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ICURe Explore: Guidance for Applicants

ICURe trains, funds, and supports research teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their ideas, research, science, and technologies. Up to £35,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace

It is held over approximately 3 months, with training and support activities mostly carried out online to provide accessibility to a wide range of applicants (with the exception of the first two days of bootcamp)

How does it work?

ICURe takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test, evaluate) and applies it to commercialisation. 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, carrying out over 100 interviews and acquiring transferrable business and social skills. Past participants say that having ICURe support, training, and funding to spend on market discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation.

What does it include?

  • Funding support up to £35,000. This comprises of the ECR salary and market research budget
  • Support to cover approximately 3 months of ECR salary to have fully committed time for customer discovery activities whilst participating in the programme
  • Access to SETsquared experts in bringing research to market, as well as proactive connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors, and funders.
  • Dependent upon the outcome of the Options Roundabout, some teams may have the opportunity to access further training and specialist sector support. They may also be invited to apply for Innovate UK follow-on funding and access to investors as part of the ICURe Exploit programme.
  • Face-to-face and online bootcamps – 2 days ECR only face-to-face and then 3 days online, where the rest of the team will join. This will be an intensive bootcamp where you will earn how to talk about your technology to customers, develop a hypothetical business model and identify your customer’s pain points. You will also create a detailed plan for your market discovery journey.
  • Approximately 3 months of market validation against the customer discovery plan for your research using online software platforms, video conferencing and marketing tools and face-to-face engagement (where safe and possible). This will involve targeting direct engagements with over 100 business leaders. You will join weekly conference calls with our team of experts who will provide guidance in taking research ideas to market.
  • 1-day online pitch training to teach you how to pitch your research to potential customers and investors.
  • The opportunity to pitch to an experienced panel of funders, stakeholders and, mentors to help accelerate the impact of your research. The panel will give feedback on commercialisation pathways which can include carrying out further public or privately sponsored research and exploring licensing opportunities or seeking public or private funding for spin-out for those projects that have demonstrated strong market potential by the end of the market validation.

Whether the Options Roundabout activities are online or face-to-face is yet to be confirmed.

NB: This funding is not a grant, and there is no money paid upfront. Expenditure will go through the appropriate finance office at your university and would then be reclaimed after the programme finishes.

Who is eligible?

ICURe is open to research teams in all UK universities and some Public Sector Research Establishments (PSRE’s).  ICURe teams are composed of four individuals:

  • Early Career Researcher (ECR) / Entrepreneurial Lead / post-doctoral researcher or PhD researcher who has completed research – MUST be employed by the university and able to commit Full-Time for the duration of the programme starting the week of the BootCamp until the last date of the Options Roundabout.
  • Senior Researcher (PI) / research group leader – MUST be able to attend essential online bootcamp sessions as well as the options roundabout and be willing to support the programme throughout its duration.
  • Technology Transfer Officer (TTO) – MUST be able to attend essential online bootcamp sessions as well as the options roundabout. In addition, provide support for the EL and team during the ICURe programme and continued support for further commercialisation activity following the ICURe programme.
  • 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. If you do not already have an appropriate person, the ICURe team will help you identify one. Teams are responsible for any agreements or financial arrangements that may be needed with their Business Advisers.

We are committed to improving diversity across our programmes and are actively seeking applications from under-represented groups and non-Russell Group Universities.

We cannot accept applications from a team in respect of a project that has previously participated and benefitted from the ICURe programme.

How do I apply?

The application form may be accessed from the links on this website. All applications will go through a competitive selection process and the ECR will be required to participate in a scheduled video interview as part of that process. Your application must have engaged with your university Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and your research group (PI AND ECR) prior to applying.

If you have any further questions, please direct them to [email protected] or Thea Glasspool on 07557 179144.

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