£8 million expansion of InnovateUK programme to commercialise research

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The Government has announced an £8 million expansion of its Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) pilot programme will allow even more commercially-promising ideas to get to market more quickly.

The funding will see the University of Warwick and Queen’s University Belfast join the programme, which is supported by Innovate UK, part of the new national funding body UK Research and Innovation.

The universities will work alongside delivery partner, SETsquared Partnership to run and grow the programme across the UK. Final contracts to run this phase of the pilot will be signed shortly.

ICURe’s focus is on training early-career researchers to find the right route to commercialisation and helping them develop the necessary business skills, connections and expertise. It aligns with government’s Industrial Strategy, which emphasises the importance of research, innovation and skills to develop a strong economy and ensure Britain leads the high-tech, highly-skilled industries of the future.

With this funding boost, the pilot programme will be able to support an additional 48 research teams nationwide.

University researchers can get up to £35,000 to take their ideas out of the lab and validate them in the market.

A total of £3 million of the funding will go towards helping start-ups emerging from the programme to establish their businesses and support future growth. This will be competitively awarded by Innovate UK.

It builds on the success of the pilot to date. Research estimates that for every £1 of investment spent through ICURe it generates almost £4 of economic benefits in return. The pilot has engaged 160 university research teams to generate more than 11,000 business links worldwide and create 120 jobs in 44 new companies.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Sir Mark Walport said: “Supporting the very best talent and bridging the gap between research and commercialisation are two of UK Research and Innovation’s core objectives. We are a world-leading research nation and we must ensure that our innovation ecosystem supports the effective translation of this research into products with real-world impact.

The ICURe programme enables this translation by providing researchers with the funding to move ideas out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said: “Warwick as a highly effective bridge for innovation between academic research and industry, and we are delighted to be a key part of the national rollout of ICURe with its focus on helping early-career researchers taking their innovations into the marketplace.

Warwick will also draw on the innovation-based partnerships across the Midlands such as Midlands Innovation, the Midlands Engine, and the Midlands Enterprise Universities teams, to ensure that this programme helps create even more innovation-based jobs and business growth across our region.”