payment for these services, your venture will be required to make a payment of £40,000, using the investment proceeds.

Carbon13 is set up to foster you and your team’s drive to reduce CO2e emissions. 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 investment does 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. 

Carbon13 are one of the recognised accelerator programmes on the Tech Nation visa fast-track.

Any application that you submit via Tech Nation will be seen and processed before any others, you can expect to receive a decision on your Global Talent application within 2 weeks.

A Global Talent visa is a tier 1 visa, meaning it is attached to you as an individual rather than your organisation or role, giving you unparalleled flexibility and access to the UK tech ecosystem.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Tech Nation visa process, please click here for a more indepth video.

There are also a number of different types of visas which might allow you to stay longer in the UK, and there is more information here:

Investor, business development and talent visas

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.