Translational funding

Translational funding is used to ‘bridge the gap’ in development between early stage technology resulting from university research, and its commercialisation. Some funding of this type is available from us, but there are also many other translational funding streams available for academics looking to commercialise their research.

Cambridge Enterprise funding

Cambridge Enterprise has funding available to add value to inventions and new concepts that it manages. Proof of concept funding of up to £25,000 is available. Larger projects may also be supported at higher amounts. For more information on this funding, contact us.

Other sources of early-stage funding

There are many early stage funding grants available for pre-commercial development.

Funding opportunities in the Physical Sciences

Funding opportunities in the Life Sciences

Funding opportunities for spin-outs

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

BBSRC ‘Stand Alone’ Link

Life science grants Open for submissions, deadline: 24 January 2017, Decision: May 2017
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LINK supports collaborative research projects between at least one company and one academic partner. At least 50% of the full project cost comes from industry. Applications should be for pre-competitive research that would not be undertaken in this form without LINK support. Funding is only available for organisations eligible for BBSRC support.

Partners must agree ownership and exploitation of intellectual property arising from the project at the outset. An appropriate management framework must be in place with defined scientific and commercial deliverables.

Essential criteria

  • The project involves collaborative research with at least one company and one research-base partner
  • Overall Government support for a project is no more than 50%
  • The application is for research that is pre-competitive in nature
  • Arrangements for ownership and exploitation of intellectual property arising from the project have been agreed by the partners
  • The project has an appropriate management framework and both the scientific and commercial deliverables are clearly defined

More information can be found here.

BBSRC Follow-on Fund

Life science grants Open for applications
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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.

This programme includes:

  • Pathfinder Follow-on Fund (apply at any time)

Projects up to 6 months in duration

Valued at under £20k (FEC)

  • Standard Follow-on Fund (FOF)

Projects up to 12-18 months in duration

Valued at under £250k (FEC).

  • Super Follow-on Fund (SuperFOF)

Projects between 12-24 months in duration

Valued at between £0.25M and £2.0M (FEC)

Pathfinder Grants help researchers undertake the preliminary work required to put them in a position to apply for a Follow-On Fund Grant. This work typically focuses on evaluating the market potential for their research and the comparative strength of their intellectual assets and, if the technical feasibility of the project depends on it, the achievement of technical milestone 1.

A Follow-On Grant enables researchers who have a sound understanding of the market opportunity for their intellectual assets to execute a defined programme of work of up to two years in length that has clearly defined and complementary technical and business plan development milestones.

BBSRC funding is at 80% of FEC.

More information can be found here.

BBSRC Follow-on Fund Standard Scheme

Life science grants Next deadline: 11 October 2016
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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 Industrial Partnership Award

Life science grants Open for applications, deadline: 24 January 2017
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These are funded through our responsive mode grants.

Industrial Partnership Awards (IPAs) encourage and support collaboration between academic research groups and industry.

IPAs are academic-led, responsive mode grants that have significant industrial involvement and industry partner(s) contributes in cash at least equivalent to 10% of the full project costs. Additional in-kind contributions from industry are welcome but do not count against the industry contribution. Funding is only available for organisations eligible for BBSRC support.

Applications are assessed by our Research Committees, alongside standard applications, using the same criteria. IPA projects are normally funded in preference to standard grants of equivalent scientific merit.

More information can be found here.

Biomedical Catalyst: Regenerative Medicine Research Committee

Life science grants Deadline: 16 November 2016
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Supports translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health.

The translation of the burgeoning knowledge in regenerative medicine into new treatment strategies is a key objective of the MRC’s strategic plan. The Biomedical Catalyst: Regenerative Medicine Research Committee (RMRC) provides support for high quality proposals that may underpin or progress the development of  regenerative medicine therapies to improve human health.

The RMRC:

  • Supports confidence in concept studies that if successful will promote the translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health, thereby accelerating the transition from discovery research to mature translational development projects
  • Funds preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach, through addressing focussed research questions needed to unlock progress in pre-clinical development and/or early clinical testing of novel regenerative medicine therapies.

More information can be found here.

Centre for Defence Enterprise funding competitions

Physical Sciences grants Monthly closing dates
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The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research to develop capabilities for UK defence and security.

