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Imperial College Business School

Building Your AI Unicorn: Fast-Track Your Tech Startup

Secure your spot before orientation begins.

11 May 2022
Registration closes 17 May

Payment options

Building Your AI Unicorn: Fast-Track Your Tech Startup

Accelerate your career with:
– In-demand skills
– Collaborative online learning
– Certificate of Participation from Imperial College Business School Executive Education

Secure your spot before orientation begins.

  • Length:
    6 weeks
  • Language:
  • Effort:
    7-10 hours per week, self-paced online learning

Your Next-Gen AI Accelerator

When humans innovate with AI, the results can be transformative: pharmaceutical companies finding new links between diseases and drugs, financial institutions detecting fraud before it happens, e-commerce giants enhancing the customer experience. AI is more than tech – it’s a promise of a healthier, fairer, more dynamic future.

For entrepreneurs, corporate innovators and startup-ecosystem business professionals, AI offers an exciting yet immense challenge. AI ventures inevitably encounter unique issues, like obtaining voluminous amounts of data and compiling the right mix of talent and teamwork to clean and secure it. Machine learning can yield meaningful insights, but only if you solve the cost-benefit problem of AI computational power. Supercomputers don’t grow on trees.

In this programme, David Shrier, Professor of Practice in AI & Innovation at Imperial College Business School, and Christopher Tucci, Professor of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Imperial College Business School, give you the foundational tools to accelerate your AI venture from prototype to product. A leader in UK tech startups, Imperial College Business School has the industry experts to help startup founders sidestep traps and secure funding.

The programme is an opportunity for leaders and innovators to gain immediate expertise in AI and learn how to leverage it for business success. By the end of the programme, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the AI startup ecosystem, a functional AI prototype, a plan to execute your venture and a road map for AI business success in any industry.

“This programme gives you what you need to master AI innovation by providing guided assistance to launch a new AI company or an AI innovation project inside an established company.”

David Shrier Programme Director Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London
Is This Programme Right for You?

  • An entrepreneur looking to venture into the dynamic field of artificial intelligence.

  • A startup-minded intrapreneur leading emerging tech innovation within an organisation.
  • A C-suite executive or senior leader overseeing AI innovation and R&D.
  • A functional business head interested in exploring cross-business AI opportunities.
  • A corporate professional – product manager, marketer, sales executive, technologist – eyeing entrepreneurship as your next move.
  • A lawyer, accountant, consultant or professional services/advisor eager for insights into AI entrepreneurs and your AI clients.
  • A current or future SMB leader seeking innovative business transformations.
  • A business professional looking for upskill and career advancement opportunities driven by advancement in AI applications.
  • An investor or analyst seeking AI business analytics tools, perspectives on venture implications and a deeper understanding of investment feasibility.
  • A policymaker responsible for building and growing AI-based innovation tools.
  • A government advisor or regulator in risk management, venture promotion, competition enhancement or consumer protection looking to leverage data to protect against unintended consequences of AI.

Programme Content

An overview of the programme, the next-generation platforms used to deliver it and an introduction to your international cohort members.

Introduction to AI, opportunities around AI at a market/society scale, and sub-areas in AI - expert systems, machine learning, deep learning:

  • Understand different AI technologies and their applications; expert systems, machine and deep learning applications
  • Describe how one can go from general AI and large scale market concepts to a narrower scope
  • Analyse market size and identify market opportunities by applying appropriate methodologies
  • Become familiar with applications of open source AI and solutions with market trajectories
  • Gain an introduction to the experiential learning capstone project

Explore Data for AI, processes and frameworks to design tactical operating processes for different stages of an AI startup in a rapid and effective way:

  • Learn the process of innovation and apply creative ideation techniques
  • Utilise rapid ideation by applying a conceptual framework
  • Describe tactical operating processes and apply the ones appropriate for the stage of the AI startup
  • Identify bias in data

Understand market sizing fundamentals and market/competitive analysis, strategic planning frameworks, resourcing for a venture, and presentation techniques:

  • Quantify the demand for your solution, identify the size of the market and the target audience
  • Design a strategic plan by applying a practical framework and utilising tools to enable a new AI startup or an existing venture
  • Analyse the components of resources and create a road map for resourcing the proposed solution
  • Utilise techniques to pitch the proposed solution internally or externally to get the idea off the ground (‘Hurry Up and Pitch’™ Clinic)

Understand and gain assistance with reshaping your business idea to offset the risks surrounding AI, and the changing environment in which it is being deployed. Key module components will include:

  • Algorithmic bias; how AI models can get distorted, how to recognise it is happening, the risks it creates for your business, and what to do to correct it
  • AI and the future of work; what are the labour and business implications of your AI venture
  • New AI regulations (e.g. the EU); the interventions that policymakers are contemplating to bring new limits around the use of AI, and how to design your business to navigate the changing landscape
  • Digital privacy and data; its implications for AI now and in the future

Finalise the development of an idea, and prepare the venture for the market:

  • Explore first customer activity in ‘Deep Tech’ startups, pathways to accelerate market access, customer/market interviews and evaluation techniques
  • Understand “The Hazards of Stealth Mode,” including when to ignore them
  • Refine product and market fit
  • Review early financing sources including grants, revenue and seed funding
  • Strategise how to attract talent to the zero-stage startup

Present your idea, and plan for the future:

  • Gain experience with producing and delivering lightning pitches
  • Understand how VCs evaluate startups
  • Learn how corporate boards look at long term investments like deep tech
  • Consider how to scale a venture from the perspective of people, process, product and growth
  • Develop a long-term funding strategy and milestone financing plan

