Imperial Inaugural – Entrepreneurs as scientists with Prof. Ramana Nanda


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March 24, 2021






Understanding and addressing financing frictions in Deep Tech entrepreneurship

Many of the world’s most pressing problems — from addressing climate change, developing sustainable food and water systems, and improving human health and well-being — depend critically on the successful commercialisation of fundamental science and engineering innovations that are often referred to collectively as “Deep Tech”. Deep Tech is also a cornerstone of continued advances in new technological paradigms such as quantum computing, advanced materials, synthetic biology, and numerous other innovations that arise from fundamental science and tangible innovation.

While Venture Capital remains a powerful source of risk capital to build traditional digital- and-technology ventures, the nature of Deep Tech ventures often makes them a poor match for VC investment. What drives this mismatch? What can be done to unlock greater commercial capital for Deep Tech Enterprise? And what role can universities play in helping to reduce the financing frictions they face?

Professor Ramana Nanda’s research is focused on understanding the drivers of financing constraints facing new ventures, to help entrepreneurs with fundraising and to shed light on how financial intermediaries, corporate R&D and policy makers can improve the odds of selecting and commercializing the most promising ideas and technologies.

Ramana’s lecture will document the disparity in the financing between “Deep Tech” and more traditional information technology ventures and map these to systematic differences in the attributes of these technologies. He will also reflect on the role that universities can play in supporting the development of successful deep tech entrepreneurs that are urgently needed to solve some of the most pressing problems facing societies today.


Ramana Nanda is the Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at Imperial College London. He received his PhD from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and his undergraduate in Economics from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the recipient of the 2015 Kauffman Prize Medal for Entrepreneurship research and was awarded an ERC Horizon 2020 Consolidator Grant last year for research in Entrepreneurial Finance.

As of July 2021, Ramana will be transitioning to a permanent position as Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at Imperial and will continue to help lead Imperial’s Academic Strategy Initiative on Deep Tech Entrepreneurship.


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