Creative Destruction Lab Student Programme

Creative Destruction Lab Logo

The Student Programme is designed to expose you to the world of entrepreneurship and provide an opportunity to interact with early-stage, science-based companies. You will work with technical founders admitted to the Creative Destruction Lab programme (CDL) on bespoke challenges, such as developing financial models, evaluating potential markets or fine-tune strategies for scaling.

The programme introduces students to the context, decision-making principles, and practices of equity investing for supporting the growth and development of early-stage high-potential technology ventures.

Delegates talking

The programme

Who is it for?

MBA candidates, as well as all other students from across the University of Oxford.

When does the programme take place?

October 2020 - April 2021. 


  • Workshops - A series of Creative Destruction Technology workshops introducing the concepts of how science and technology (including AI and MedTech) disrupts business. They will introduce you to some of the breakthroughs in science at Oxford and beyond, and explain how this is impacting business and industry structures.
  • Sessions - All ventures admitted to the programme attend up to ​four CDL-Oxford sessions, spread approximately eight weeks apart. These intense, day-long events include ​small-group meetings with mentors in order to formulate three draft objectives for the venture to sprint towards over the following eight weeks. Subsequently, all mentors convene in a ​large-group discussion during which each venture is presented, and its prospective objectives debated and finalised. 

Session #1 – All students admitted to the programme can sign up to shadow a mentor for the ​small-group meetings and they will also observe the ​large-group discussion​. Session #1 will take place virtually.

Sessions #2-4 – students will attend the ​small-group meetings with their assigned venture, provided the ventures give their consent; students are also invited to observe the large-group discussion and deliberations for all virtual sessions, and subject to room availability, some of the in-person sessions.

  • Student debriefs - ​The Friday after ​Sessions #1 - #4, you will meet with the stream moderators and the CDL team, to debrief the session and draw out key learnings by interpreting the large-room discussions.
  • Tutorials - You will work in teams of 2-3 people. You will receive team-based tutoring throughout the process, consisting of two tutorials of 60 mins each. The tutor’s role is to guide the teams to gain the best experience from working with the venture, as well as offering guidance and feedback on the consulting projects. Exact tutorials times and locations are to be determined with the individual tutors.
  • Final presentations - You will present your work to a group of CDL Stakeholders - Moderators, Tutors, CDL Team. Venture founders will also be invited to join.

Programme requirements

  • Attendance – You are expected to attend all the workshops, online sessions, debriefs and tutorials. You will be responsible for meeting and communicating with your assigned venture in between these dates.
  • Commitment – Beyond workshops, session days and tutorials, we estimate you will spend approximately 40 hours doing research for the Venture Consulting Projects.
  • Venture consulting projects ​– Each student team will be working on a bespoke consulting project described below. Suggested project options​.


Q. Is this a curricular or co-curricular course?

Currently, this programme does not count towards a grade or credit and you commit your time on a ​voluntary basis​. However, we still expect a high grade of excellence and commitment if selected.

Q. Are students able to participate in CDL as well as other co-curricular activities​?

In most cases participating in CDL alongside other co-curricular activities is feasible, however, once matched with a venture the time commitment is slightly higher, approximately 40 hours over Hilary and Trinity terms. This excludes sessions, debrief sessions and tutorials.

Q. Are CDL-Oxford Sessions full-day events?

There will be three virtual sessions and one in-person session at the following times: 8AM - 1.30PM BST (Shift 1) and 1.3PM - 6PM BST (Shift 2). You can choose to join the live session suitable to the time zone you are in. After being matched with a venture, you should aim to attend the same shift as them.


  • Wednesday 16 October 2020 - Introduction to CDL session, open to everyone to attend
  • Tuesday 20​ October 2020, 5pm BST​ - Applications open 

Creative Destruction Lab - Oxford

artificial intelligence

The first CDL site in Europe

The Creative Destruction Lab is a non-profit organisation that delivers an objectives-based programme for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. Its nine-month program allows founders to learn from experienced entrepreneurs, increasing their likelihood of success. CDL operates in 8 sites, each tied to a business school.

CDL-Oxford is hosted at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, and is the first CDL site in Europe. The site offers the Artificial Intelligence and the Health streams.



Students who have participated in the inaugural year have shared their experiences and reflections, and we think it speaks volumes of the value added by the CDL Student Programme to their learning. Any background and career ambitions can benefit from the experience of working with entrepreneurs and mentors. 

Lillian Elsner, 2019/20 MBA Candidate

CDL demystified the pitching process. I learned more in a few hours from mentors and founders alike than in weeks of book study, and realized, powerfully, I could be part of this world too.

I’ve personally gained a step-change in my instincts for a potentially successful team, strategy and technology application by having an exclusive view of how experienced investors and operators quickly analyse tech startups.

Tshwanelo Matsane

2019/20 MBA Candidate

Jessica Ramalhete, 2019/20 MBA Candidate

CDL is a phenomenal program. The exposure to cutting- edge technology matched with the real-time business acumen of seasoned investors, all progressing at a whirlwind pace, makes me feel like every synapse in my brain is firing. I love it.

CDL gave me the unique opportunity to think like an early-stage investor by taking part in investor-founder discussions. In parallel, I was able to apply my learnings in real-time by advising the founders of a cutting-edge biotech start-up.

Robert Forestell

2019/20 MBA Candidate

Students blog posts

Mark Ang, Undergraduate student - 2018 | Rotman School of Management


Iulia Pop, Programme Manager

+44 (0) 7860 778883