How do you get your technology developed from its research status, maybe funded by a grant, to a form robust enough for commercial support?
On 26 November, Julian Peck of Cambridge Enterprise provided an excellent description of the many sources of support for researchers bridging the gap from a research grant to commercial funding. He also provided a comprehensive set of notes.
He pointed out that, for the researcher moving towards commercialisation, the landscape is constantly evolving and researchers need to explore many sources of help, not all of it financial.
As well as Cambridge Enterprise’s follow-on funding, Julian signposted the Royal Academy of Engineering (www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/eef/default.htm) and the Royal Society schemes (royalsociety.org/grants/schemes/brian-mercer-feasibility/ and royalsociety.org/grants/schemes/brian-mercer-innovation/) .
For those of you looking for financial help and working from EPSRC-funded research, Cambridge Enterprise’s next “Follow-On Funding round is accepting expressions of interest until 8th January. (www.enterprise.cam.ac.uk/university-community/funding/2014/1/epsrc-iaa-follow/)
The Technology Strategy Board offers support via a series of competition – but note that you’ll need a company partner to lead the work. Use the Knowledge Transfer Networks as a source of insight and to understand the hot topics and priorities. If you have an SME partner then check out the TSB’s SMART awards (www.innovateuk.org/-/smart), six funding rounds a year with the next round closing on 30th January.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (www.ktponline.org.uk/) are a good and focused route to getting a capability into a company to solve a real problem, so developing the track record necessary to pursue commercialisation.
Michael Simmons flagged up the STFC programmes – contact him at mps48 at cam.ac.uk.
Julian’s most important point was that as you get into the ‘translational space’ you will find it much less a case of looking for well-defined grants and much more a case of opportunistically identifying and following routes to develop and prove your ideas.
So schemes such as iTeams (http://iteamsonline.org/), ETECH (www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/etech/) and Cambridge Venture Projects (www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/business/student-projects/mba-cambridge-venture-project/) become useful tools in exploring commercial viability. Mike Bradley flagged up the British Library – see, for example, their business and market research resources (www.bl.uk/bipc/resmark/index.html).
The EPSRC’s Impact Acceleration Account has a portfolio of ways to help – contact Claire Higgett
Cambridge Enterprise themselves are a valuable source of guidance, especially at the early stages when you’re establishing your strategy and planning how you will manage your intellectual property. They can also point you at the latest features of the ever-changing landscape.
(BTW, if you’d like a copy of Julian’s notes, contact Julian direct, or I’m happy to send them through (cb683 at cam.ac.uk))