Translational funding

There are many different development funding streams available for academics looking to commercialise their research.

Proof of concept funding

Cambridge Enterprise has funding available to provide early stage support for inventions and new concepts where there is commercial potential. Funding of up to £25,000 is available. Larger projects may also be supported at higher amounts. For more information on the proof of concept funding, contact a member of the Cambridge Enterprise Technology Transfer team.

EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded the University an Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), to promote wider and more effective engagement with the impact agenda. The IAA provides the University with resources to deliver impact and work on the exploitation of outcomes from its EPSRC research portfolio, with the key objective of shortening the time to impact. The IAA brings together a number of previous initiatives to provide more flexibility, including support for secondments, early stage commercialisation, developing new partnerships and reaching out to researchers who do not normally engage in commercialisation activities.

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The Impact Acceleration Account has six key objectives

  1. To increase the number of researchers and academics involved in knowledge transfer
  2. To improve the effectiveness of our knowledge transfer activities
  3. To improve communications between the research base and funders
  4. To establish closer working partnerships with business and with the Cambridge cluster
  5. To increase the success rate in commercialising research outcomes
  6. To increase the flow of researchers between the University and business

IAA Funding

A call for funding will be announced in the Michaelmas Term.

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Early stage commercialisation

Technology Roadmapping

The Institute for Manufacturing has established a programme for teaching technology roadmapping (TRM) tools that provide a powerful approach to articulating future research developments and candidate commercial exploitation routes in a way that enrols stakeholders and builds commitment.

Funds are available within the EPSRC IAA for research groups to access roadmapping. Interested academics and researchers should make contact for more information.

Follow-on Fund (incorporating PhD Plus)

The Follow-on Fund is designed to support the early stage development of technology to make the idea more attractive for commercial investment. The Fund is open to develop ideas which have arisen from EPSRC-funded research, which may be either research grants or studentships. More information can be found here.

Strategic engagement with business

Partnership Development Awards

Partnership Development Awards are available to pump-prime collaborations with industry partners. The fund is open to research projects within the EPSRC remit which will kickstart collaborations with companies who have significant potential to become future business partners for the University. More information can be found here.

Flexible support for secondments and placements

Knowledge Transfer Fellowships

Funds are available to support 3–12 month Knowledge Transfer Fellowships. Each Fellowship will transfer knowledge and expertise linked to EPSRC research between the University and a partner organisation. The Fellowship will fund a researcher or member of academic staff to undertake a placement within a business or other partner organisation. Fellowships are also open to company employees to spend time working in a University department to facilitate knowledge transfer. More information can be found here.

Other early stage funding sources

There are many early stage funding grants available for pre-commercial development. The following is a partial list of grants. The next funding call for the Follow-on Fund, Knowledge Transfer Fellowships and Partnership Development Awards was released during Easter Term 2015, for projects to start on or after 1 October 2015.

Image: Staircase at the Department of Engineering, by Sir Cam, courtesy the University of Cambridge, all rights reserved.

BBSRC and Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowships

Next deadline: 4 November 2015
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Funded by BBSRC and delivered by the Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowships, these are designed to encourage the development of a new business, building on previously funded BBSRC research, around a technological idea developed by the Fellow (either individually or with others) and within which the Fellow would be expected to play a leading (though not necessarily the leading) role. This award is of particular relevance to individuals and ideas who previously received BBSRC Follow-on Funding (although not exclusively).

The Fellowships provide:

  • a year’s salary to provide time to develop a full business plan and seek investment
  • access to mentors, business experts and professional advisors
  • business training to help develop the required skills.

Eligibility
Academic and research staff and postgraduates with relevant experience are eligible to apply if employed by a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), or an Institute of BBSRC.

BBSRC Follow-on Fund Pathfinder Scheme

Open call
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The Follow-on funding programme is designed to support the translation of fundamental research funded by us into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research.

This programme is a proof of concept model where further work on an idea will take it through to the stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include a spin-out or licensing opportunity. The programme enables activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress.

Pathfinder Follow-on Fund

  • Projects up to six months in duration
  • Valued at under £20,000 (100% FEC)

BBSRC Follow-on Fund Standard Scheme

Open call
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The Follow-on funding programme is designed to support the translation of fundamental research funded by us into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research.

This programme is a proof of concept model where further work on an idea will take it through to the stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include a spin-out or licensing opportunity. The programme enables activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress.

