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Midlands ICURe 2019/20

ICURe - Commercialising University Research Midland Cohort C - now open for applications

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) is a successful Innovate UK programme designed to move innovation out of universities into the marketplace, to achieve its greatest impact. An independent evaluation of the pilot programme was carried out by Ipsos Mori and as well as finding evidence of improved commercial awareness and skills amongst the participants, it also found that participation in ICURe increased the likelihood that teams pursued a spin-out or a licensing deal from 15% to 79%. The full report can be seen on the government website here.

ICURe Success in Numbers

  • 226 teams have been trained, producing 62 (27%) spinout companies
  • Warwick University has entered 13 teams, 11 (85%) went on to form spinouts
  • They secured £7.6m in proof-of-concept funding
  • In 2018-19, Midlands ICURe trained and supported 28 teams from 13 universities
  • 12 of these (46%) succeeding in going through to the spinout business planning stage

In 2019/20 ICURe will continue its programme focused on commercially-promising ideas generated by researchers at UK universities. ICURe will fund teams from any UK university to demonstrate the market significance and reach of their proposed for products or services arising from their research outputs.

Guidance for Applicants

ICURe will fund selected proposals up to £35k to quantify market demand within a 3-month market validation stage. An additional £15k for business plan development may be made available if the project is approved for further funding following the market validation activity.

Applications for participation in the ICURe programme must be made by a team consisting of the following individuals:

  1. Post Doc, Junior Researcher (Early Career Researcher) with hands-on knowledge of the research results and underlying technologies and know-how,
  2. Senior Researcher (Principal Investigator) who is leading the research activity,
  3. Technology Transfer Officer (TTO) with university responsibility for commercialising the research activity,
  4. Business Adviser who is familiar with the research activity and has experience in the commercial marketplace.

The ICURe process

ICURe has four stages in its process:

1. Business Model Generation

ICURe kicks off with a 4-day residential bootcamp for the teams (the first day for the ECR only) which focuses on forming a hypothetical business model for the commercialisation of their research together with a budget and action plan for testing their model.

2. Market Validation

In this stage the ECR will spend three months travelling around the world intensively testing their business model assumptions through holding face-to-face conversations with at least 100 market experts: prospective customers, regulators, suppliers, partners or competitors.

3. Options Roundabout

On completion of their first-hand market research, the team presents to a panel of experts and investors the results of their market journey and their discoveries about the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of their business models. The team will propose a route to market that may be public or private sponsored research, exploring licensing opportunities, or seeking public or private funding for spin-out companies, and the panel feeds back on that route and assesses the development options for the next stage.

Those teams assessed as having demonstrated evidence of significant market demand that could lead to the creation of a spin-out company will proceed to the next stage.

The other teams will leave the ICURe process, but the ECRs will have benefited from the training, the industry network they have established and the feedback they have gained that can shape the next stage in developing their research.

4. Business Planning

Those teams with the potential for a spin-out company will receive up to £15k of additional funding allowing them to spend three months preparing a business plan they can use with investors and to apply for translational grant funding, including from ring-fenced funds from Innovate UK.

Team Applications

The programme will accept applications from teams based at all UK universities for Cohort 22. There are no restrictions upon which discipline, HE institution or part of the UK that can apply as long as they have the required team members.

Midlands Cohort C starts w/c 17th June 2019 and the Options Roundabout w/c 9th September 2019.

Team Requirements:

  • Post Doc/ Junior Researcher –must be an early career researcher and be able to commit Full-Time for 3 months (plus an additional 3 months if selected for Business Planning) on the programme starting the week of the bootcamp and MUST be employed by the university for the length of the programme. The period will end on the week of the Options Roundabout. As extensive international travel is required to hold meetings and discussions with key commercial organisations, the ECR MUST have valid visas for major countries BEFORE they attend the bootcamp bringing their passports.
  • Senior Researcher – MUST be able to attend the whole bootcamp and options roundabout and be willing to support the programme throughout the 3-month period.
  • Business Adviser motivated to offer expert guidance and support. Teams are strongly encouraged to name an adviser in their application, from a relevant industrial sector. If you do not already have an appropriate person, the ICURe team will provide assistance to help you identify one.
  • Technology Transfer Officer – MUST attend the bootcamp and options roundabout as well as support the ECR and team during the ICURe programme and continue to support the further commercialisation following the ICURe programme.


Successful applicants to the ICURe programme will receive a budget of up to £35k for Stages 1 through 3.

This funding is not a grant, and there is no money paid up front. Money will be drawn down against expenditure through your university’s research commercialisation office. If this is not agreed then the team will not progress on the programme.

Eligible expenses covered by the programme are:

  • Up to £15k towards Early Career Researcher's salary costs (including university pension and NI contributions). Salary provided will match the Early Career Researcher’s current salary. There is no additional amount paid.
  • Up to £20k towards Early Career Researcher's travel, subsistence and accommodation required to conduct face-to-face interviews and attend trade shows during Stage 2 - Market Validation.
  • Travel costs and accommodation for team members to attend ICURe events (bootcamp, training days/support and Options Roundabout Presentation).

Those teams going on to prepare business plans will receive a budget of up to £15k for Stage 4 to fund the ECR's salary for a further three months.

Midlands Cohort C - Key Dates

  1. Applications close - 4th May 2019.
  2. Notice of acceptance on the ICURe scheme - w/c 21st May 2019.
  3. ECR's Pre-Bootcamp teleconference to discuss programme and expectations - w/c 6th June 2019..
  4. 4-day residential Bootcamp – 17th-20th June 2019. Please hold these dates in all team members' diaries when you apply. The ECR will be required to attend across all four days, the Senior Researcher, TTO and Adviser MUST join the second day onwards, i.e. 3 days. Please note, due to the venue and delivery arrangements for the bootcamp, we are not able to accept additional team members to attend. Also, please note that the ECR and SR roles can only be undertaken by one person per role (i.e. time cannot be split between two staff).
  5. Immediately after the Bootcamp, the ECR will spend 3 months travelling to meet with target companies and organisations to test the business model. The ECR must be employed full-time on the programme for 3 months until the last date of the Options Roundabout.The ECR is required to "attend" bi-weekly teleconferences with the Programme Manager and provide formal monthly reports.
  6. The ECR (plus optional one other team member) must attend an Options Roundabout Training day 5th September 2019 at a venue to be confirmed which supports the preparation of the final presentation to the panel.
  7. The Team will deliver their ‘ICURe Journey’ final presentation to the Options Roundabout Panel w/c 9th September 2019 (each team will be allocated a slot on one of the 3 days.) The Options Roundabout panel will make recommendations to the team on commercialisation options they feel are most appropriate for the project/team at that stage.

Application Process

Please contact for the application form or download here. Midlands ICURe application form

Please complete the application form clearly and concisely, remembering that the review panel may not be experts in the field of your technology. Please ensure you follow the word count guide. Sections with * must be completed. Before sending in your application, please ensure all members of the team are available on the dates of the cohort bootcamp. You will hear whether your application has been successful only a very short time before the bootcamp.

Completed applications should be sent to before the closing date of 4th May 2019.

ICURe Cohort 22 Draft Programme Timeline**

Cohort 22 Application deadline 4th May 2019
Cohort 22 Bootcamp 17th-20th June 2019
Cohort 22 Options Roundabout Training days 5th September 2019
Cohort 22 Options Roundabout w/c 9th September 2019

** subject to change

For more information:contact 


Application Deadline Cohort C

4th May 2019

For further information contact