You can submit a CDE proposal for a research contract either at any time to our enduring competition, or in response to the technical challenges in a specific themed competition.

CDE is part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and funds only novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research.  If your proposal is a product, or outside of CDE’s competition space, you should speak to the Defence Suppliers’ Service, or see other ways of how to sell to Dstl.

More information can be found here.

Enterprise Europe East

Spin-out grants Open call
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Enterprise Europe East provide various sources of finance for SMEs. More information can be found here.

EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account

Life science grants Call for applications announced in Michaelmas term
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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

  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

ERC Proof of Concept

Life science grants Next deadline October 2017 - must follow on from ERC funded work
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If, as a receiver of an ERC grant, you are interested in exploring the innovation potential of your work, the ERC is here to help.

ERC Proof of Concept Grants are designed to support ERC grantees with the commercial or societal application of the results of their funded research.

ERC Proof of Concept in brief

Eligibility: all Principal Investigators benefitting from an ERC Advanced, Synergy, Consolidator or Starting Grant that is either ongoing, or where the project has ended less than 12 months before the publication date of an ERC Proof of Concept call. The Principal Investigator must be able to demonstrate the relation between the idea to be taken to proof of concept and the ERC frontier research project (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy) in question.

Funding: up to €150.000 per grant

More than one Proof of Concept Grant may be awarded per ERC funded frontier research project but only one Proof of Concept project may be running at any one time for the same ERC frontier research project.

Duration: up to 18 months

Calls for proposals: published once a year with three deadlines, a Principal Investigator may submit only one eligible application per call. Applications can be submitted at any time from the opening date of the call until the final deadline and will be evaluated and selected in three rounds, based on three specific deadlines.

ERC Proof of Concept

Physical Sciences grants Deadline October 2017: must follow on from ERC funded work
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If, as a receiver of an ERC grant, you are interested in exploring the innovation potential of your work, the ERC is here to help.

ERC Proof of Concept Grants are designed to support ERC grantees with the commercial or societal application of the results of their funded research.

ERC Proof of Concept in brief

Eligibility: all Principal Investigators benefitting from an ERC Advanced, Synergy, Consolidator or Starting Grant that is either ongoing, or where the project has ended less than 12 months before the publication date of an ERC Proof of Concept call. The Principal Investigator must be able to demonstrate the relation between the idea to be taken to proof of concept and the ERC frontier research project (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy) in question.

Funding: up to €150.000 per grant

More than one Proof of Concept Grant may be awarded per ERC funded frontier research project but only one Proof of Concept project may be running at any one time for the same ERC frontier research project.

Duration: up to 18 months

Calls for proposals: published once a year with three deadlines, a Principal Investigator may submit only one eligible application per call. Applications can be submitted at any time from the opening date of the call until the final deadline and will be evaluated and selected in three rounds, based on three specific deadlines.

More information can be found here.

i4i Challenge Awards

Life science grants The next Challenge Awards call will be launching 11 January 2017, deadline 5 April 2017.
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5th Call: Mental Health theme

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.

Essential requirements for Challenge awards

  •          Any R&D activities must be within the scope of our funding programmes (see What we fund).
  •          A minimum of two organisations must be involved.
  •          The lead organisation must be an NHS organisation or NHS service provider.
  •          Lead applicants must be based in England.
  •          Work packages must not include animal studies.
  •          Projects must be based on a working prototype or preclinically validated concept.
  •          Clinical utility studies must form an integral part of the project plan.

More information can be found here.

i4i Product Development Awards

Life science grants Opens 2 November 2016 – Deadline 14 December 2016
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Product Development awards support research and development of medical devices, active implantable devices and in vitro diagnostic devices in any area of existing or emerging clinical need. These awards comprise both early and late stages of research and development, including the clinical development of laboratory-validated technologies or interventions.

Projects must have progressed beyond basic research and have demonstrated proof-of-concept. The expected output is an advanced or clinically validated prototype medical device, technology or intervention. Lead applicants may be from academia, industry or an NHS organisation.

