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Queen's leads the way for ICURe's Commercialising Research Programme

Queen's University Belfast leads the way for ICURe's Commercialising Research Programme in Northern Ireland, Scotland and North of England

ICURe  Programme’s additional funding boost will aim to create 24 new spinout companies as well as supporting over 2,000 engagements with companies worldwide.

An £8 million funding boost to the ICURe pilot programme sees Queen’s University Belfast become an additional delivery partner to run Phase 2 of the ICURe pilot programme alongside and in partnership with the SETsquared group of universities.

ICURe is a programme of commercialisation support for teams of academic researchers wishing to explore the commercial potential of their research. It aims to improve commercial awareness amongst academic personnel, to develop and enhance the entrepreneurial skills of early career researchers, and to strengthen links between academic and industrial communities.

ICURe’s focus is on training early-career researchers to find the right route to commercialisation and helping them develop the necessary business skills, connections and expertise. It aligns with government’s Industrial Strategy, which emphasises the importance of research, innovation and skills to develop a strong economy and ensure Britain leads the high-tech, highly-skilled industries of the future.

The £8 million expansion of the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) pilot programme will allow even more commercially-promising ideas to get to market more quickly. The funding sees Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Warwick join the programme, which is supported by Innovate UK, part of the new national funding body UK Research and Innovation.

Business Secretary, Greg Clark said:

“Through the Industrial Strategy, the 4 grand challenges, and the funding announced today, we are helping turn innovative new ideas into products and services which could help change our lives and keep the UK as a world leader in developing the products of tomorrow.”

ICURe is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The ICURe programme is piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and Innovate UK, and funded by BEIS and offers university researchers with commercially-promising ideas up to £50k (£35k + £15k) to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their ideas in the marketplace.

The 2018-19 ICURe pilot (Phase 2 extension) builds on the success of the original pilot and will continue to focus on commercially-promising research projects undertaken at all UK universities. ICURe will fund teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, science or technology. Read more about evaluation of the pilot programme here.

Queen’s University Belfast has brought together a consortium consisting of 4 universities and a consultancy firm that specialises in the commercialisation of academic research to deliver Phase 2 of the ICURe Project in the North, Northern Ireland and Scotland over the next 12 months. The Delivery Partner team complement the skills, expertise and experience required for the successful delivery of the ICURe Programme in these regions. Known as ‘North by Northwest’ (NxNW), the Delivery Partner consortium includes the Queen’s University of Belfast, QUBIS Ltd, (Lead Partner); University of Liverpool; Ulster University and the University of Leeds and Helix Innovation Partnerships Ltd.

Dr Paul Donachy, Head of Commercial Development at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Queen’s has a strong track-record of generating economic impact from its research being one of the top UK Universities for income generated from Intellectual Property (IP)* and is leading the way with lean start-up in tech transfer.

Working closely with QUBIS Ltd., we have had 9 teams graduate from ICURe where the focus on the customer-need is the perfect antidote to technology-push.  We have already seen significant commercial benefits, whether measured by deals done, or learnings achieved.  This unique programme provides early-career researchers with the vital opportunity to engage with businesses worldwide to help validate their ideas in the market.

We’re now keen to work with our partners Universities to accelerate ICURe adoption across Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North of England. This is a key initiative for rebalancing the UK innovation economy.”

Queen’s University Belfast is currently 4th in the HEBCI-S rankings for research commercialisation performance within Russell Group universities* and currently there are 1,900 people employed in 40 Active spin-out companies.


Communications Office, Queen's University Belfast: Tel  028 9097 3091 or