Funding available through UMIP
UMIP IP Development Partnering Fund
One of the major steps in successful IP commercialisation is finding co-development partners for new inventions. This activity adds value by inputting specific market knowledge and expertise which primes the idea for commercialisation. UMIP has set up an IP Development Partnering Fund which can award £25,000 per invention and is made available to inventions with significant commercial potential.
For further information, please contact your UMIP Commercialisation Executive
UMIP/IP Group Proof-of-Principle (PoP) Fund for spin-out opportunities
UMIP and the IP Group have created a £5M Proof-of-Principle funding facility for new projects intended for commercialisation through the formation of spin-out companies. The agreement, which is a for a minimum term of four years, or five years subject to certain conditions, covers the majority of the areas of materials and clean technology, electronics and communications and all non-therapeutic life, medical and human sciences and information technology.
IP Group provides access to its relevant experts, business building expertise, mentoring, coaching and co-investing networks, recruitment and business support and has the right to invest further in these companies as they progress.
For further information, please contact your UMIP Commercialisation Executive
External Funding Sources
BBSRC Follow-on funding pathfinder scheme
The pathfinder scheme enables researchers who have been funded by BBSRC to secure funding to carry out preliminary commercial activities.
These activities will help to: develop a clearer understanding of the commercial potential of the outputs of a research grant, assist with the development of a full follow-on funding application. The aim of this funding stream is to support commercial activities such as: commissioning expert advice from sector specialists on the best commercial development strategy for a business idea, completing a market assessment to determine likely potential, competition and opportunities, conduct IP searches – in particular freedom to operate, development of contacts with potential licensees or other interested parties, support Milestone 1 achievement – if the first milestone of the work is particularly risky and the success of the entire project depends upon this, funds can be sought to support this first milestone. These activities will strengthen a future application for full follow-on funding and be useful in targeting the commercialisation of the work. Eligibility requires that the project planned draws on BBSRC funded research.
The BBSRC recommends that you discuss your application with your UMIP Commercialisation Executive. The purpose of the application should reflect a considered view of the essential first steps to establish whether the work has commercialisation potential prior to submitting a full follow-on funding application.
BBSRC Follow-on Fund (FoF) and Super Follow-on Fund (SFoF)
The Follow-on Funding programme is designed to support the translation of fundamental research funded by BBSRC 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. 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. A FoF programme is expected to run for a 12 month duration and be of less than £250k value; a SFoF programme is expected to run for 12-18 month and cost £250k – £2M 80% FEC.
MRC Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS)
The £180 million Biomedical Catalyst is an integrated translational funding programme jointly operated by the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board providing responsive and effective support for the best life science opportunities arising in the UK. Support through the Biomedical Catalyst is available to academics looking to develop innovative solutions to healthcare challenges either individually or in collaboration.
Projects supported by the scheme have clearly defined milestones, outcomes and future plans. These help to maximise both the chance of success, and the likelihood of the project attracting the downstream funding, from public or private sources, required to meet its clinical and commercial aims.
NERC Follow-on Fund
NERC Follow-on Fund is designed to enable researchers to further develop the output from NERC funded research in order to deliver impact.
Follow-on Fund is aimed at supporting activity focused upon the commercialisation of research outputs. KE Call funding is aimed at supporting activity focused upon increasing the uptake of research output by the users with little or no commercial return, but which delivers impact.
The Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme aims to support and advance the research and development of healthcare technologies along two complementary funding streams:
- i4i Product Development Awards will support projects to develop any innovative healthcare technology including medical devices, active implantable devices and in vitro diagnostic devices as well as projects which utilise and develop techniques or technologies from a different industry sector that could have a potential impact if applied in a healthcare setting. – The i4i Challenge Awards aims to bridge the gap between the innovation and development of new medical technology and its adoption into clinical pathways.
