There are many different 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 for which commercial potential has been identified.
Funding of up to £25,000 is available, and exceptional larger projects may also be supported. For more information on the Proof of Concept funding, please contact a member of the Cambridge Enterprise team.
Early stage funding sources
There are many early stage grants currently available and it is impossible to provide an exhaustive list. The following provides information on some grants, and does not purport to be an exhaustive reference source of early stage funding options. Please select your area of interest from the categories at right, or use the search function to find the type of funding you are looking for.
The Translational Stem Cell Research Committee (TSCRC) has been established to fund investigator-led research proposals that have clear translational goals, and will consider applications from across the UK. The funding mechanism will also provide a platform for partnership funding which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Therapeutics, Devices and Diagnostics Development
The Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme/Developmental Clinical Studies scheme (DPFS/DCS) supports the translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health. It funds the pre-clinical development and early clinical testing of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics, including “repurposing” of existing therapies.
The DPFS/DCS scheme combines the previous individual translational funding schemes, permitting a more flexible and integrated approach to the development of new interventions and diagnostics. This scheme forms part of the MRC’s Translational Research Strategy.
Feasibility studies, pilot studies and Phase II trials are viewed as purpose-driven preparatory studies, essential for determining the most appropriate questions for the next generation of Phase III trials. The Feasibility Study Project Grants scheme funds studies testing aspects of feasibility or tolerability and/or efficacy.
Cancer Research UK accepts investigator-led studies, except first in man studies, including:
- Single or multi-centre prospective therapeutic (IMP and non-IMP), diagnostic or prevention phase II studies testing aspects of feasibility, tolerability and/or efficacy. Trials may involve more than one NCRN network, or several centres within a network.
- Academically-led feasibility studies in receipt of educational grants or free drugs from the pharmaceutical industry can be submitted for endorsement (industry-sponsored trials cannot be reviewed under this scheme).
Research projects with an emphasis on (1) novel and emerging technologies and (2) their application to cardiovascular disease prevention and/or treatment, which can be expected to benefit patients within a foreseeable timeframe, will be considered. Appropriate approaches include tissue and bioengineering, the development and evaluation of new diagnostic and therapeutic devices, bioimaging, nanotechnology, biomaterials, genomic and proteomic approaches, computational biology and bioinformatics. NET Grants are not appropriate for funding clinical trials.
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.
Through its Long-range Research Initiative, the European Chemical Industry 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.
The BBSRC new pathfinder scheme enables potential follow-on funding applicants to secure small amounts of funding to carry out preliminary commercial activities.
The Brian Mercer Feasibility Awards aim 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.
Funded by BBSRC and delivered by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Enterprise Fellowships 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).
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
Academic and research staff and postgraduates with relevant experience are eligible to apply if employed by a:
UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), or
Institutes of BBSRC
Invited applications 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 areas like malaria, typhoid or TB.