Funding programmes

Proof of Concept (PoC)

The Proof of Concept programme aims to increase the level and quality of commercialisation from within our research base through the provision of funding for early stage development activity. Projects must demonstrate that their ideas have originality, protectable IP and potential for significant economic impact.

Funding for a Proof of Concept project is capped at £112,500 of eligible costs. There are two strands to the funding: a technology strand of up to 18 months duration with maximum assistance of up to £86,500*; and a commercialisation strand of up to 24 months duration with maximum assistance of up to £26,000 which runs concurrently with the technology strand.

The formal funding arrangements for the projects will be between InvestNI and QUB. For this reason, proposals must have the endorsement of the University at the time of submission. A disclosure of any relevant technology or intellectual property that is planned to be used must be submitted on an Innovation Disclosure Form prior to an application being prepared.

Anyone interested in preparing an application is advised to speak to the relevant Commercial Development Manager first. Please contact;

MHLS Faculty  - Alex Chacko  

Pharmacy and Chemistry - Ann McConnell

All other enquires – Jason Wiggins


  • The next Proof of Concept round is expected in early 2018.

Useful Documents and Links

Impact Acceleration Account (IAA)

The EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account:- The EPSRC had previously provided funding to QUB to support projects that will help to deliver greater impact from EPSRC-funded research. The funding was devolved to QUB and the University chose to support a number of different themes. Following on from positives outcomes, EPSRC has awarded a further £600,000 to be spent through the Impact Acceleration Account at QUB.

The second of the QUB open calls is now open. These will be funding available for secondments, Collaboration Catalyst (working with a partner), Demonstration of Commercial Principle and Enterprise Fellowship support. Secondments that involve Government or the Civil Service in either Stormont or Westminster are encouraged. Typically funding will be between £5,000 and £25,000 for each project supported, for details please see the guidance notes. It is anticipated that a total of around £200,000 will be allocated to a portfolio of projects in this round. There will be a number of further calls later in 2018 and 2019.  The deadline for applications in this round is Monday 18th December 2017.

In addition to the current QUB open call, there will be a targeted call in early 2018 on Digital Dissemination and Transformation.

A requirement of all applications is that they must be linked in some way to a previous EPSRC grant.

For further details on this scheme, please contact Jason Wiggins


Useful Documents and Links

Confidence in Concept (CiC)

The Confidence in Concept programme aims aims to accelerate the transition from discovery science to the early stages of therapeutic, diagnostic or medical device development by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach. Projects should aim to provide sufficient preliminary data to provide confidence in the underlying concept before seeking more substantive funding from sources including Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme/Developmental Clinical Studies (DPFS/DCS) or other equivalent schemes, or external investment from commercial partners.

Applications will be considered against the following eligibility requirements    

  • Translational projects which are not curiosity driven or early stage “blue skies” research
  • Subject matter must fit in with MRC’s mission and broad areas of research
  • Projects which are not a continuation or substitution for regular research funding
  • Projects not previously supported through Confidence in Concept
  • Projects which build upon existing QUB IP or has the potential to develop new QUB IP during the programme of work. 
  • Projects that rely heavily upon, or that would develop IP belonging to a third party are likely to be ineligible. For example, applications centred on drugs owned by pharma companies or technology patented by a previous employer / other university are unlikely to be successful.
  • Related to an existing IDF or a new IDF has been submitted in advance of the full application.


14 June 2017 MRC CiC competition launch. To help colleagues develop strong proposals, researchers invited to submit their project abstracts via the MRC CiC challenge on the QUB Ideas Hub.
19 July 2017  MRC CiC opens for full applications. (Note that submission of a project abstract on the Ideas Hub is not a prerequisite for submission of a full application)
1 Sep 2017 Completed full application forms returned to by 12 noon
8 Sep 2017 Review panel meeting. Outcomes, offers and feedback to applicants shortly thereafter.
31 Oct 2017 Latest date for project setup. Confirmation of any external funding to be secured along with any collaboration agreements necessary.
31 Dec 2018 Final date for all expenditure to be committed with interim and final reports completed.

