Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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The Creative Destruction Lab comes to the UK.

March 12, 2019

Oxford / Toronto - UK and European science-based founders will soon benefit from a proven innovative program that helps commercialize their ideas and scale their businesses. CDL-Oxford will be delivered by the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, beginning in September 2019.

Established in 2012 by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a seed-stage program for massively scalable science and technology-based ventures.

The program matches participating companies with a carefully selected group of mentors including accomplished entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, and business professors. The nine-month mentorship program includes five full-day on-site sessions focused on objective setting. This approach has proved to be highly successful. To date CDL has helped to nurture start-ups worth over $3.1 billion in equity value.

Currently CDL operates at five universities across Canada and at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Now, Saïd Business School is partnering with the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto to deliver CDL in Europe for the first time.

Applications for CDL-Oxford will open in April 2019 for start-ups in the UK and beyond. In the first year, the program will focus on companies applying artificial intelligence to create new products and services. The primary sessions will be based in Oxford culminating in a “Super Session” which brings to Toronto the most promising ventures from across all CDL sites.

The initiative in Oxford is being led by Professor Thomas Hellmann, DP World Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School together with a team of high-calibre Founding Partners. The first three to be announced for CDL-Oxford are:

•         Patrick Pichette, former Google CFO who is now active with CDL in Montreal as a General Partner at the Canadian and UK-based venture capital firm, Inovia Capital. He is the incoming Chairman of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI).
•         Peter Davies, Senior Partner at Lansdowne Partners and current Chairman of OSI.
•         John McCall MacBain, an international entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Second Century Founder of the Rhodes Trust.  

‘First-time founders of science-based companies have deep technical knowledge but often lack the business judgement that only comes from years of experience,’ says CDL Founder Professor Ajay Agrawal from the University of Toronto. ‘CDL gives business founders and MBA students an opportunity to engage with highly successful entrepreneurs and scientists and learn from their judgment.’

Professor Peter Tufano, Dean of Saïd Business School, said: ‘With CDL we are taking the next step to support world-class scientific research and innovation across the UK and Europe. This program helps business and technical founders overcome the challenges of developing early-stage ventures into large-scale profitable organisations, by providing outstanding guidance on mission-critical aspects such as developing a commercial strategy, hiring the right people, and securing funding.’

‘The opportunities of artificial intelligence are endless and current innovations are already having a profound effect on our lives – from having a personal assistant on your mobile phone to websites suggesting new films you’d be interested in,’ said Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore. ‘In our modern Industrial Strategy, we have recognized the value AI can add to our economy, creating the high skilled jobs of the future and boosting our productivity in every part of the UK. This innovative Hub – the first in Europe – will help our start-ups get the support they need to take their ideas to market and scale up their businesses.’

Minister for Digital, Margot James, added: ‘The UK has a consistent track record of producing successful tech companies and is home to leading pioneers in artificial intelligence. It's great to see the Creative Destruction Lab recognize our global standing and choose Oxford as their European hub to nurture the next generation of tech start-ups. Thanks to our unique combination of talent, location, business friendly environment, world-leading universities, record levels of investment and modern industrial strategy, the UK is one of the best places in the world to start and grow a digital business.’

For more information about CDL-Oxford please visit:

About the Creative Destruction Lab
The Creative Destruction Lab is a seed-stage program for massively scalable, science-based companies. Its nine-month program pairs founders with experienced entrepreneurs and investors to set focused, measurable objectives with the goal of maximizing equity-value creation. Founded in 2012 by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the program has now expanded with locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Halifax, and New York City.
Since its inception in 2012, companies that have participated in the CDL program have created over £2 billion in equity value. CDL Alumni include North (Waterloo), Atomwise (San Francisco), Deep Genomics (Toronto), Automat (Montreal), Kyndi (Palo Alto), and Heuritech (Paris).
About Saïd Business School 
Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. We are a vibrant and innovative business school, yet deeply embedded in an 800-year old world-class university. We create programmes and ideas that have global impact.  We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to tackle world-scale problems. We deliver cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. We seek to be a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.
About Rotman School of Management 
The Rotman School of Management is part of the University of Toronto, a global centre of research and teaching excellence at the heart of Canada’s commercial capital. Rotman is a catalyst for transformative learning, insights and public engagement, bringing together diverse views and initiatives around a defining purpose: to create value for business and society. For more information, visit


For more information:

Ken McGuffin
Manager, Media Relations
Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto
Voice 416.946.3818

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