From developing a floating solar farm, to championing early career artists, to operating one of the world’s most popular online games, seven of UCL’s alumni have earned a place in Forbes’ annual Top 30 Under 30 list of leading entrepreneurs and creatives in Europe.
The list is now in its eighth year, with members of UCL’s enterprising community consistently featured. This year, the seven individuals feature in five of the 10 total categories, which span Art & Culture through to Science & Technology.
Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) said: "I’d like to congratulate all the UCL alumni who are recognised in Forbes’ prestigious list. They are testament to the incredible diversity of talent, creativity and ideas that come from UCL, and their achievements reflect UCL’s thriving entrepreneurial community. I wish them every success in their future endeavours."
EntertainmentSneha Shah (UCL History of Art 2019) made the entertainment list as the founder of Curaty, a company which leases and sells curated fine art by early-career artists through its bespoke curatorial services, including art experiences, rental and advisory across the UK and India. Curaty has built 16 art collections and expects revenue to nearly triple this year.
Some of Sneha’s work is on the walls at BaseKX, UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise who supported Sneha with business advice, mentorship and the right environment to structure and grow her company further.
Sneha said: "I’m extremely honoured to be recognised in the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list. I founded Curaty to be a socially conscious art advisory firm with a mission to champion talented early-career artists and ensure they are paid.
"UCL was not only our incubator but also our second client, demonstrating their commitment to supporting and empowering startups."
Roisin Tapponi (UCL BA Comparative Literature 2020 and MA Art History, Criticism and Conservation 2021) was listed in the entertainment category as the founder of Shasha Movies, a global streaming service for southwest Asian and north African diverse films that are often censored in their own regions.
FinanceArfa Karani (UCL MSci Physics 2015) made the finance list as an investor at Klima, the energy fund for the international financial services firm, Alantra. Her team expects to invest more than $220m (£192m) over the coming years in energy transition technologies. Arfa previously invested in energy companies for the venture team at Equinor, the $90bn (£76bn) market cap Norwegian energy giant.
Social impactPaul Rutten (UCL BSc Biochemistry 2015) was recognised in the social impact list as the Founder of Concert Bio, a biotech platform to harness microbiomes, the most important ecosystem on Earth. Concert Bio’s starting point is soilless agriculture, meaning growing plants without soil, such as in hydroponic greenhouses and vertical farms. Concert Bio has raised $1.7m (£1.3m) in a pre-seed round in April 2022, and another $1.2m (£1m) in government grants since then.
Sports and GamesDavid Zuo, (UCL MSc Information Science 2019) made the Sports and Games list as Product Manager of Epic Games, a leading interactive entertainment company and provider of 3D engine technology. Epic operates Fortnite, one of the world’s largest games with over 350 million accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections. David was a product manager on "Fall Guys," which had one of the most successful game launches in history, with over 50 million players in its first two weeks and is a guest lecturer at UCL for BSc Management for Business Cohort.
Science and HealthcareLuofeng Huang (UCL Masters and PhD in Mechanical Engineering 2020) was highlighted by Forbes in the Science and Healthcare list and is an assistant professor at Cranfield University, where he researches renewable energy systems. Armed with a $360,000 (£299,152) grant from Innovate UK, he is leading a team developing a floating solar farm that can overcome tough ocean waves, Solar2Wave, to help bring energy to remote islands in Indonesia. Luofeng is a currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at UCL.
Reece Samani (UCL MPharm, Pharmacy 2015) was also named on the science list as the Founder of Signature Pharmacy and SignatureRX, an online pharmacy that also offers next-day prescription delivery service. In December 2022 more than 45,000 prescriptions were issued at pharmacies using his company’s tools and more than 5,000 prescriptions were delivered across the UK. He says the company is on track to hit $2m (£1.6m) in revenue this year.
The sector-leading work of the UCL alumni highlighted by Forbes reflect and reinforce UCL’s continued pursuit of excellence and commitment to making a positive impact on real world problems through innovative international activities.
UCL has a thriving entrepreneurial community creating start-ups that attract millions of pounds of investment, creating jobs and spearheading innovation that boosts the UK economy. In total, over 400 new graduate businesses were started at UCL between 2014 and 2022. Collectively they have raised over £300m in investment and currently employ over 1700 people.