I thought I knew my target market for my technology. But this programme has helped our team gain real feedback from potential customers and is dramatically changing the way we view our approach to research commercialisation.
SETsquared ICURe Pilot Programme Participant

The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and Innovate UK, and funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), offers university research teams with commercially-promising ideas up to £35k to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their ideas in the marketplace.

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, Innovate UK and BEIS, designed to move ideas and innovation out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.

In 2018-19 the ICURe pilot will continue to focus on commercially-promising research projects undertaken at all UK universities. ICURe will fund teams to validate whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, science or technology.

Guidance for Applicants

ICURe will fund selected proposals to prove market demand for research with funding of up to £35k for the 3-month Market Validation stage. Applications for participation in the ICURe programme should be made by a team consisting of the following individuals:

1.       Early Career Researcher (ECR) / Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) with hands-on knowledge of the technology and the research results,

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 experience in the commercial marketplace.

ICURe supports three months of full-time, intense market assessment with the Early Career Researchers taking on the role of the Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) to have meaningful conversations with at least 100 prospective customers, regulators, suppliers, partners and competitors to validate the commercial potential of their research.  

The Senior Researchers are key to the ICURe programme with their help in developing the unique value propositions and action plans during the bootcamp and their support and advice to the ECR/EL’s activities in the marketplace.

Technology Transfer staff (TTO) are encouraged to be a proactive part of the team. Their skills and expertise regarding understanding university process and policy are essential to getting the best out of the programme. We will strongly encourage and will fund their expenses to attend the residential boot camp and options roundabout with their teams. We run a specific lessons learnt session at the bootcamp for new and existing TTO staff which has been well received. Please see the TTO guidance for lessons learnt and helpful hints created by previous TTO staff.

The Business Advisors are valued members of the ICURe team with their help in developing the value propositions, action plans and budgets during the bootcamp and their support as needed during the ECR/EL’s activities in the marketplace.

At the end of the 3 month market validation activity, participating teams will present their opportunity to an options roundabout panel that will offer the team expert guidance on recommended development pathways.

The options proposed can include carrying out public or private sponsored research, exploring licensing opportunities, seeking public or private funding for spin-out, for those projects that have demonstrated strong market potential by the end of the market validation.  If there is a strong case, commercialisation staff from the universities and university incubators, will work with each team so that they can be fast-tracked into creating a start-up company.

Team Applications

The programme will accept applications from teams based at all UK universities for Cohort 15. There are no restrictions upon which discipline, HE institution or part of the UK that can apply as long as they have the correct team members.

Cohort 15 bootcamp starts w/c 14th January 2019 and the Options Roundabout w/c 25th March 2019.

Requirements of the team are as follows:

  • ECR / Entrepreneurial Lead - must be an early career researcher and be able to commit full-time for 3 months on the programme starting the beginning of January 2019 and MUST be employed by the University for the Length of the programme.
  • Senior Researcher, MUST be able to attend the bootcamp, options roundabout and support the programme throughout the ICURe 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 as a team member.
  • TTO from the university must attend the bootcamp and support the team during and post the ICURe programme.

Eligible Expenditures

Up to £35,000 of initial allocation is available for each participating team. Each team accepted onto the programme will be required to submit a budget and action plan for approval at the bootcamp and 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.

This funding is not a grant, and there is no money paid up front. 

Expenses covered by the programme are:

  • Up to £15k towards ECR/EL’s salary costs (including ‘on costs’, i.e. university pension and NI contributions).  Salary provided will match the Early Career Researcher’s current salary. There is no additional amount paid. 
  • ECR/EL’s travel, subsistence and accommodation required to conduct face-to-face interviews and attend trade shows.
  • Travel costs and accommodation for team members to attend ICURe events (bootcamp, training days/support and Options Roundabout Presentation – accommodation for bootcamp is covered by the central ICURe programme). 

NB - The role of business adviser is unpaid; however, their travel and accommodation expenses to ICURe events will be covered by the programme.


If you are successful with your application and are offered a place on the programme, your team will be required to meet the following expectations:

1.       Pre Bootcamp teleconference to discuss programme and expectations for the ECR/EL w/c 1stJanuary 2019

2.       Cohort 15 Launch - 3 day residential bootcamp - w/c 14th January 2019
The ECR/EL will be required to attend across all days, the Senior Researcher, TTO and Adviser must join at later points over the 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/EL and SR roles can only be undertaken by one person per role (i.e. time cannot be split between two staff). The ECR/EL must be employed full-time on the programme for 3 months until the last date of the Options Roundabout.

3.       The ECR/EL will access bi-weekly teleconferences with the Programme Manager and other programme teams and monthly reporting is required.

4.       The ECR/EL will attend an Options Roundabout Training day w/c 18th March 2019 at a venue to be confirmed which supports the preparation of the final presentation to the panel.

5.       The Team will deliver their ‘ICURe Journey’ final presentation to the Options Roundabout Panel w/c 25th March 2019 (each team will be allocated a slot on one of 2 days.) The Options Roundabout panel will make a recommendation to the team on commercialisation options they feel are most appropriate for the project/team at that stage.

Application Process

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.

Please note – there is no ability to save and return to your application.

Once the application is submitted, the ICURe application review panel will consider all applications and identify the projects that best meet the ICURe programme requirements. You will be notified of the outcome of your application w/c 3rd December 2018.

ICURe 15 Draft Programme Timeline**

Cohort 15 Application deadline

16th November 2018

Cohort 15 Programme starts

w/c  1st January 2019

Cohort 15 Bootcamp

w/c 14th January 2019

Cohort 15 Options Roundabout Training days

w/c 18th March 2019

Cohort 15 Options Roundabout 

w/c 25th March 2019

** subject to change

For more information, contact [email protected] or call Don Spalinger on 0782 482 0417