Innovation & Enterprise


Discovery-to-use funding

Work with a non-academic partner to apply your research in industry and move your work from its early stages towards a practical use that benefits society, with EPSRC IAA funding.

Who it’s for

You'll be a UCL researcher who's identified an opportunity to maximise the impact of your work by commercialising your research and/or partnering with a non-academic organisation.

What projects could qualify

The types of activities you can get funding for include:

  • extending the use of an industrial technology 
  • improving an industrial process or product
  • developing a prototype
  • exploring commercialisation opportunities for your research
  • developing a tool that tackles a social issue

Your proposal will need to:

  • show how it maximises the impact of EPSRC-funded research
  • feature research that’s ready to move towards a practical use
  • show how both partners will share their expertise and benefit from the collaboration
  • show there's a clear benefit to the UK arising from the project (both UK and international collaborations are welcome)

Further details on eligibility requirements can be found in our funding scheme guide (Word).

What funding is available

You can apply for between £10,000 and £100,000 for projects lasting a minimum of 3 months, and running between 28 September 2020 and 31 March 2022. There will be no possibility of extension past this end date.

Where applicable, your external partner must make a cash or in-kind contribution. This should be at least 25% (with the other 75% coming from the EPSRC IAA). Projects with reduced contributions may be considered where the partner is a governmental, charity or other not-for-profit body or an SME, and the project is deemed to be highly impactful.

In exceptional cases, we'll consider projects that are not yet at the stage where they can engage a partner organisation, or the intention of the project is exclusively to explore pathways to commercialise your research. You'll have to develop a strong case to justify the absence of partner support and include this in your application form. The maximum available for this is £50,000.

When to apply

You can apply between 29 June and 17 July 2020 (for projects starting on or after 28 September).

You'll hear the outcome of your application by 3 September.

We expect to open further calls during the following dates:

  • 14 September to 2 October 2020 (for projects starting on or after 14 December)
  • 23 November to 11 December 2020 (for projects starting on or after 8 March 2021)

Note that these dates may change. All projects must end by 31 March 2022.

Further calls will be announced in due course, but the number will be limited due to the complexity and duration of these projects.

Submissions received outside published call dates will not be considered.

How to apply

We'd encourage you to speak to the Knowledge Exchange team (knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk) for advice on shaping your application and its eligibility. We strongly encourage you to do so at the earliest opportunity, irrespective of the stage of development of your project. 

  1. Read our funding scheme guide (Word) for advice on completing your application and details of the documents we’ll need to see.
  2. Read our guide to using the web application form (Word), and what information you'll need to have to hand before starting.
  3. Prepare the costing spreadsheet (Excel).
  4. Fill in the web application form on our online portal. (You'll need your UCL login.)

After you’ve started to fill in the web application form, you can save and return to it as many times as you need before submitting. Note that only one person can access the form.

You can use the application template (Word) to share information with co-investigators or other colleagues but emailed applications will not be accepted

If you have any feedback on the web form, please send to knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk so we can improve the process.

After you apply

  1. Your proposal will be assessed by the Knowledge Exchange team to assess its eligibility and make sure it matches the funding criteria. 
  2. If it does, at least three members of innovation-engaged UCL staff will review it. Your application will be assessed on its suitability for the scheme, feasibility, and potential for impact.
  3. For applications over £15,000, the Innovation & Enterprise Funding Committee will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Vice-Provost (Enterprise) on whether to award or decline. She’ll make the final decision. For applications up to £15,000, the Knowledge Exchange team will make the final decision. The same criteria are applied in both cases.

Funding source

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2020-21.