The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and funded by InnovateUK and HEFCE, offers university researchers with commercially-promising ideas up to £50k to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their ideas in the marketplace.

“I thought I knew my target market for my technology. But this programme is helping 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

ICURe is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), designed to move ideas and innovation out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.

In 2016-17, the ICURe pilot (phase 2) focusses on commercially-promising research projects undertaken at SETsquared and invited universities. ICURe will fund teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, and then, where there is evidence of market demand, licence or spin-out the research into a company.

Guidance for Applicants

ICURe will fund proposals to prove market demand for research with funding of up to £35k for the 3 month Market Validation stage, with an additional up to £15k available post initial 3 months, where applicable. Applications for the funding should be made by a team of 3 consisting of:

  1. Junior Researcher (ECR)

  2. Senior Researcher (Principal Investigator)

  3. Business Adviser.

ICURe will support three months of full-time, intense market assessment where Junior Researchers take on the role of the Entrepreneurial Lead, engaging with prospective customers, partners and competitors, taking steps to validate the commercial potential of their research. 

At the end of the 3 months, participating teams will present their opportunity to an options panel that will offer the team expert guidance on recommended development pathways. The options proposed can include carrying out further research, exploring licensing opportunities, seeking private funding for spin-out or, for those projects that have demonstrated strong market potential by the end of the market validation,  the panel may recommend a commercial oppoirtunity exists. If this is the case, commercialisation staff from the universities, ICURe programme team members 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 SETsquared Partnership universities, as well as Universities from outside the partnership.

Requirements of the team are as follows:

  • Junior Researcher - must be an early career researcher and be able to commit full-time for 3 months on the programme starting by 6th February 2017 and MUST be employed by the university for the length of the programme.

  • Senior Researcher, is able to support the programme throughout the 3 month period, with a commercially-promising idea or technology

  • Business Adviser motivated to offer expert guidance and support.  Teams are encouraged to name an adviser in their application, however, if needed, SETsquared will help the team recruit a business advisor from a relevant industrial sector as a third team member.

Eligible Expenditures

Up to £35,000 of initial allocation is available for each participating team, (with the possibility of accessing an additional £15k post-roundabout). Each team accepted on to the programme will be required to submit a budget and action plan for approval and money will be drawn down against expenditure through your university’s research commercialisation office. This funding is not a grant, and there is no money paid up front.

Expenses covered by the programme are:

  • Up to £15k towards Junior Researcher salary costs (including on university pension and NI contributions). Salary provided will match the Junior Researcher’s current salary. There is no additional amount paid.

  • Costs associated with communications required to conduct interviews

  • Travel and accommodation required to conduct face-to-face interviews and attend trade shows.

  • Development of a simple website landing page to capture prospective customer feedback

  • Costs associated with research record-keeping and feedback-tracking software licenses

  • 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 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. Cohort 8 Launch - 3 day residential bootcamp - w/c 6th March 2017. The EL will be required to attend across all days, with the Senior Researcher and Adviser joining 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, although additional team members can support activity post-bootcamp. Also, please note that the EL role can only be undertaken by one person (ie. time cannot be split between 2 JRs). The JR must be employed full-time on the programme for 3 months until the last date of the Options Roundabout.

  2. The EL will access bi-monthly teleconferences with the Programme Manager and other programme teams and monthly face-to-face coaching and support meetings.

  3. The Team will attend an Options Roundabout Training day w/c 22nd May 2017 at a venue to be confirmed which supports the preparation of the final presentation to the panel.

  4. The Team will deliver their ‘ICURe Journey’ final presentation to the Options Roundabout Panel w/c 29th May 2017 (each team will be allocated an hour 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 will 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 by 30th January 2017.

ICURe Draft Programme Timeline**

Cohort 8 Application deadline

6th February 2017

Cohort 8 Launch (remote via VLE)


Cohort 8 Bootcamp

w/c 6th March 2017

Cohort 8 Options Roundabout Training

w/c 22nd May 2017

Cohort 8 Options Roundabout 

w/c 29th May 2017

** subject to change

For more information, contact [email protected].

Apply now