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Innovation Programmes

Queen’s University of Belfast is renowned for its innovation strengths and has been ranked as the UK's #1 university for commercialising research for two consecutive years (2019 & 2020). Innovation programmes play an increasingly important role in accelerating the translation of research into commercial and societal impact. 

Queen’s successfully delivers high-impact programmes across the island of Ireland, UK and Europe, for many of the key innovational agencies in those territories. From university focused research-to-commercialisation programmes, challenge-led programmes for specific sectors or scale-up innovation programmes for existing SMEs, Queen's, along with a vast network of partners, industry experts and mentors, is helping to build a innovation eco-system that is designed to tackle the urgent global, national and local economic & societal challenges we face.  


Our vision at Innovation Programmes is to help researchers make an impact outside of the lab by bridging the gap between university research and the market. Our market discovery programmes are designed to support researchers refine and validate the commercial potential of their business idea, assess their product-market fit and receive feedback on their business readiness. We are passionate about building the foundations of sustainable businesses that will make a long-lasting impact on society.



    Empowering students and graduates, we ignite enterprise opportunities and experiences. Our mission is to elevate student and graduate journeys, arming them with dynamic entrepreneurial skills that transcend study and research boundaries. Regardless of discipline, we champion the exploration of commercialisation potential. This transformative approach ensures learners not only gain valuable commercial focus but also emerge better equipped for success in their chosen fields.

    Unleash your potential through our programmes designed for students keen on commercialising their research. It is always advised to speak to your supervisor before completing any programme around commercialisation and be aware of any potential Intellectual Property (IP).


    Dive into a realm of possibilities with QUest, a groundbreaking customer discovery programme designed for students and recent graduates eager to rapidly test the market viability of their products or services. Tailored exclusively for 12-15 lucky students or graduates, this bespoke initiative provides unparalleled training, mentorship, and coaching from a team of seasoned experts. QUest is not just a programme; it's your key to unlocking doors to investments, networking opportunities, and IP expertise. Proven to be a catalyst for startup success, this transformative programme runs from June to November. To find out more about this programme and how to apply click HERE

    Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

    “Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research” (ICURe) is the UK's leading early stage research accelerator programme. It guides researchers through the process of refining and validating the commercial potential for some of the world's leading-edge science, technology and knowledge assets. The ICURe Engage and ICURe Discover programmes are open to Student Researcher applications. To find out more about the ICURe programmes and their suitability click HERE

    Conception X

    Embark on a transformative journey with Conception X, the leading PhD deeptech venture programme in the UK. Pioneering the way, we empower PhD students to propel research-backed startups focused on lasting impact. Running over nine months, this programmes seamlessly aligns with your PhD journey. Immerse yourself in comprehensive business and technology coaching, deeptech entrepreneurial training, engaging events, and culminate your experience with a demo day for finalists. To apply for this programme or to get more information click HERE 


    Start for Future (SFF) is an international network of entrepreneurial universities and incubators working together to transform universities to develop sustainable, innovative programmes that enable future leaders and change-makers. 

    The SFF network offers programmes for students, graduates and researchers that are flexible to allow to progress from one to the next or to directly join whichever programme is most suited. There is a specific Learn for Researchers programme aimed at researchers interested in learning more about commercialisation.

    If you would like more information on the support available across Queens for supporting student innovation and enterprise, please visit the InQUBate.

    Any questions, contact:


    All our academic staff and students have access to the training and development programmes run by Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with external partners. The programmes are fully funded by QUBIS and third parties. We work closely with talented academics, ambitious entrepreneurs, astute investors and a host of industry experts to form successful spin–off companies that combine cutting–edge research and development with market–focused products and services.

    Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

    Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research” (ICURe) is a 3-month full-time online customer discovery programme designed using lean start-up methodology and funded by Innovate UK. ICURe trains, funds, and supports teams led by university early-career researchers (ECRs) to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, science, or technology. Up to £35,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate these commercially promising ideas in the marketplace. To find out more about this programme click HERE

    UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF)

    Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) is a cross-UK Research and Innovation scheme enabling fellows to tackle ambitious and challenging research and develop their own careers. It offers long-term, flexible support, including the fellow's salary and research, staff and training costs, plus the opportunity of a permanent academic position on successful completion of the fellowship. For more information click HERE


    The Innovation Programmes Team at Queens operate a growing number of corporate sponsored programmes and also programmes aimed at SMEs. Stimulating startups and Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) will continue to be important, however, providing a support framework from both the private and public sector to help them survive and grow is now also crucial.

    Agri-Food: EIT Food Seedbed Incubator

    The pan-European EIT Food Seedbed programme is led by Queen’s and delivered in collaboration with leading EIT Food Partner Universities, corporates across Europe and Research and Innovation Organisations (Seedbed Hubs) from across Europe. Through knowledge transfer, Queen’s has provided their expertise in technology and product commercialisation to help these Hubs support entrepreneurs right across Europe to launch or progress a commercially viable business. For more information on this programme click HERE

    Scaling The Edge (SMEs)

    In collaboration with Innovate UK, Queen’s created an Intrapreneurship development Programme for SMEs based on a lean start-up methodology, design thinking, digital testing and data driven decision making. This methodology can radically change SMEs' approach to innovation thinking, particularly around new product development, product enhancement, and identifying new markets or applications for existing technologies and products. For more information on this programme click HERE

    Corporate-sponsored Market Discovery Programmes

    A spinout from QUB, was our first 'corporate sponsor' for a pre-accelerator programme. Kainos uses technology to solve real problems for our customers, overcome big challenges for businesses, and make people’s lives easier. With expertise in Digital Services and their Workday Practice, Kainos works globally for clients across healthcare, commercial and the public sector to make the world a little bit better, day by day.

    They have: 

    • Create real-world impact.
    • Engage with technical and industry experts
    • Receive funding to carry out market testing
    • Expand existing skillset into marketing and business.
    • Explore new funding opportunities.
    • Gain access to follow-on support and training in Investor Readiness, Licensing and other programmes.


    Our customer discovery programmes can be corporate sponsored, and this is a growing area of interest. Our first-ever corporate sponsored programme, a DigiHealth Pre-Accelerator, was sponsored by Kainos (a QUBIS Spin-out), Pioneer Group and IUK. If you are interested in corporate involvement in our innovation programmes, EMAIL US


    Working in collaboration with Technology Transfer Offices and investors across our diverse network, we are committed to driving not only economic, but also societal and environmental change through digital transformation. We aim to increase capabilities of TTOs; and help start-ups and spin-offs access funding by creating digital tools that will drive economic growth across our ecosystem

    EIT HEI Initiative- Innovation Capacity Building for High Education (EntreUnity)

    EntreUnity is a network of aspiring entrepreneurial European universities that concentrates on educating and training the next generation of agri-food, health and green-tech students in entrepreneurship and leadership. During this project a blue-print for a virtual TTO was developed. It focuses on early engagement with researchers and is complemented by automated workflows to alleviate administrative burden and increase capacities of TTO officers. For more information, click HERE


Case Studies

In close partnership with the Commercial Development and QUBIS Teams, our Innovation Programmes Team has been the driving force behind numerous initiatives. These efforts have not only led to valuable licensed opportunities but have also ignited the creation of innovative start-ups, fuelling the remarkable growth of Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs). Explore the details below!

ReproGo Ltd.

4 October, 2023

ReproGo Ltd, a Deep Tech startup originating from Queen's University Belfast, is at the forefront of advanced stem cell-based technology with a mission to drive the adoption of eco-friendly biomanufacturing practices in regenerative medicine.

Re-Vana Therapeutics

30 May, 2023

Re-Vana Therapeutics is a 2016 start up, a QUB spinout, developing innovative long-acting ocular drug delivery technologies. The technologies offer innovations on delivering drugs to the eye and so can improve treatment of unmet diseases.

AMPLY Discovery

10 May, 2023

AMPLY Discovery a QUB spin-out, using a proprietary in silico and in vitro hybrid platform to discover best-in-class molecules it is helping tackle some of humankind's greatest challenges such as cancer, MDR infections and metabolic diseases.

Bia Analytical Ltd

28 February, 2023

They have developed industry-leading, cutting-edge methods to detect substitution or food adulteration across the supply chain, focusing on developing methods to detect adulteration in high-value or volume commodities such as herbs, spices, rice

GenoMe Diagnostics

3 March, 2023

GenoME Diagnostics is a spin-out company from the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University Belfast. It focuses on the development of novel tests for early detection of diseases, using an affordable and scalable platform.

Deep Tech Summit 2023

The Innovation Programmes Team @ QUB recently held the Deep Tech Summit 2023 to help unlock the potential of NI Deep Tech to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. Through the MIT REAP Programme, a number of Deep Tech companies within NI undertook an intensive accelerator. The Summit event assisted in positioning the region as an attractive destination for capital investment and entrepreneurial talent. The Deep Tech Summit provided an unparalleled opportunity to pool resources, networks and expertise, elevating NI’s standing as a global incubator for Deep Tech innovation, spinouts and scale-ups. The event drew an international audience of speakers and attendees to Belfast in November. For more see here:

Latest Events


Innovation Programmes Team 1.0From Left: Dr Paul Donachy​​-Head of Innovation Programmes, Olivia Wilson-Programmes Administrator, Margot Bucaille-Digital Transformaton Lead, Sharon Morgan Young​-Innovation Manager (FLFDN), Dr Cecilia Hegarty-Innovation Programme Manager, Laura McGirr​-Innovation Centre Programme Manager, Peter Nawa​-Innovation Programme Manager