- The i4i Challenge Awards will hold one competition per year that will address a particular ‘challenge’ that is a priority for the NHS. The programme will seek to identify those medical technologies with the greatest potential clinical benefit, along with how they might be integrated into clinical decision and treatment pathways and how they might be implemented on a large scale. The Challenge Award will seek to support a team capable in developing and supporting a programme of work for the further development of the technology’s clinical utility, including its broader applicability.
All projects must be informed by evidence obtained through basic research. The proposed technology or intervention must address an existing or emerging healthcare need and show commercial potential.
Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation
This scheme is for scientists who wish to develop an already proven concept or prototype into a near-market product ready for commercial exploitation. This award and the Brian Mercer Feasibility Award are designed to promote innovation and fill the funding gap between scientific research and the exploitation of an idea through venture capital investment.
Royal Society Paul Instrument Fund
This scheme is for scientists in the UK who want to design and construct a novel instrument to measure phenomena in the physical sciences. Applications should contain genuinely new ideas, techniques or highly novel applications of existing ideas and techniques. The Instrument should, as far as possible, be a stand-alone device and might be an outcome of a previous extensive research programme. The scheme aims to support innovative development, rather than pure research.
Wellcome Trust Translation Awards
Translation Awards should bridge the funding gap in the commercialisation of new technologies in the biomedical area. They are designed to be flexible, enabling freedom to innovate and push the boundaries of current knowledge. The aim is to support exceptional individuals with the brightest minds through larger and bolder awards to accelerate product development. The Fund will consider applications that are either single projects or portfolio programmes.
The fund will have strategic highlight areas , however projects covering any aspect of technology development from a range of disciplines – including physical, computational and life sciences – will be considered. Projects must address an unmet need in healthcare or in applied medical research, offer a potential new solution, and have a realistic expectation that the innovation will be developed further by the market. The Trust will normally actively participate in the stewardship of the project and lead on intellectual property management and exploitation.
Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Awards
The aim of Seeding Drug Discovery is to develop drug-like, small molecules that will be the springboard for further research and development by the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry in areas of unmet medical need. A two-point entry system has been introduced to enable projects at an earlier stage in development to be competitive for funding as well as to progress later-stage projects further towards clinical trials. Project duration will be determined by how advanced the project is.
Early-stage drug discovery projects (Screen to Lead) are able to apply for funding for up to two years to facilitate screening of chemical compounds to identify one or more lead series of molecules. Late-stage (Lead to Clinical) projects, where a lead compound has already been identified, are able to apply for funding for up to four years, to support lead optimisation and preclinical development through to clinical trials.
Wellcome Trust Pathfinder Award for neglected diseases
The diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orphan and neglected diseases present an unmet medical need. To address the obstacles of product development research in these areas, the Wellcome Trust is seeking to fund pilot studies to develop assets and de-risk future development.
The Pathfinder Award Scheme is intended to kick-start pilot projects that have significant potential to help develop innovative new products in these disease areas. In the scheme, an academic lead (or a lead from a not-for-profit entity) will build on or establish a partnership with a company that has specialist knowledge and access to technologies to facilitate the development of a specific product.
Projects covering any aspect of product development for neglected and orphan diseases could be considered provided the company partner provides a matching funding contribution. Typically, an eligible partnership would be with an established company who can provide evidence that it has previously developed and subsequently taken a product to market.
Priorities for the Pathfinder Award scheme are:
- Encouraging effective partnership between a public sector applicant (academic or not-for-profit entity) and a company partner.
- Building credible assets by funding quality pilot studies.
- Stimulating product development in difficult diseases, which could ultimately improve the outlook for patients afflicted by orphan and neglected diseases.
- Encouraging the development of paediatric products.
- Sharing knowledge and experience to de-risk early-stage projects.
In the context of this scheme:
- Neglected diseases are those listed in the Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) report and website.
- Orphan indications are those listed by the NIH Office of Rare Diseases Research.
- Useful advice for European orphan designation can be accessed on the European Medicines Agency website.