Investor and Entrepreneur Alex van Someren Appointed Visiting Clore Innovation Professor

The Royal College of Art is delighted to welcome Alex van Someren, of Amadeus Capital Partners, to InnovationRCA as its Visiting Clore Innovation Professor. In this role, Alex will inspire entrepreneurship and provide counsel to the College’s dedicated business acceleration and incubation centre.

InnovationRCA, based in the Clore Innovation Centre in Battersea, is the College’s centre for enterprise, entrepreneurship and intellectual property commercialisation. InnovationRCA has generated more start-ups than any other UK university, including Oxford and Cambridge, and in the past ten years its start-ups and spin-outs have generated £58 million turn-over and created over 600 jobs in the UK. 

Each year the centre provides start-up incubation services to help exceptional graduates with compelling ideas rapidly transform into profitable and investable businesses. The centre also incubates and manages the commercialisation of intellectual property created by graduates and staff helping them secure licenses and bring their products to market.

Dr Nadia Danhash, Director of InnovationRCA, commented: ‘We are honoured to welcome Alex as our Visiting Clore Innovation Professor. He’s a serial founder and his experience investing in high-tech companies will be hugely valuable to us and the spin-outs we support.’

Alex is Managing Partner of the Early Stage Funds at Amadeus Capital Partners – a global technology investor – and sits on the boards of several Amadeus portfolio companies. His current investment focus is on UK deep technology including artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing and enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cyber security, digital healthcare, medical technology and optical and quantum technologies. Alex is a co-founder of CyLon Europe’s first cyber security accelerator programme.

Discussing his appointment, Alex commented: ‘In my day job as an investor, I’m lucky to meet many bright people with great ideas. I find though that creative innovators often need help to understand and realise the potential of those ideas. That’s where Innovation RCA comes in. I hope my experience can help others as they take the entrepreneurial plunge.’

Alex left school to join Acorn Computers in the 1980s, where he was involved in the development of the BBC Microcomputer and Acorn Electron. He subsequently co-founded ANT Ltd in 1990 to produce networking products, including web browser software licensed to the Oracle Corporation. ANT plc was listed on the London AIM market (AIM:ANTP) in 2005 and later acquired by Espial.

In 1996 Alex co-founded nCipher with venture capital backing to develop internet security products using advanced cryptography. The company became a world leader in IT security, counting major banks, finance companies and governments among its customers. As nCipher’s CEO he raised a total of £14 million in venture capital funding before leading the company to an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2000 (LSE:NCH) at a £350 million valuation. nCipher plc was sold to Thales SA in 2008 and is now Thales e-Security.

During 2019, alongside holding the Visiting Clore Innovation Professorship at the RCA, Alex will be a member of the Royal Society’s Science, Industry and Translation Committee. Alex was appointed Entrepreneur in Residence at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge in 2005, and he is currently Chairman of the Development Committee of Kettle’s Yard, one of the University of Cambridge Museums.

Alex van Someren takes over the role of Visiting Clore Innovation Professor from Bernard Liautaud, who was the inaugural Visiting Clore Innovation Professor from 2017–18. InnovationRCA is extremely grateful to Bernard for his year in this honorary role, during which time he delivered a series of insightful masterclass workshops for the Centre’s start-ups alongside a public seminar. The Visiting Clore Innovation Professorship is generously supported by the Clore Duffield Foundation, which also supported the creation of the Clore Innovation Centre.

InnovationRCA is central to the expansion of the RCA's Battersea South campus, which will provide double the current space for the Clore Innovation Centre, housing twice the number of start-up companies. Previous successes include ROLI, Loowatt and Plumis.