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.
The Impact Acceleration Account has six key objectives
- To increase the number of researchers and academics involved in knowledge transfer
- To improve the effectiveness of our knowledge transfer activities
- To improve communications between the research base and funders
- To establish closer working partnerships with business and with the Cambridge cluster
- To increase the success rate in commercialising research outcomes
- To increase the flow of researchers between the University and business
The next deadline for expressions of interest is 1 June 2015, and 22 June 2015 for full proposals. A further call for funding will be announced in the Michaelmas Term.
Early stage commercialisation
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.