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InvestNI Proof of Concept

Proof of Concept (PoC)

The Invest NI-funded Proof of Concept (PoC) programme has been renewed and it is restarting after a pause due to the Covid-19 restrictions. The next PoC applications will be submitted to INI in September 2021.

The PoC 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. Projects will be expected to have emerged from a high-quality, progenitor scientific study where the grant award was subject to peer review.

INI require that all projects carry out some initial customer discovery work to start the validation of the assumptions made. The purpose of this is to provide evidence of market demand or unmet needs in their sector for the technological solution they are offering, or that they are capable of pivoting their technology to fit with what customers, licensees, etc. are looking for.

The outcomes of the customer discovery work will need to be included into the main PoC application and it is important that these are presented clearly and that they are clearly being incorporated into the proposed project.

There are two main options for programmes to support customer discovery work. The first is to apply for INI funded PoC Stage 1. Alternatively, an application can be made to the LLP course.

Previous participation in an ICURe or LLP course for the proposed technology or project in the last 12 months is also considered to be relevant and acceptable. Please contact the Commercial Development Team to discuss which option would be best for each particular circumstance.

PoC Stage 2 is the main part of the programme where funding can be provided to carry out technical developments and commercialisation activities. This now has no  official funding limits but the expectation is projects would have a total value between £100,000 and £150,000. Applicants are expected to prepare a work programme which will represent a valuable and well-defined advance in technological development, such that a go / no go decision could be made as to whether commercialisation can proceed beyond the project, and which routes toward market might be available. As a rough guide, projects most commonly support salary for one researcher for around 12 months; potentially up to 18 months might be possible if this is objectively justified by the key milestones of the project. Projects will be scrutinised by the external appraisers and Invest NI on the basis that the level of support requested should be commensurate with work programme objectively required to reach this value inflection point.

As in previous rounds, the commercial strand will run in parallel to the technical work, starting before and continuing after the technical strand. The Commercial Development team can assist with planning and costing these activities. It will be expected that the commercial strand will account for at least 25% of the total project costs.

All proposals must have the endorsement of and be submitted to INI on your behalf by the Commercial Development Team. All proposals must have approval from their Head of School and must have submitted a QUB Innovation Disclosure Form.

 

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

MHLS Faculty – Matthew Wilson m.wilson@qub.ac.uk

ECIT – please contact your Business Development Team in the first instance

Other EPS & AHSS – Jason Wiggins j.wiggins@qub.ac.uk

Timetable

1

31st May 2021           LLP applications open

2 10th August      Information briefing with INI: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/proof-of-concept-scheme-funding-opportunities-for-qub-researchers-tickets-159862959415
3

13th September         Final draft applications due for QUB internal review (at 12 noon)

4

24th September         Submission to INI

5 INI plan to assess the projects in October and November. It is anticipated that any approved Stage 1 Customer Discovery projects would start in late October or early November and approved Stage 2 projects would start in December 2021 or January 2022.

Future Calls

The dates of future calls have not yet been confirmed but the expectation is the next PoC calls will close in November 2021 and March 2022.

Useful Documents and Links

The PoC Application Forms will be made available shortly