Standard Follow-on Fund (FOF)

  • Projects up to 12–18 months in duration
  • Valued at under £250,000 (100% FEC)

BBSRC Super Follow-on Fund (SuperFOF)

Open call
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The Follow-on funding programme is designed to support the translation of fundamental research funded by us into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research.

This programme is a proof of concept model where further work on an idea will take it through to the stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include a spin-out or licensing opportunity. The programme enables activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress.

Super Follow-on Fund (SuperFOF)

  • Projects between 12–24 months in duration
  • Valued at between £0.25 million and £2 million (100% FEC)
  • Applications are by invitation only, following an outline phase

European Chemical Industry Council – various calls

Open call
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Through its Long-range Research Initiative, the European Chemical Industry Council has tendered for research in the following areas:

  • critical review of epidemiological evidence for the potential association between endocrine active chemical and obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; award funding: €100,000 over 4–5 months
  • contribution of dust to human exposure; award funding: €350,000 over two years
  • development of an alternative testing strategy for the fish early life-stage test – OECD 210; award funding: €500,000 over three years
  • development of an in silico model of dermal absorption; award funding: €500,000 over three years
  • development of an integrated approach to predict internal exposure to chemicals; award funding: €300,000 over two years
  • foresight study on introduction of new technologies – the case of nanotechnology; award funding: €150,000 over one year
  • mechanistic bioaccumulation models for ionogenic organic substances in fish; award funding: €300,000 over two years
  • towards more ecologically realistic assessment of chemicals in the environment; award funding: €500,000 and €700,000 over 3–4 years.

These awards are fixed-price contracts between the Council and the awardee.

Eligibility

Applicants should provide an indication of additional partners and funding opportunities that can be leveraged as part of their proposal.

Innovate UK

Open call
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Innovate UK supports and connects innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth. You can read about its responsibilities and plans on GOV.UK.

MRC – Industry Collaboration Agreement

Open call
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Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA.

MICA is not a scheme in itself, but a mechanism to support the establishment of an agreement between academic and industry research partners, which can be applied to the majority of MRC’s funding schemes and calls. (To find out if you can apply a MICA to your proposal, please refer to your specific scheme or call.)

MICA facilitates collaboration as it allows partners to work out and clearly specify arrangements for relative responsibilities, governance, regulatory approvals, indemnity, intellectual property rights, reporting, and access to data and samples before a project starts. In addition, MICAs help to establish that proposed collaboration arrangements are eligible under EU State-Aid regulations for MRC funding.

MRC Biomedical Catalyst – Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme

Next deadline: 28 July 2015
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The DPFS scheme is a key part of the MRC’s Translational Research Strategy and supports the translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health. It funds the preclinical development and early clinical testing of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics, including ‘repurposing’ of existing therapies.

DPFS is an ongoing scheme, with outline deadlines every four months.

NIHR – i4i Challenge awards

Open call
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Challenge awards are based on themed calls in areas of existing or emerging healthcare need.

These late stage awards must comprise the clinical development of laboratory-validated technologies or interventions, requiring minimal preclinical development. Applications must be based on a working prototype or proven concept with a strong evidence base.

Minor or incremental changes to technologies in current clinical use are outside the remit of i4i Challenge awards. The expected output is a disruptive technology with the potential to offer improved outcomes for NHS patients.

Lead applicants must be from NHS organisations or other NHS service providers.

The Royal Society – Brian Mercer Feasibility Award

Open call
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The Brian Mercer Feasibility Award aims to provide initial support to test the feasibility of a project and enable holders to investigate the technical and economical feasibility of commercialising an aspect of their scientific research, possibly in conjunction with a third party. These awards are designed to promote innovation and are intended to fill the funding gap between the scientific research and the exploitation of the idea through venture capital. The scheme covers the built environment, clean technology, energy and nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Wellcome Trust – Seeding Drug Discovery

Open call
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Funding to facilitate early stage small-molecule drug discovery. The awards help applicants with a potential drug target or new chemistry embark on a programme of compound discovery and/or take later stage projects towards clinical trials.

Wellcome Trust – Strategic Translation Awards

Open call
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Invited applications can be made for applied R&D projects that are close to existing Wellcome Trust interests. For example, these may build on Trust initiatives in basic science, such as genome-wide association studies, healthcare in low and middle income countries, or in research areas such as malaria, typhoid or TB.