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.

Alzheimer’s Research UK Grant schemes

Life science grants Various dates

Alzheimer’s Research UK has a large number of different grant schemes through which you can apply for funding.

A brief overview of each of our schemes can be found below, with examples of some of our currently funded projects on the Research portfolio page.

Applications are made via our grant application website.

All applications must fall within Alzheimer’s Research UK’s remit which covers biomedical research in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Alzheimer’s Research UK funds research into cause, diagnosis/detection, prevention and treatment (disease modifying and symptomatic). Of particular importance is research which has translational potential for patient benefit. This includes basic preclinical as well as clinical research, but not care or service delivery research.

Get the latest grant deadlines and news about our grant schemes delivered direct to your inbox, sign up for our e-newsletter for researchers and professionals.

BBSRC ‘Stand Alone’ Link

Life science grants Deadline: 16 January 2019 at 16.00

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 Next call open on 23 January 2019

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 Currently closed. Next round TBD

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 Deadline: 16 January 2019 at 16.00

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: 01 February 2018, next round 22 May & 05 October 2018

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.


  • 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.

British Heart Foundation

Life science grants Preliminary outline deadline 15 April 2019, full application deadline 11 September 2019

Translational Awards

To support the pre-clinical development of new cardiovascular medicines and technologies so that they are attractive for follow-on funding.

The award will help to bridge the funding gap between promising innovations and the clinic with the aim of accelerating advances in cardiovascular science for patient benefit.

More information can be found here

Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery

Life science grants Various dates

Cancer Research UK Funding Schemes

Life science grants Various dates

Catapult Researchers in Residence Programme

Physical Sciences grants The programme will run until March 2023, with two RiRs announcements of opportunity each year, with the last RiR opportunity announced in January 2019.

To help increase the connections between the UK research base and the Catapults, Research Councils UK* (RCUK) is supporting the development of new collaborations through research visits/residencies for university (and other eligible research organisations) academics to spend time embedded within the Catapult teams.

Catapult Researchers in Residence (RiR) Awards will build connections, support pathways to impact and knowledge exchange between academia and the Catapult centres.  As such, the Catapults have been awarded vouchers (assigned to the Catapults but paid directly to universities or other research organisations) to support a range of activities to accelerate the impact of Research Council (RC)-funded research and/or expand the capabilities of their centre.

This initiative aligns strongly with RCUK’s excellence with impact, through building stronger partnerships in the national innovatio system and supporting the best environment for innovation.

Aims of the Scheme

The aims of RiR initiative are to:

  • Accelerate the impact of RC-funded research
  • Increase knowledge exchange and co-creation between academia and Catapult centres
  • Develop new collaborations between academia and Catapult centres
  • Expand the capabilities and knowledge of the Catapults
  • Nurturing talents and skills development of researchers and Catapult staff
  • Create a cohort of RiRs able to share their experiences with a wider network of academics.


The value of each voucher towards supporting a RiR is up to £50k (100% FEC), which may be flexibly spread between one and four years. Funding will be awarded directly to the RiR’s host university (or other eligible research organisation) and not the Catapult. The award can only be used to cover the salary costs for the visit of each RiR, travel and subsistence costs, and any consumables used at the Catapult.

Any other costs (e.g. equipment/service costs, technician time, etc.) will be covered by the host Catapult within reasonable limits and pre-agreed with the host Catapult.


The programme will run until March 2023, with two RiRs announcements of opportunity each year, with the last RiR opportunity announced in January 2019. 

How to Apply

Applications for RiR should be made by using this webform and uploading a completed Application Form, CV and Letter of Supports from your institution.

Application Guidance and Impact Report Guidance have been provided.

Please note that submissions made after 5 pm on the closing date will not be accepted. 

Information Documents

Applicant Guidance

Impact Report Guidance

Application Form



CW Discovering Startups Competition

Early Stage Funding Sources Discovering Start-Ups will re-launch early summer 2019

Discovering Start-Ups will re-launch early summer 2019. Contact for more information.

Discovering Start-Ups is a programme that connect ambitious start-ups, early stage companies and entrepreneurs to an elite panel of industry leaders and potential investors. Following an open application stage, ten finalists each year are selected to speed-pitch to these judges, followed by networking and technology demonstrations.

In 2018, the competition was run under the theme Connecting the Digital World, in order to provide particular exposure to those start-ups innovating in the field of connectivity. This broad subject encouraged applications from businesses positioned across any layer of the technology stack, from silicon to software. We looked forward to seeing innovations that will enhance digital communication across any industry, whether mobility as a service, autonomous vehicles, manufacturing 4.0 or smart cities.

Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) Enduring Challenge funding competion

Physical Sciences grants Rolling monthly deadlines

It provides a route into defence and security for any supplier who thinks they have an idea that can benefit UK Defence and Security, at home or abroad. It exists because we can’t possibly know all the potential solutions and novel approaches out there – whether that’s more advanced technical capability, how we work or operate, or how we train our people. As well as all our existing suppliers, we want to attract those who have not worked with defence and security before.

