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Find out more about key developments in the ecosystem and hear about our ventures' latest successes and challenges. 

Igniting innovation

A report on the challenges faced by deep tech chemistry ventures in their technology commercialisation journeys 

10 February 2023

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A report on challenges faced by deep tech chemistry in their technology commercialisation journeys 


Deep tech chemistry ventures are vital to our economy and future prosperity. Despite their potential, deep tech chemistry ventures are not well understood or supported. Our report highlights the unique contribution of these innovative companies and reveals the challenges and barriers they face in turning research and development (R&D) into real-world applications.  

'The journey of tech-based innovation to market can be long, complex, and often non-linear. The UK excels at certain stages of this process but is weaker at others. We should pursue these signals of weakness and address the underlying issues' UK Government Innovation Strategy 

What are deep tech chemistry ventures?

Deep tech chemistry ventures are a sub-group of chemistry-based ventures working on areas from advanced materials and manufacturing, energy and environment technologies to bioinformatics and genomics.

They develop technologies that:

  • Are based on underlying chemistry intellectual property (IP), skills or methods
  • Are novel and enable significant technological advances
  • May have the power to create their own markets or disrupt existing industries
  • Require concerted R&D to develop business or consumer applications and bring them to market
  • May help address big societal and environmental challenges

  • What challenges do they face?

    Despite their potential, there is considerable evidence that deep-tech chemistry ventures take a particularly long time to develop their technologies. Their journey is complex, and a range of factors need to align for success: entrepreneurship capabilities, technology, management and technical skills, finance, equipment, access to good advice, networks, collaboration opportunities and effective IP management.  You can read more about our research in our reports here.

    Our action plan 

    We know that deep-tech chemistry ventures face unique challenges. Our five-point action plan sets out the practical steps we are taking to support them and influence change. As a powerful voice for chemistry, we are working with key players in the ecosystem to: 

    • Champion the role of deep tech chemistry ventures in tackling some of the most pressing societal and environmental challenges we face 
    • Establish and support peer-to-peer networks to promote leadership skills, growth and innovation
    • Enable connections with investors to improve access to capital 
    • Enable funders to provide support and processes that meet the needs of deep tech chemistry ventures 
    • Make it easier for deep tech chemistry ventures to find the premises and equipment they need to grow and thrive. 

    Our first step 

    We set up Change Makers to establish an ecosystem for deep tech chemistry, providing much needed visibility and support for ventures in the UK.  

    Change Makers supports, connects and champions visionary deep tech chemistry ventures, whose goal is to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.  

    Whether you're a deep tech chemistry venture, investor, or industry expert, you have an important role to play in Change Makers. Join our entrepreneurial ecosystem.


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    Igniting Innovation

    A report on challenges faced by deep tech chemistry in their technology commercialisation journeys.
    More info...

    Access to laboratory space and equipment

    New research into challenges deep tech chemistry ventures face in accessing laboratory space and equipment

    10 February 2023


    Laboratory space and specialist equipment is core to bringing any chemistry-based technology to market.

    Whether it's glove boxes for developing next generation battery technology, ducted fume-hoods for safe use of chemicals or analytical equipment for characterising small molecule drugs, without access to bespoke, affordable chemistry facilities it is simply impossible for chemistry start-ups and early-stage ventures to flourish.

    In 2022, we reported that there's a widespread perception in the UK of a lack of available, suitably equipped premises for deep tech chemistry SMEs. New property data published last year shows the extent of the issue, with key UK science clusters Oxford and Cambridge having almost no available laboratory spaces for rent.

    Our community tells us that this issue is constraining business development and scale-up, right up and down the country – and it's not going away.
    “One site offered us a lab big enough for 10 researchers and only one fume hood; this is a sensible proportion for a pharmacology lab, but totally inadequate for our needs and the needs of any synthetic chemistry company.”

    From words to action

    Tackling systemic issues that hamper chemistry technologies from getting to market is key to our mission for Change Makers. That's why this year we're embarking on a journey to drive change.

    Throughout 2023 we're bringing together key players to identify the issues relating to access to laboratory space and equipment. We will work with our community to generate evidence on the matters that specifically concern chemistry start-ups and early-stage ventures. And we will facilitate connections and dialogue in the ecosystem to develop solutions and impetus for action.

    This is an ongoing theme for 2023. Stay up to date by checking our website for updates.

    Be part of the action

    We need your help and input:


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    Access to laboratory space and equipment

    New research into challenges deep tech chemistry ventures face in accessing laboratory space and equipment.
    More info...

    Making the Change

    From SME support to ecosystem wide intervention

    23 January 2024

    Find out how we are evolving EnterprisePlus and how this impacts our ventures.

    Why Change Makers

    For over a decade, we delivered EnterprisePlus to more than 600 SMEs in the chemical sciences, supporting service providers and deep tech start-ups from different sectors and across the stages of their evolution. Through our relationships with our EnterprisePlus companies, getting to know their needs and challenges, and our continual assessment of our strategy, we have zeroed in on the impact we want to have on the world and how best to deliver it.

    We believe that the solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges lie on SMEs lab benches, and in their pilot plants and prototypes. But some of these ideas will never reach fruition due to the dangerous journey from idea to market. A good chemistry education or successful career in the sciences often doesn’t equip an entrepreneur with the skills to commercialise and surmount challenges like scale-up, idea validation, finding a market, and leading an R&D intensive venture. Tackling these, whilst also developing their technology and finding the funds needed to succeed, can be a death knell for a fledgling business. Subsequently ground-breaking cancer cures, plastic alternatives, sustainable fuels, and endless other creative sparks may be snuffed out before anyone knows they existed.

