Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: BBSRC Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) Discover

Apply for funding to discover more about the potential market of your bioscience-based idea, increase market awareness and gain deeper understanding of potential technology applications.

BBSRC ICURe Discover is open to bioscience researchers (including PhD students, technicians, postdoctoral research associates, fellowship and group leader positions) in all UK universities, BBSRC-funded institutes and approved public sector research enterprises.

BBSRC will fund up to £3,700 for an eight-week part-time online market discover programme.

The discover programme is designed using lean start-up methodology. BBSRC ICURe Discover takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test and evaluate) and applies it to commercialisation.

Who can apply

BBSRC ICURe Discover is open to bioscience researchers (including PhD student, technician, postdoctoral research associates (PDRA), fellowship and group leader positions) in all:

  • UK universities
  • BBSRC-funded institutes
  • approved public sector research enterprises (PSREs)

Although you do not require a full team to be able to participate in ICURe Discover, we recommended, as a minimum, that you are aware of who your technology transfer office is and inform your principal scientific advisor or senior researcher. Please also note that your application must have been agreed with your organisation prior to applying, including that you can commit to the programme.

Discover teams

The entrepreneurial lead active participation is compulsory for the programme. BBSRC ICURe Discover teams are usually composed of two to four individuals that will support the entrepreneurial lead:

Entrepreneurial lead

Any research or technical research staff member, including, but not limited to, PhD student, technician, PDRA, fellowship and group leader positions, who receives their salary or stipend from an eligible university, PSRE or institute.

This individual must be able to commit for the duration of the programme starting the week of the bootcamp, and have approval of their institute, organisation, or funder.

Principal scientific advisor

A researcher who can provide intellectual support to the entrepreneurial lead throughout the course of the programme. For example, an interdisciplinary project may require input from outside the research group.

Technology transfer representative or professional

An individual from the team, either from or contracted to the research organisation, leading on the commercialisation of the intellectual asset with appropriate technology transfer expertise.

This individual must:

  • be able to attend essential bootcamp sessions as well as the options roundabout
  • provide support for the entrepreneurial lead and team during the programme
  • provide continued support for further commercialisation activity following the programme’s conclusion

Business adviser

A motivated individual from a relevant industrial sector who can offer expert guidance and support. We strongly encourage teams to name a business adviser in their application.

Please contact the ICURe administration team if identifying a suitable advisor is a barrier.

Teams are responsible for any agreements or financial arrangements that may be needed with their business advisers.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to improving diversity across our programmes and are actively seeking applications from under-represented groups, including women, people of colour, those living with disabilities and those from the LGBTQI+ communities.

We also actively encourage applications led by non-Russell Group universities.

The spread across different target market sectors will also be considered when selecting applications to ensure broad portfolio coverage.

Previous applications

Please note that we cannot accept applications based upon a research project that has previously been through the ICURe Discover programme.

What we're looking for

What is ICURe Discover

BBSRC ICURe Discover is a game-changing eight-week part-time online market discover programme, supporting bioscience researchers (including PhD student, technician, postdoctoral research associates, fellowship and group leader positions) to:

  • discover more about their potential market
  • increase market awareness
  • gain deeper understanding of potential technology applications

The discover programme is designed using lean start-up methodology. BBSRC ICURe Discover takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test and evaluate) and applies it to commercialisation. You will learn how to use this approach to test what your potential customers think about your bioscience-based idea, product, or service.

How does it work

BBSRC ICURe takes the scientific method and applies it to commercialisation. Over an eight-week period you will learn how to use this approach to test what your potential customers think about your idea, product, or service. In addition, you will receive training and interview practice and acquiring transferrable business and social skills.

Past participants say that having eight weeks of support and dedicated time to spend on customer discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation.

What’s included

BBSRC ICURe Discover includes:

  • up to £2,500 to support market discovery activities
  • up to £1,200 for business adviser support
  • pathway towards a further £35,000 BBSRC ICURe Explore follow on funding
  • two-day online training bootcamp with commercialisation experts to develop a hypothetical business model, learn how to talk about technology to potential customers, and identify customer pain points
  • plan and execute eight weeks of tailored market discovery for your bioscience-based idea, product or service using online software, video conferencing and marketing tools
  • access to our team of experts and proactive connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors and funders
  • outline commercial viability using tools such as the Business Model Canvas
  • develop an understanding of existing market offerings and competitive landscape for your sector

Previous funding

The research underpinning the bioscience innovation and the products or services being carried forward for market exploration by the team must be building on a previous BBSRC or other UKRI grant.

The technology, product or service must be either:

  • biological in nature
  • interact with a biological entity
  • involve a biological process
  • address a biological challenge

We welcome applications from across the biosciences, including:

  • agriculture and food
  • healthy ageing
  • engineering biology
  • industrial biotechnology
  • innovative tools and technologies underpinning biological research

What we will not fund

Applications based on medical or clinical devices, and therapeutics being developed solely for a specific end-point clinical utility (including diagnostics), will not be accepted.

For example, if you are developing a technology specifically for diagnosing or treating a specific disease, you would not be eligible for BBSRC ICURe. However, if you also aim to investigate other market opportunities for this technology outside of the health sector, for example for livestock, or if this technology can be pivoted and used as a platform technology then you would be eligible for BBSRC ICURe.

We strongly advise you to contact us if you are unsure whether your application would fit the scope of the funding opportunity.

How we will assess your application

All applications will go through a competitive selection process and the entrepreneurial lead will be required to participate in individual scheduled video interviews as part of that process.

Your application must have been agreed with your organisation prior to applying, including that you can commit to the programme full-time.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Luca Mannocchi

Email: luca.mannocchi@bbsrc.ukri.org

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