If you are looking to make your idea a reality, experiment and innovate, then look no further! Develop new skills and put your theories to the test and apply for the Hackstarter programme!

Kindly supported by Thermo Fisher Scientific

Programme Overview

What is Hackstarter?

The Hackstarter programme has been designed to turn your inspiring, inventive and entrepreneurial ideas into a reality, providing early stage ideas with the necessary cash boost (grant funding) to get off the ground.

We’ve got 15 funding awards available – and you can apply individually or in teams to receive up to £500-to develop a product prototype at the Hackspace.

Not only do you get the cash, you’ll also have access to the Advanced Hackspace – three purpose designed prototyping and fabrication spaces all under one roof; Electronics and Digital Manufacturing Workshop, Biochemistry Lab and Mechanical Workshop; as well as dedicated technical support and guidance from our team of Hack Fellows and Hackspace experts.

Multus Media team working in the lab

Entry requirements

  • You can apply as an individual, or in a team of up to five people.
  • Your team lead must be a current registered Imperial College London student studying an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification. 
  • You must not have previously received any seed or grant funding for the idea you are entering.
  • External applications will not be accepted. 


You can find more information on our entry requirements in our programme terms and conditions.

Key dates

28 November

Deadline for all Hackstarter applications. Application deadline is midnight on Sunday 28th November 2021.

Week Commencing 6 December
2021-22 Hackstarter Cohort announced.
9 December
Welcome and Programme Orientation Session

All successful participants/teams will attend an induction session at the Hackspace to meet the cohort and Hackspace Team. All teams will receive an introduction to the programme, what to expect, and key upcoming dates.

Week commencing 10 January
Group Workshop 

All programme participants to attend a group workshop, introducing you to the fundamentals of planning your product development roadmap.

Week commencing 21 February
Peer Review Session

All participants/teams will present to the cohort their progress and prototyping journey so far, learnings and next steps.

Week Commencing 7 March
Expert Coaching Sessions

Teams to attend expert coaching sessions. Online bookable slots will be made available when you join the programme.

Week Commencing 21 March
Final Development Plan Review

Teams to attend final development plan check-in session. (Online) bookable slots will be made available when you join the programme.

June 2022
Final Showcase

All teams to be available to attend final showcase/demo day. Date to be confirmed for June 2022.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme you’ll have learnt how to:

Develop an idea from first concept to a prototype


Develop new hardware skills and approaches to design (physical) prototypes


Design prototyping experiments to help validate, refine or discredit an idea quickly


Understand what the next steps are in your development journey


Take a look at the brilliant initiatives from our 2022 cohort!


A more resourceful way for developing countries to transport water Find out more

Ultima Thule Speculum

Bringing Speculum design into the 21st century Find out more


A new device design to continuously monitor microplastic levels in water sources Find out more

Universal Automated Emergency Call Device

Making automatic emergency calling available to all modes of transport Find out more


An open-sourced approach to bring better brewing to small-scale beer producers Find out more


Innovating blood sugar monitoring using a microneedle-based glucose sensor Find out more

Volumetric Screen

A true 3D display for more immersive cinematic and gaming experiences Find out more


Better contact tracing Find out more

Mycelium Leather Bioreactor

A novel approach to non-animal leather manufacture Find out more


An app that saves doctors valuable time in identifying and treating non-critical ... Find out more

Robotic Quadruped Platform

A more cost-effective way to design human compatible robots Find out more


A better way to track fitness and help users stay motivated Find out more


Don’t just take our word for it

Need more inspiration? Read more about previous teams who have benefited from support and a cash boost to make their ideas a reality!


“Imperial Advanced Hackspace helped FreshCheck make our first prototype by giving us a £500 grant to purchase the required chemicals and, most importantly, by providing labspace in which we could operate. Without the space and freedom to develop and iterate our prototypes we would not be where we are today.”

Alex Bond, John Simpson, Robert Peach, Co-Founders FreshCheck


“The Hackspace supported BladeBUG when the concept was nothing more than just an idea. It provided space to work and turn the idea into reality.”

Chris Cieslak, Founder & CEO, BladeBUG

VUI Diagnostics

“Advanced Hackspace has been pivotal to the progress of VUI Diagnostics by providing us with the space and rapid prototyping resources to develop the concept for our product. Thanks to the support, both monetary and technical, we have been able to iteratively develop and overcome failure in the design process earlier.”

Simon Rabinowicz​, Uddhav Vaghela, ​​Co-Founders​ VUI Diagnostics


Can I submit several projects?

Yes, you can submit several ideas. However, only one idea will be taken forward to the full programme if you are selected.

Do you take any equity in my team/company?
No. We’ve designed this programme to give you the skills and support you need to bring your idea to life.
When can I expect a reply regarding my application?
We aim to let all our all applicants know if they’ve been accepted onto the programme by 5pm on 6 December.
Can I speak to someone about my idea?

Yes, if you have any questions please get in touch with Olivia Brown [email protected] or book a Hack Surgery to discuss your idea for the Hackstarter programme.

What are the terms and conditions?

You can find the programme terms and conditions here.

How to apply

Applications for Hackstarter are now closed.

hand working on electronic components