    That is why Change Makers is here to power positive change through deep tech chemistry and help start-ups and spinouts succeed on their commercialisation journey. However, to do this, we needed a new approach.

    For EnterprisePlus, the Royal Society of Chemistry typically engaged with companies on a one-to-one basis, discussing SMEs needs and providing support. We played a transactional role when delivering grants individually to businesses, and we acted as the middleman in connecting our EnterprisePlus companies with each other, investors and experts.

    Through Change Makers we want to maximise our resources and create scalable impact, delivering a one-to-many approach with a focus on businesses directly accessing the support they need, organically connecting with each other, and creating programmes where more people can benefit.

    How we’re doing it

    To start our journey, we have launched a number of programmes that have been designed with deep tech chemistry ventures at their heart. These utilise our knowledge and connections developed through over a decade of working closely with chemistry SMEs. 

    Venture Mentoring

    Currently it can be hard to find support that can address the unique combination of business and technical challenges faced by a deep tech chemistry venture. Our mentors are selected for their experience launching ground-breaking innovations and their industry sector specific knowledge, as well as their drive to see new entrepreneurs bypass the challenges they faced and turn their ideas into solutions to society’s biggest challenges.

    Through Venture Mentoring  and our matching events, we pair employees of Change Makers ventures with a dedicated deep tech chemistry Venture Mentor, selected from a pool of experienced experts. The mentor will support their entrepreneur on the current challenges they’re facing with regular check-ins from our team to ensure that both are getting the most out of the partnership. 

    As the venture’s technology and business evolves, they are also able to develop relationships with new mentors that will match their needs at different stages of their growth.


    Our 2024 matching events

    26 March
    19 June
    24 September
    3 December 

    Entrepreneurs interested in being matched will need to be part of a company accepted into Change Makers for ventures and then sign up for the Venture Mentoring programme. We will then invite them to a matching event with a cohort of experts selected for their needs. 


    Finding investment takes time and effort that entrepreneurs need for working on their technology and business. To take some of the work out of finding investment, we are creating a curated network of investors who understand deep tech chemistry investment and the time and capital required to make them a success. This network is selected to ensure that all investors share the Change Makers ethos and want to invest in making the world a better place. Through Change Makers, our ventures have the opportunity to get support with their pitch for funding and attend our Investment Catalyst  event, where businesses present their technology to and can connect with our network of investors.    

    We can also help ventures find funding with access to UKBAA’s DealShare platform and we can create a report of available grants and funds for their business. Ventures will need to be accepted into Change Makers prior to applying to pitch.


    Ventures can find it difficult to get the training their business needs. This can be due to a lack of suitable training content for the unique technical challenges faced by deep tech chemistry SMEs; the time and ability to figure out what they need and who will provide good quality training; or the prohibitive cost of training. To address this, we are launching Masterclasses delivered by industry experts, focusing on topics that are specific to our ventures’ challenges and stages of development. 

    Previous masterclasses have included telling your impact story, identifying and developing markets for new technologies, and leading an R&D intensive venture.

    We will be launching our 2024 programme soon; let us know which topics you would like to hear more about .   

    Other support

    Beyond these programmes, ventures can access a wide range of additional support, which will continue to grow:

    • Regular check-ins with the Change Makers for Ventures team.
    • Access to curated peer groups of like-minded founders of deep tech ventures in their sector or technology area.
    • Access to chemistry-focussed Professional Services Experts via seminars and 1:1 surgeries.

    Apply for Change Makers  

    Tackling the wider ecosystem

    Our goal with Change Makers doesn’t just end with connecting SMEs with the investors, experts, and service providers to provide direct support to their business.

    We want to tackle the systemic challenges impacting deep tech chemistry. Whilst we can make the road easier for a handful of businesses, we want to create a world where it is easier to take an idea successfully on the journey to impact.

    Through Change Makers we will deliver future programmes of work to tackle challenges such as access to lab spaces, diversity in chemical entrepreneurship, and more. We will do the research and engagement to deeply understand these challenges; advocate for SMEs through our connections with government and policymakers; use our reach to raise awareness of these businesses, their technologies, and their challenges and potential; and work to create interventions that will make a difference to the whole ecosystem. Through this work, we will ensure deep tech chemistry delivers real world impact quicker and more consistently.

    Getting involved

    There are a number of ways to be part of the Change Makers entrepreneurial ecosystem:

    • Deep tech chemistry ventures are invited to apply to Change Makers for ventures . If you meet our criteria, you will be initiated into our community of ventures and able to access our programmes of support.
    • Potential investors, mentors, industry experts, and others with an interest in deep tech chemistry are invited to get in touch with our team  to discuss how they can get involved.  
    We're powering positive change through deep tech chemistry; how will you be making a change in 2024?


    More resources

    The latest news, reports, articles and resources.

    View all posts

    Subscribe to the newsletter

    Want to keep up to date with the latest news from the ecosystem? Subscribe now to hear more from us.

    Making the change

    From SME support to ecosystem wide intervention.
    More info...

    Subscribe to the newsletter

    Want to keep up to date with the latest news from the ecosystem? Subscribe now to hear more from us.