What You Will Gain

Proof of knowledge through a Certificate of Participation issued by Imperial College Executive Education

A powerful professional network from building connections with a global cohort of leaders, influencers and programme participants


Coveted industry knowledge from market-driven curriculum designed and delivered to the standard of an elite academic institution

Acquisition and retention of new skills supported by an AI-driven learning platform, individual- and team-based programming, and individual success coaching

Your Programme Directors

David Shrier
Programme Director

Professor of Practice, AI & Innovation, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London


David is a globally recognised thought leader in technology and educational innovation. The portfolio of digital classes he created for MIT and University of Oxford has engaged more than 15,000 innovators in over 150 countries, and revolutionised the model for university short-course offerings. He is an Associate Fellow with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and a Professor of Practice (AI & Innovation) with Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London. He previously was the first and only New Ventures Officer with MIT, where he also served as a Lecturer. David has published five books in the past five years focused on technology disruption, the three most recent of which with MIT Press or Little Brown. His latest book,Augmenting Your Career: How to Win at Work in the Age of AI, was published by Little Brown in April 2021.

Christopher Tucci
Programme Director

Professor of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London


Christopher L. Tucci is Professor of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Imperial College Business School. He was Professor of Management of Technology at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he held the Chair in Corporate Strategy & Innovation. He was Dean of the College of Management from 2013-2018. In 2018, he was Visiting Thought Leader at CEIBS in Shanghai, China. He received the degrees of Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, MIT; SM (Technology & Policy) from MIT; and BS (Mathematical Sciences), AB (Music), and MS (Computer Science) from Stanford University. He was an industrial computer scientist involved in developing Internet protocols and applying artificial intelligence tools.

Professor Tucci teaches courses in Design Thinking, Digital Strategy, and Innovation Management. His primary area of interest is in how firms make transitions to new business models, technologies, and organisational forms. He also studies crowdsourcing, Internetworking, and digital innovations. He has published articles in, among others, Academy of Management Review (AMR), Strategic Management Journal, Management Science, Research Policy, Communications of the ACM, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Academy of Management Annals, and Journal of Product Innovation Management. His article with Allan Afuah, “Crowdsourcing as a solution to distant search,” won the Best Paper of 2012 for AMR. He has served in leadership positions in the Academy of Management (AOM) and the Strategic Management Society.

How You Will Learn:

  • Digital videos or audio content, augmented by material created exclusively for the course
  • Quizzes and exercises designed specifically to help you understand and retain new information
  • Dialogue with expert instructors and your peers via discussion forums and small group sessions
  • Simulations and other carefully crafted interactions to provide an engaging learning experience
  • Real-life examples that place information in context to help you understand how the concepts delivered in the programme material can be applied to your work environment
  • AI coaching to improve your and your team’s collaboration

Want to Know More?

Using live interactive tools and AI, Esme Learning is transforming the experience of group collaboration through its proprietary, breakthrough technology platform.

The most effective learning experiences occur in small groups who are engaged in problem solving, creative tasks, or complex decision making. In an online work environment, when people lack conversational cues, it’s hard for teams to build rapport and be successful.

Esme Learning’s platform changes the way team members interact in real-time, while video calls are happening. It uses AI to analyse online conversation dynamics and provide real-time personalised feedback to each participant to ensure that the exchange of ideas is not dominated by a single person, and that the conversation is as inclusive as possible. Simple on-screen cues guide participants to more effective team interactions.

You may pay your course fees in one upfront payment via credit or bank card, or you may opt to split payment in two or three installments. A 5% administrative fee will be added to any split payments. Financing options are also available for select courses and programmes. Discounts are not included in financing options. For more information, schedule a call with a learning advisor.

Future Finance Student Loans

UK, EU and international learners who are UK residents may be eligible for private student loans. Learn more

Recognising that working executives require fast and efficient methods of upgrading their skills, Esme Learning has blended art and science to produce an online learning platform that drives results.

We leverage cognitive and neuroscience research, personalised and individualised success coaching, and next-generation artificial intelligence technologies to enhance the learning experience--resulting in a course completion rate that is 30x higher than our competitors.

Helping employees upgrade their skills benefits employers and employees alike. Many organisations offer tuition reimbursement programmes as it is easier to retain top talent, and investing in up-skilling can be more cost-effective than hiring new staff. For employees, taking advantage of your employer-sponsored tuition programmes is the perfect way to build skills while also building value for your company. For a sample letter to send to your employer requesting tuition reimbursement, please reach out to one of our course advisors.

As part of our commitment to your professional development, Esme Learning offers you up to a two-week period to change your course start date or request your money back if you’re not fully satisfied.

To qualify for a deferral of your course start date, or to cancel your enrolment and receive a refund of your course fee, your request would need to reach our Success Team before the end of Module 1. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.

The Imperial Learning Experience


We create people-centric learning experiences. From conception through to delivery, we are guided by the principle that learning is a creative, personal and above all, human process. Our high quality, crafted learning environments are highly interactive, community-orientated and actively tutored. Our programmes offer an engaging experience designed to facilitate natural learning behaviours.


No compromises. Our online programmes offer the absolute equivalent of our campus-based programmes. They adopt the same rigorous academic standards, are delivered via our world-leading faculty and offer a comparable high-touch approach to the classroom experience.

The Esme Learning Way

Collaborative AI-enhanced learning

We teach executives as they work - in cross-functional teams. Learners participate in interactive simulations and team projects which reinforce applied learning and enhance collaboration and complex problem solving skills. If you are looking for an individually-paced course, this course is not for you.

improvement on completion rates compared to other online programmes