Midlands Innovation announced as collaborator in Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme

Midlands Innovation, a university collaboration of which Keele University is a proud partner, is to help researchers from across the UK get commercially promising ideas to the marketplace more quickly thanks to an £8 million funding boost, Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced.

Led by Warwick University, Midlands Innovation will join the expanded Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) pilot programme, supported by Innovate UK. The programme offers UK-based university researchers across the UK with innovative ideas up to £35,000 to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate these in the marketplace.

Having operated since 2014, it is estimated to date every £1 of investment spent through ICURe generates almost £4 of economic benefits, creating new jobs and businesses. The scheme has so far engaged 160 University research teams which have generated more than 11,000 business links around the world and, from these, created 120 jobs in 44 new companies in the UK.

In the coming year, the universities will work alongside the programme’s original delivery partner SETsquared Partnership (the commercialisation partnership of the Universities of Southampton, Surrey, Bristol, Bath and Exeter) to run and grow the programme across the UK – significantly boosting the local economy. The funding will increase the number of research teams supported up to a total of 48.

Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Research, Innovation & Engagement at Keele University, said: “The Government’s industrial strategy emphasises the importance of research, innovation and skills to developing a strong economy and setting a path to lead in the high-tech, highly-skilled industries of the future. 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 to pursue their ideas. Keele University is proud to be part of this ground-breaking project.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Britain is famous for its innovations. From the humble toothbrush to hip replacements, the ATM to the World Wide Web – these inventions have had a huge impact on our daily lives. Up and down the UK, some of the brightest and best talent are undertaking research which can deliver extraordinary innovations that will transform our society for the better.

“Through the Industrial Strategy, 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.”

In total, £3 million of this funding will help new start-up companies emerging from ICURe to establish a business and lay the foundations for growth. The funding will be competitively awarded by Innovate UK, which is part of the new national funding body UK Research and Innovation.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport said: “Supporting the very best talent and bridging the gap between research and commercialisation are two of UK Research and Innovation’s core objectives. We are a world-leading research nation and we must ensure that our innovation ecosystem supports the effective translation of this research into products with real-world impact.

“The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme enables this translation by providing researchers with the funding to move ideas out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact. From converting Medtech discoveries into new treatments to developing portable devices to counter infectious diseases, this additional funding will support ground-breaking projects that will enable us to meet future challenges and remain at the cutting-edge of research and innovation.”

SETsquared first created, designed and delivered ICURe working with Innovate UK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.