Essential requirements for Product Development awards

  •          Any R&D activities must be within the scope of our funding programmes (see What we fund).
  •          A minimum of two organisations must be involved.
  •          Lead applicants must be based in England or Wales.
  •          Work packages must not include animal studies.
  •          Projects must have progressed beyond basic research and have demonstrated proof-of-concept.

Further information can be found in our guidance document and here.

 

Innovate UK Funding Competitions

Life science grants Open call
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Various funding competitions – you can apply for funding to test the feasibility of your idea, research and develop it and demonstrate it in a prototype.

Innovate UK funding competitions cover the following industry sectors:

  • emerging and enabling technologies
  • infrastructure systems
  • health and life sciences
  • manufacturing and materials

More information can be found here.

Isaac Newton Trust Research Grants

Life science grants 2017 deadlines TBD – usually three rounds per year to coincide with Lent, Easter, and Michaelmas
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The Trust’s research grant policy aims are:

  1. to provide initial partner funding for new research projects, institutional projects or equipment, so that the projects can go on to apply for external funding to complete the work, or become self-sustaining in other ways.
  2. to provide emergency or bridging funding for salary costs (or occasionally equipment) for outstanding (usually peer-reviewed) projects that have run out of money through no fault of their own. The Trust is also willing to grant underwriting while the results of other applications are awaited.
  3. to help unconventional innovative science. Trustees wish to encourage applications for early-stage funding for genuinely creative and innovative early-stage research projects that are too speculative or unconventional to stand much chance of attracting institutional funding.
  4. Potential applicants seeking to make an institutional application for the promotion of education or research which could reasonably fall under the heading of a ‘Strategic Research Project‘ should consult the Director in the first instance.

More information can be found here.

Isaac Newton Trust Research Grants

Physical Sciences grants 2017 deadlines TBD – usually 3 rounds per year to coincide with Lent, Easter, and Michaelmas
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The Trust’s research grant policy aims:

  1. to provide initial partner funding for new research projects, institutional projects or equipment, so that the projects can go on to apply for external funding to complete the work, or become self-sustaining in other ways.
  2. to provide emergency or bridging funding for salary costs (or occasionally equipment) for outstanding (usually peer-reviewed) projects that have run out of money through no fault of their own. The Trust is also willing to grant underwriting while the results of other applications are awaited.
  3. to help unconventional innovative science. Trustees wish to encourage applications for early-stage funding for genuinely creative and innovative early-stage research projects that are too speculative or unconventional to stand much chance of attracting institutional funding.
  4. Potential applicants seeking to make an institutional application for the promotion of education or research which could reasonably fall under the heading of a ‘Strategic Research Project‘ should consult the Director in the first instance.

More information can be found here.

MRC – Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS)

Life science grants Deadline: 1 December 2016
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The DPFS scheme is a key part of our Translational Research Strategy and 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.

DPFS is an ongoing scheme, with outline deadlines every 4 months.

More information can be found here.

MRC Confidence in Concept scheme – Flexible institutional awards for preliminary translational work

Life science grants Deadline TBC, 2017 - contact us for more details
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The Confidence in Concept scheme provides annual awards of £250k-£1.2m to institutions, to be used flexibly to support the earliest stages of multiple translational research projects. It is intended to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach.

The Confidence in Concept Scheme is part of our translational research strategy and is a component of the MRC/Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst.

Ensuring that fundamental science is translated into new therapies, diagnostics and medical devices is central to our mission. The Confidence in Concept scheme aims to accelerate the transition from discovery science to the early stages of therapeutic/biomarker development by providing locally-administered, responsive and flexible funding to support preliminary translational work.

The award can be used flexibly by the institution to support a number of preliminary-stage translational projects. The projects supported should aim to provide sufficient preliminary data to establish the viability of an approach –– before seeking more substantive funding (e.g. from the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS).

NanoDTC Translational Prize

Physical Sciences grants Deadline TBC
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The NanoDTC Translational Prize Fellowship is awarded to exceptional NanoDTC Students and Associates to carry out projects which enable the translation of cutting edge nanoscience research to higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). Awardees interact strongly with industry during the award, to help the development of technologies that are commercially viable and relevant.

