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ICURe: Guidance for applicants

ICURe is responding to the extraordinary circumstances that the Covid-19 global pandemic is producing.  The whole world is being impacted, with the UK and most other countries experiencing lockdown and social distancing.  We all hope that we are now seeing control of and the beginning of the defeat of the pandemic, but we are likely to be in a continually changing environment for a lengthy period.  Fortunately, university innovation and entrepreneurial thinking is continuing apace and perhaps even accelerating through the lockdown and as lockdown eases.  The need for market validation as we commercialise research outputs is as strong as ever and ICURe is evolving to ensure a better fit for the new circumstances.  With these continuously changing circumstances, the ICURe Programme will dynamically evolve and change in response to the UK and global situations.  ICURe is an innovation and entrepreneurial programme, and entrepreneurs deal with and take advantage of constant change, so come to the programme to embrace and be part of the change.

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 £30,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace.

An independent evaluation of the ICURe pilot programme was carried out by Ipsos Mori.  The report found evidence of improved commercial awareness and skills amongst the participants.  Strikingly, their findings showed that the likelihood of a research team pursuing commercialisation through a licensing deal or spin-out increased from 15% to 79% after participating in ICURe.

ICURe goes online

Due to the current circumstances, we have updated ICURe to allow customer discovery activities to be undertaken using remote working over a 3 to 4 month period. We will also carry out the training and support activities online, which means the programme is more accessible to a wider range of applicants, and we would encourage applications from those who may have previously been unable to participate. As global circumstances evolve, we anticipate ICURe reverting to a level of travel and face-to-face engagements mixed with the benefits of remote working and the digital world.

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 customer discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation.

What does it include?

  • Funding support up to £30,000, which includes the salary costs for the team’s Entrepreneurial Lead to have fully committed time for customer discovery activities whilst participating in the programme.
  • Access to experts in bringing research to market.
  • Access to our team of experts and proactive connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors and funders.
  • Game-changing online delivery.
  • Programme allowing you to work flexibly enabling connection with customers worldwide.
  • Access to market Intelligence.
  • Support in the development of a personalised report which will include data about your potential customers, competitors and suppliers plus a comprehensive overview of the intellectual property landscape for your sector.

The ICURe process

Bootcamp training

Online bootcamp over a consecutive 5-day period where you will learn how to talk about your ideas and technologies to customers, develop a value proposition and identify your customers’ needs. You will also create a detailed plan for your customer discovery journey.

Market validation

You will plan and execute a tailored customer discovery for your idea, product or service based on conversations and meetings utilising, video conferencing, online marketing tools and face-to-face where safe and possible. You will receive coaching clinics from experts in taking research ideas to market. This will involve targeting direct engagements with over 100 business leaders.

Options roundabout pitches and pitch training

1-day online pitch training and the opportunity to use this training to pitch to an experienced panel of funders, entrepreneurs, stakeholders and individuals that have commercialised research, to help accelerate the impact from your research.

Business planning support

Following the options roundabout, selected teams will receive further support to plan their new business or licensing opportunities, apply for follow-on funding, form a spin-out company and attract investment.

Who is eligible?

ICURe is open to research teams in all UK universities and some public sector research enterprises (PSREs).  ICURe teams are composed of four individuals:

  • Junior Researcher (ECR) / Entrepreneurial Lead / post-doctoral researcher or PhD researcher who has completed research – MUST be able to commit Full-Time for the 3 months on the programme starting the week of the bootcamp and MUST be employed by the university for the programme duration.
  • 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 3-month 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. With the change to online delivery and remote customer discovery, this ICURe programme is suitable for applicants who would be unable to travel extensively.

How do I apply?

The application form can be accessed from the links on this website. All applications will go through a competitive selection process and the EL will be required to participate in a scheduled telephone 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 or the ICURe team, details below.

Programme Director: Don Spalinger – 07557 977 990

Programme Manager: Jason Wiggins – 07580 500700

Programme Coordinator: Thea Glasspool – 07557 179144

Team applications

The programme will accept applications from teams based at any UK universities.  We also welcome applications from Public Sector Research Enterprise (PSRE) establishments – for these please contact the ICURe team and discuss. There are no restrictions upon which discipline can apply.


Successful applicants to the ICURe programme will receive a budget of up to £30k.

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 reclaim after the programme finishes.

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey