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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.


Innovation Programmes Team 1.0

  • Student and Graduate Enterprise

    We provide students and graduates with enterprise opportunities and experiences. We seek to enrich student and graduate experiences by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills, whilst exploring their potential for commercialisation irrespective of study/research discipline. As a result, learners should be better positioned to work in their chosen field having gained a commercial focus.

    The following programmes are open to students interested in commercialise 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).

    QUest is a game-changing customer discovery programme that allows students and recent graduates to rapidly test whether there is a market for the products or services they would like to launch. The bespoke programme will offer 12-15 lucky students and recent graduates expert training, mentoring and coaching from an expert team. This programme can open up doors to investment, networks, IP expertise and further opportunities and has been transformative in terms of helping start-ups prosper in recent years. The programme runs from June – November, applications are currently closed and will open 2024 and more information can be found 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. The overview of the programmes shows the details on each and upcoming coming programmes shows which programmes are open for applications and their closing dates.

    Conception X
    Conception X is a UK leading PhD deeptech venture programme, they support PhD students to launch research backed startups focused on long term impact. The programme runs over nine months and is designed to run alongside your PhD. It includes business and technology coaching, deeptech entrepreneurial training, events and a demo day for finalists. Cohort 7 applications open later this year to begin in March 2024.

    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:

  • Academic Enterprise

    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.

    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.

  • Corporate Enterprise

    The Innovation Programmes Team at Queens operate a growing number of corporate sponsored programmes and also programmes aimed at SMEs. Stimulating start-ups 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.

    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. 

    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.

  • Digital Transformation

    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. 

Innovation Programmes Team


Programmes Opening Soon

If you want to work upon skill development, get proper training for commercialisation or need help with funding opportunities, we have opportunity coming up the whole year. Please check them below!

Case Studies

Working closely with the Commercial Development and QUBIS Teams, the Innovation Programmes Team have offered multiple initiatives that have resulted in licensed opportunities, stimulated start-ups and scaled Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs). Take a look at some examples.

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.

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