For staff


Deliver impact with your research and ‘get out of the lab’. ICURe NxNW offers university researchers with commercially promising ideas up to £35,000 to validate their idea in the marketplace with the aim of maximising the impact of their research.  


Win up to £30,000 to test your idea!

“Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research” (ICURe) is a 4-month online customer discovery programme designed using lean start-up methodology and funded by Innovate UK.

It trains, funds and supports teams led by university early-career researchers to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, science or technology. Each successful team will receive up to £30,000 of funding to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their commercially-promising ideas in the marketplace.

ICURe Goes Online

Due to the current circumstances, the programme has been updated to allow customer discovery activities to be undertaken using remote working. Thetraining will be carried out The training activities will be carried out online.This means that the programme is more accessible to a wider range of applicants, and we encourage applications from those who may have been unable to participate in previous years. The programme has been extended to become a 4-month journey, due to the challenges of remote working, and has an amended balance of funding – meaning there is more for salary and less for travel.

Very worthwhile experience, pushes you out of the comfort zone into business environment. Incredibly valuable to understanding the worth of your research.

Michelle RaeResearch Associate, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health 

How does it work?

ICURe takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test, evaluate) and applies it to business ideas. You will learn how to use this approach to test what your potential customers think about your idea, product or service. In addition, the ECRs will receive training and interview practice, carrying out over 100 interviews and acquiring transferrable business and social skills. Past participants say that having 3 months of support, dedicated time and funding to spend on customer discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation.

Through ICURe you will receive funding and support to explore commercialising your research. The programme also offers researchers with innovative ideas:


  • Funding support up to £30,000
  • Support to cover 4 months' salary and market discovery activities. Selected teams will have the opportunity to access further support and apply for up to follow-on funding from InnovateUK.
  • Access to experts in bringing research to market
  • Access to our team of experts and proactive connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors and funders.
  • Game changing online delivery
  • Programme allowing you to work flexibly enabling connection with customers worldwide.
  • Access to market Intelligence
  • Support of the development of a personalised report which will include data about your potential customers, competitors and suppliers plus a comprehensive overview of the intellectual property landscape for your sector.

The ICURe process


Bootcamp Training

Intensive 4 day online bootcamp where you will learn how to talk about your technology to customers, develop a value proposition and identify your customers’ needs. You will also create a detailed plan for your customer discovery journey.

4 months of Market Validation

You will plan and execute 4 months of tailored market discovery for your idea, product or service based on face to face meetings where possible or online software, video conferencing and marketing tools. You will receive coaching clinics from experts in taking research ideas to market. This will involve targeting direct conversations with over 100 business leaders.

Pitch training

1 day online pitch training to teach you how to pitch your ideas to potential customers and investors.

Options Roundabout Pitches

The opportunity to pitch to an experienced panel of funders, stakeholders and investors to help accelerate the impact from your research.

Business planning/license pack development support

Following the options roundabout, selected teams will receive 3 further months of support to plan their new business, attract investment, apply for follow-on funding from InnovateUK and form their start-up company.

The other route that can be identified during the Options Roundabout is to develop a licencing pack. Activities would include developing an appropriate plan to target customers to license the technology, enable conversations between potential licensees and the University and negotiate a licencing deal to ensure that the technology is commercialised.


ICURe is a challenge which gives an excellent boost for career and personal development. It reassured me that what I am doing is of great interest to industry and gave a perspective on other limitations we didn’t think of.

Maryia TrubitsynaPostdoctoral Research Associate, Rosser Laboratory

Being able to participate in the ICURe program was an amazing experience! it helped me to understand important aspects of market and regulations in order to fit our technology in the production chain.

Marisol Ochoa-Villarreal PhDLoake Group, the University of Edinburgh, School of Biological Sciences


Who is eligible?

ICURe is open to all University early career researchers (from PhD to post-doctoral researchers) from across the UK. To apply, each early career researcher needs to build a team that includes their Principal Investigator, an Entrepreneurial Business Advisor and a representative from their University Technology Transfer Office (TTO).

We are committed to improving diversity across our programmes and are actively seeking applications from under-represented groups. With the change to on-line delivery and remote customer discovery, this ICURe programme is suitable for applicants who would be unable to travel extensively.

How do I apply?

Link to the application form. 

You will be asked a series of questions about you, your team and your project. All applications will go through a competitive selection process. You MUST have engaged with Edinburgh Innovations (Enterprise Development Team) and your Principal Investigator prior to applying. Help can be given in finding a suitable business mentor if required.

The next upcoming deadline for applications to be received is 12pm GMT 6 July 2020, and this is for the cohort managed through Set Squared, based at Southampton.  Following on from that, the next ICURe deadline is for another NxNW cohort, on 10 August 2020. (subject to final confirmation)

If you have any further questions please direct them to Veronica Ferguson, Enterprise Executive,

Team Applications

The programme will accept applications from teams based at all UK universities for the next deadline. There are no restrictions upon which discipline, HE institution or part of the UK that can apply as long as they have the required team members.

Team Requirements:

Post Doc/ Junior Researcher –must be an early career researcher and be able to commit Full-Time for 4 months (plus an additional 4 months if selected for Innovate UK Follow-on Fund) on the programme starting the week of the bootcamp and MUST be employed by the university for the length of the programme. The period will end on the week of the Options Roundabout.

Senior Researcher – MUST be able to attend the whole bootcamp and options roundabout and be willing to support the programme throughout the 4-month period.

Business Adviser motivated to offer expert guidance and support. Teams are strongly encouraged to name an adviser in their application, from a relevant industrial sector. If you do not already have an appropriate person, the Edinburgh Innovations team will provide assistance to help you identify one.

Technology Transfer Officer – MUST attend the bootcamp and options roundabout as well as support the ECR and team during the ICURe programme and continue to support the further commercialisation following the ICURe programme.


Successful applicants to the ICURe programme will receive a budget of up to £30k for Stages 1 through 3.

This funding is not a grant, and there is no money paid up front. Money will be drawn down against expenditure through your School’s finance office. If this is not agreed then the team will not progress on the programme.

Eligible expenses covered by the programme are:

Early Career Researcher’s Salary costs (including university pension and NI contributions). Salary provided will match the Early Career Researcher’s current salary. There is no additional amount paid.

Early Career Researcher's travel (where possible), digital resources required to conduct interviews and find contacts, resources and assistance to validate possible markets where travel is not possible, attendance at trade shows (including online events) during Stage 2 – Market Validation.

Those teams going on to prepare business plans and an application to the Innovate UK follow-on fund will receive a budget of up to £15k for Stage 4 to fund the ECR's salary for a further three months. This would allow the team to explore two options: (1) business planning and (2) license pack development to ensure that the technology is commercialised in the best way possible.

Please note: given the changing circumstances around travel and face-to-face meetings, ICURe Cohort programmes and allowable expenses will continue to evolve during 2020-2021. Definitive eligibility with respect to travel and resources during Stage 2 will be that agreed in the budget and action plan at the end of the relevant Bootcamp Training. Expense eligibility criteria may vary for each team and each cohort dependent on circumstances.

Please complete the application form clearly and concisely, remembering that the review panel may not be experts in the field of your technology. Please ensure you follow the word count guide. Sections with * must be completed. Before sending in your application, please ensure all members of the team are available on the dates of the cohort bootcamp and your TTO is aware and supportive of your application. You will hear whether your application has been successful only a very short time before the bootcamp

Further information

To learn more, please contact Veronica Ferguson, Enterprise Executive at Edinburgh Innovations.