If you are considering an application, we recommend discussing your proposal informally with a member of the Commercial Development Team prior to completion of the full application form:

Medicine, Health, and Life Sciences - Alex Chacko

Pharmacy and Chemistry - Ann McConnell

Useful documents and links

Proof of Principle (PoP)

One of the key challenges in commercialising University research is access to the early stage funding necessary to take a novel idea to an early stage of proof - thereby validating the commercial potential in order to attract additional investment. To overcome this funding challenge, the University has developed a ‘Proof-of-Principle’ (PoP) programme to support projects with significant potential to deliver economic impact.

The award is intended to move the projects to the next stage of proof. For example, to develop an early prototype, more in-depth market understanding or the generation of additional data to support validation of the idea. The focus of the fund is to provide short-term investment to develop early stage ideas, where there are some preliminary findings, but no clear route to the marketplace. The fund would act as a primer for InvestNI Proof of Concept investment or RCUK Follow-On funding. The programme has been designed to help you prepare your knowledge and technology for commercialisation. The programme is not intended to support research projects for which no preliminary findings have been generated, but is designed to help academics demonstrate the potential for economic impact of a new concept, technology or invention and to highlight the need for and type of additional development support that would be required to take the technology closer to the market place.


Lean Launchpad Northern Ireland - (LLPNI)  Powered by ICURe

The LLPNI programme offers teams the opportunity to develop their ideas that are targeted at commercialisation of work. The programme will last for seven weeks and will help teams articulate their particular strengths and identify what potential customers actually want. Each team will typically consist of three individuals along with help from Research and Enterprise.

All LLP NI projects will require a team to work with Lead Applicant. The ideal team will typically be three individuals - the “Rower” (such as an Early Career Researcher) a Principal Investigator and an external mentor. There is an expectation that the majority of the customer discovery activities will be carried out by the Rower. We will be flexible on the team’s accepted for the LLPNI programme. We may also be able to assist you to fill in gaps with your team.

Lean LaunchPad NI 2017 Powered by ICURe

Following on from the successful first programme, the Commercialisation team at Research and Enterprise are looking for more university teams with commercially promising research, and who want the opportunity to learn lean start up philosophies and 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.

Lean LaunchPad NI 2017 is a 7 week pre-accelerator programme being where university teams will have the opportunity to:

-           Validate their ideas in the market;
-           Obtain funding (£1k per team) in support of customer discovery activities;
-           Receive support from business mentors;
-           Receive external feedback from a faculty of business experts;
-           Investigate the most appropriate technology transfer route to market; and
-           Obtain up to £10k in additional funding upon successful completion of the programme for opportunities that merit it.

The programme is being run by QUB Research and Enterprise in partnership with University of Ulster, and will be delivered by the Set Squared Partnership. Set Squared run the very successful, ICURe university pre-accelerator programme in England and Wales.‌

‌All Lean LaunchPad NI projects will require a team. The ideal team will typically be three individuals - the “Rower” (such as an Early Career Researcher)  a Principal Investigator  and an external business mentor. There is an expectation that the majority of the customer discovery activities will be carried out by the Rower. Research and Enterprise will be flexible on the team’s accepted for the LLPNI programme. We may also be able to assist you to fill in gaps with your team.

The programme will involve an initial day and a half bootcamp, followed by a 6 week customer discovery and validation programme. There will be all team meetups for evening progress clinics during weeks 2 and 4 where teams will update on their customer discovery efforts and the impact it has had on their value proposition, and receive feedback, input and direction from a faculty of business experts. The programme will close with an options roundabout day, where the teams will present their learnings to the programme delivery team and the faculty of business experts and receive feedback as to where the commercial opportunity should go from here.

The previous programme ran from March to June 2017. It is hoped that the programme will be repeated later in the year.
For further information on the Lean LaunchPad NI Programme, please contact Darach Neeson