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


  1. Expression of Interest (EOI) closing date: 12th March 2018
  2. Business Model Canvas training: 20 March 2018  - 10:00 - 3:00, InvestNI HQ, Bedford Square
  3. Full applications closing date: 13th April 2018 
  4. Faculty assessment panels: w/c 16th April 2018
  5. Submission to InvestNI - Friday 27th April 2018
  6. Outcomes - anticipated July 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 third of the QUB calls for applications will open on 28th February 2018. 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.  

In addition to this forthcoming call, there will be a consultation on ideas for the Digital Dissemination and Transformation in April 2018.

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 launch programme

The Commercialisation team at Research and Enterprise are looking for university teams with commercially promising research, and who want the opportunity to learn and practise lean startup philosophies and customer discovery techniques 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 Launch Programme NI is an 8 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 additional funding upon successful completion of the programme for
            opportunities that merit it.

Graduates of past cohorts have included spinouts Causeway Sensors, Green Lizard Technologies, Phion Therapeutics and Xenobics Ltd, which have gone on to raise investment, secure grant funding, win awards and gain traction in their respective markets.

The programme is being run by QUB Research and Enterprise in partnership with University of Ulster, and will be delivered by the SETsquared Partnership. SETsquared run the leading university focused pre-accelerator in the UK, the Innovate UK backed ICURe programme.

All LLPNI projects will require a team. The ideal team will typically be three individuals - the “Entrepreneurial Lead” (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 Entrepreneurial lead. Research and Enterprise will be flexible on the teams accepted for the LLPNI 2018. We may also be able to assist you to fill in gaps with your team, particularly in identifying an appropriate Business Mentor for the Programme. Each team will also receive the support of a Technology Transfer Officer from the QUB Commercialisation Team on the programme.

The programme will involve an initial 2 day bootcamp, followed by a 7 week customer discovery and validation programme. There will be all team meetups for 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 the LLPNI delivery team. The teams will also be connected into a faculty of business experts who will be able to provide support, guidance and potentially open doors for the teams to other useful contacts. 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.

Application timeline is as follows:

1.         Applications Open: Monday 12th February 2018
2.         Information Briefing for Interested Applicants - Tuesday 13th February 2018 12:45 to
            2pm, TR7 QUB Graduate School
3.         Application closing date: 4pm Friday 23rd February 2018
4.         Notification of Successful Applicants: 28th February 2018

Key Programme Dates are as follows:

1.         Bootcamp 13th and 14th March 2018 - Two full days
2.         Progress Clinics 1: 27th March 2018 - One to One slots plus group learning session
3.         Progress Clinic 2: 11th April 2018 - One to One slots plus group learning session
4.         Options Roundabout Training: 27th April 2018 - Full day
5.         Options Roundabout Day – 10th May 2018- 45min slot per Team
6.         Graduation/Awards Evening – 10th May 2018

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.

Please submit a copy of the completed application form to:

Darach Neeson, Spinout Manager:

Once the application is submitted, the Lean Launch Programme NI application review panel will consider all applications and identify the projects that best meet the programme requirements. You will be notified of the outcome of your application by 28th February 2018.

For further information on the Lean Launch Programme NI, please contact Darach Neeson