The Accelerator Enduring Challenge is building on the previously run Centre for Defence Enterprise enduring competitions. It provides some direction on what MOD’s on-going research challenges are, while still remaining open to all highly innovative ideas that challenge existing conventions and have a high potential benefit for the defence and security end user.

It has a budget of up to £6 million in financial year 2017/18. The Accelerator typically funds proposals for proof-of-concept research in the range of £50,000 to £90,000 for work of up to 9 months duration.

We won’t accept proposals for more than £90,000 or for projects lasting more than 9 months at phase 1. This is to ensure that we are focused on rapid proof-of-concept research.

Read more about the Accelerator terms and conditions.

If you have a novel research idea for the enduring competition, you can sign up for an Accelerator event to discuss your proposal.

More information can be found here

Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) funding competitions

Physical Sciences grants Open call for innotvation


The Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research to develop capabilities for UK defence and security.

The Accelerator is formed of personnel from the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Equipment and Support and the Home Office.

You can submit a Defence and Security Accelerator proposal for a research contract either to our enduring competition, or in response to the technical challenges in a specific themed competition.

See Defence and Security Accelerator terms and conditions and contract guidance.

The Defence and Security Accelerator funds only novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. If your proposal is a product, or outside of the Defence and Security Accelerator competition space, you should speak to the Defence Suppliers’ Service.

You can submit a DSA 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.

More information can be found here.

Enterprise Europe East

Spin-out grants Open call

Enterprise Europe East provide various sources of finance for SMEs. More information can be found here.

EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC)

Physical Sciences grants Applications for Oct 2019 are now open. The submission deadline is 5th Dec 2018.

We welcome applicants from across Physical Sciences including Chemistry, Physics, Materials and Engineering. Entry into this prestigious programme is competitive, and will take into account qualifications, aspirations and experience.

The University requirement for entry into a PhD programme is a II.1, but most students who are offered admission on the NanoDTC usually have a first. International applicants should refer to this link to find out what grades they need to have.

Applications for NanoDTC MRes + PhD programme should be made through the standard online Graduate Application Portal for Cambridge University. Please read the graduate prospectus entry for the NanoDTC and the application guide carefully before completing your application.

We do not offer the MRes or PhD components as standalone programmes.

Please note that the University’s ability to offer this course in 2019/20 depends on funding decisions scheduled to be made by the UK Research funding council in December 2018 for all CDTs seeking renewal. If the course is not offered, then either your application fee will be refunded, as well as travel expenses to attend for interview, or (with your consent) your application may be transferred to another course.

Please start your online Graduate Application by clicking here.

EPSRC IAA Follow-on Fund

Physical Sciences grants 18 January 2019

Closing dates for applications: 29 September 2017, 26 January 2018, 25 May 2018, 28 September 2018, 18 January 2019

EPSRC IAA Follow-on Fund

The IAA aims to enhance the exploitation of the outputs of EPSRC funded research. The Follow-on Fund will help fund the early stages of commercialisation of technologies, to make ideas 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.

Please find attached the Follow-on Fund call document which includes full information on the Fund and the Follow-on Fund application form.

ERC Proof of Concept

Life science grants 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 the cut-off dates.

Have you already received an ERC grant for your frontier research project and now want to explore the commercial or societal potential of your work? The ERC Proof of Concept Grant could be for you.

icon_starting-grant_who2.pngWho can apply?

All Principal Investigators in an ERC frontier research project, that is either on going or has ended less than 12 months before 1 January 2019, are eligible to participate and apply for an ERC Proof of Concept Grant. 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.

What proposals are eligible?

  • The funding can be used to:
    • Establish viability, technical issues and overall direction
    • Clarify intellectual property rights position and strategy
    • Provide feedback for budgeting and other forms of commercial discussion
    • Provide connections to later stage funding
    • Cover initial expenses for establishing a company
  • Location
    The project must be conducted in a public or private research organisation (known as a Host Institution/HI).
  • Host Institution
    The Host Institution must engage the Principal Investigator for at least the duration of the Proof of Concept project. Legally the Host Institution must be based in one of the EU Member States, (see also eligibility of UK legal entities) or one of the Associated Countries.
  • CriteriaThe ERC Proof of Concept funding is made available only to those who already have an ERC award to establish proof of concept of an idea that was generated in the course of their ERC-funded projects.

    The activities to be funded shall draw substantially on this scientifically excellent ERC-funded research. However the additional funding is not aimed at extending the original research or predominantly concerned with overcoming obstacles to practical application.

    The funding will cover activities at the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial or socially valuable proposition, i.e. the initial steps of pre-competitive development.

    How much?

    NEW feature for the ERC-2019-PoC call: The ERC is piloting the use of lump sums as a simplified funding mode for PoC. This will test efficiency and viability of such funding method compared to the current funding mode which is based on the declaration of actual costs.: The financial contribution will be awarded as a lump sum of € 150 000 for a period of 18 months.