Selection of awardees for the Translational Prize is done through a 2-stage competitive process involving a presentation to NanoDTC community at the first stage, and a written application at the final stage. Each application is assessed by a multidisciplinary panel comprising of academics and individuals with business experience.

Applications for the next round of the Translation Prize will be invited in October 2016. Applicants can apply individually or as a team of two. Cambridge PhD students who are not currently connected to the NanoDTC can apply if they team up with a current NanoDTC Student or Associate.

More information can be found here.

NERC Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme

Physical Sciences grants Not currently open for applications: next deadline likely to be June 2017
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Decision-makers are increasingly faced with the challenge of making our infrastructure resilient and mitigating the effects of extreme weather events and climate change. There is a wealth of data, knowledge and expertise in the UK research base which could address this challenge but this valuable resource is often difficult to access and requires translating to be more readily used.

The Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme is a five-year, £5m initiative, which will be driven by the needs of the business community and decision-makers. It will provide sound evidence for the identification and assessment of environmental risks and their impacts on infrastructure, translating the latest research into industry-relevant outputs.

Contacts

For further information on the Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme contact Kay Heuser.

If your company is interested in joining the Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme please contact Ruth Hughes or Kay Heuser to discuss membership.

More information can be found here.

NERC Environmental Science Impact Programme

Physical Sciences grants No further calls currently announced, next call likely to be March 2017.
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Awards totalling £2·5-£5m are available to research organisations over five years to boost impact from NERC environmental science.

The Environmental Science Impact Programme (ESIP) is dedicated to bringing research organisations together with businesses, policy bodies and other actors contributing to economic development specific to their location to deliver significant regional impact from NERC environmental science.

NERC invites research organisations with a strong and substantial portfolio of NERC funded research to apply through ESIP calls for a five year programme of activity with an overall value of between £2·5-£5m.

NERC Follow-on Fund

Physical Sciences grants Deadline likely to be September 2017
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NERC works together with universities and research centres to sustain world-leading research that delivers value and impact for the UK economy and society. The Follow-on Fund is a ‘proof of concept’ fund to support the commercialisation of ideas arising from that NERC-funded research.

As the name suggests, the Follow-on Fund picks up where research programme and discovery science (responsive mode) grants leave off and enables those research outputs to be further developed so their commercial potential can be realised.

Examples of activities funded include technology licensing, launching technology-based products or services, selling know-how based consultancy services, and the commercialisation of NERC-funded datasets. Proposals are invited for projects pursuing any of these approaches or, indeed, others.

NERC Follow-on Fund Pathfinder

Physical Sciences grants Open call
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Pathfinder awards complement Follow-on awards.

Follow-on awards of up to £250k FEC fund development projects whose objective is to realise the commercial potential of NERC-funded research via a combination of complementary technical and commercial engagement work programmes.

Successful applications to the Follow-on Fund are invariably built upon a good understanding of the likely market potential for the technology around which the project is based.

If you are confident that you already have a sound assessment of these, and the other, issues described in Follow-on Fund – Guidance for applicants, you are ready to submit an application to the Follow-on Fund.

If, however, there are gaps in your knowledge, you are strongly advised to first apply for a Pathfinder award.

This will give you the best possible opportunity to secure Follow-on funding by enabling you to carry out work that will help you develop a greater understanding of the commercial aspects and possibilities of your research, and hence produce a more robust, better informed proposal for Follow-on funding.

More information can be found here.

NERC Highlight topics

Physical Sciences grants Deadline: 16 May 2017
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A highlight topic focuses strategic research on a defined subject area. The size and duration of projects will be specified for each highlight topic, up to the value of £4m and four years in length.

This page outlines the science prioritised through the highlight topics mechanism.

NERC invites the environmental science community to submit new ideas for highlight topics.

More information can be found here.

NERC Technology Proof of Concept

Physical Sciences grants Deadline: 17 February 2017
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No further calls currently planned.

The Technologies Proof of Concept programme is a NERC research programme that will support the development of new and innovative technologies for environmental science. The programme initially ran from 2008-2012. NERC has now launched a second five-year phase of the programme (2014-2018). The programme will provide funding for proof of concept projects at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1 to 4. A broad range of projects across the NERC remit are considered suitable for this programme (from paper studies to laboratory experiments).