    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.

    How to apply?

    The calls are published once a year with three cut-off dates, 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 the cut-off dates.

    For an ERC grant application to be complete, it needs to include the administrative forms, the proposal and the supplementary documents. The completed proposal should be submitted by the specified closing date.

    Calls are published on this page, the European Commission’s Participant Portal and in the Official Journal of the European Union.

    NEW submission forms templates specific for the new ERC-2019-PoC Lump Sum Pilot call are available on the Participant Portal PoC call page.

Innovate UK Funding Competitions

Life science grants Open call

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.

If you’re a UK-based business or research organisation, you may be able to compete for government-backed funding to:

  • research and develop a process, product or service
  • test your innovation ideas
  • collaborate with other organisations

Use this service to:

  • search and apply for innovation funding
  • submit, track and manage your applications

Start now on the InnovateUK innovation funding finder

More information can be found here.

Invention for Innovation i4i advances healthcare technologies

Life science grants Stage 1 deadline 24 April 2019 - Stage 2 deadline 05 June 2019


As a translational funding scheme, i4i advances healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.

We fund collaborative R&D projects in medtech SMEs, universities and the NHS that have demonstrated proof-of-principle and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation. The aim is to de-risk projects, making them attractive to follow-on funders and investors.

Funding streams

We have three funding streams – Product Development AwardsChallenge Awards and Connect.

All our awards are based on a two stage application process.

Product Development Awards (PDA)

These awards support any stage of the translational research and development pathway, including the clinical development of laboratory-validated technologies or interventions. Funded activities are described here.

Award specifications:

  • A minimum of two organisations must be involved from either NHS Trust, HEI or SME.
  • Lead applicants must be based in England.
  • Projects may be up to three years in duration.
  • There is no upper funding limit, but costs must be fully justified.

As well as applications that fit our remit, PDA Call 16 also invites applications to the following Highlight Notices and Themed Calls:

Highlight Notices: 

‘Complex Health and Care Needs in Older People’. Relevant research areas include frailty, transitions in care, service delivery and models of care, medicines management/polypharmacy, promoting healthy ageing/preventing ill health and patient-centred decision making.

‘Brain Tumours’. This highlight notice indicates the continuing interest of NIHR in receiving research proposals in this area, and it encourages collaborative applications that demonstrate how they build on recent initiatives and investment in the area made by the NIHR, the MRC and other research funders

Themed Calls:

‘Promotion of good mental health and the prevention or treatment of mental ill health’. Proposals are invited for clinical and applied health research that evaluate healthcare interventions, health services, social care or public health measures operating at either the individual, or the population level. Issues of particular interest include proposals that utilise new digital health technologies or investigate their effects.

For further details of Highlight Notices/Themed Calls please visit Please note that the PDA 16 researcher led call is open to all relevant research areas, and does not just include these Highlight Notices/Themed Calls. If your application falls under these Highlight Notices/Themed Calls, please indicate this in the application form in Section 6, Question 1 (What is the problem being addressed?).

Product Development Awards Call 18 Dates

Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 24 April 2019 (9am) 31 July 2019 (9am)
Submission deadline 05 June 2019 (1pm) 25 September 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome July 2019 December 2019 (earliest)

Isaac Newton Trust Research Grants

Life science grants Deadlines TBD – usually three rounds per year to coincide with Lent, Easter, and Michaelmas

The Isaac Newton Trust provides financial support for high-quality research and educational projects across all subjects in the University of Cambridge.  Since its foundation in 1988, the Trust has funded many hundreds of researchers, mainly at postdoctoral level.

We have helped to secure millions of pounds in grant income and donations from external bodies by providing matching funding in a supple, responsive and innovative way.

The Trust has only modest resources (its annual spend on research is currently no more than about £4m in total) – for details of our budget and how we spent it last year, please see our Annual Report

Our grants, while generally small in comparison to those from the major external funding bodies, often create opportunities for individuals and projects that might otherwise be missed.

The Isaac Newton Trustees review their funding activities continually against an ever-changing background of research funding and educational needs.

Before applying

1)  Read our ‘Guiding Principles’ which apply to most of our research grants, across all categories

2)  See the summary outline of our research grant funding categories

3)  Find out more about the category that interests you

4)  Consult the comparative table of research grant categories

5)  Then go to How to apply


Go to ‘Guiding Principles’



Isaac Newton Trust Research Grants

Physical Sciences grants 2017 deadlines – 30 November 2017

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 Various dates

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 Various dates

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).

National Institute for Health Research Funding Opportunities

Life science grants Various dates

Funding opportunities

The NIHR plays a key role in investing in the research fabric of the nation to support research in health, public health and social care.

We make this investment by funding NHS and research active organisations to provide research infrastructure or support, such as through our Biomedical Research Centres or Clinical Trials Units, or to address other NIHR priorities such as through our Research Schools, Research Design Service and Research Units with partner academic institutions.

On these pages you can find out more about how we support research and how to apply for any funding opportunities.