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Innovation networks funding

If you want to engage with multiple external stakeholders to nurture partnerships and form an interdisciplinary community you could get funding to establish an innovation network.

What are innovation networks?

Innovation networks can help you build communities of practice to:

  • share and discuss common industry and technological challenges and opportunities, focusing on ‘market pull’ factors
  • foster and develop collaboration between industry and UCL
  • develop readiness and confidence to build joint research-based projects and solutions
  • provide a forum for knowledge exchange on problem-oriented topics, innovative solutions and thought leadership in a pre-competitive or collaborative environment 

Innovation networks provide a broad range of knowledge exchange among diverse groups focused on a particular technological market segment or problem-oriented topic. 

Who it’s for

All UCL staff can apply, including academic, research and professional services staff from any department.

What projects could qualify

Your proposal will need to:

  • engage with non-academic users or collaborators, such as businesses, public sector services, charities or the wider public
  • show how you'll bring their input or expertise back into the project and UCL
  • show how your project will contribute to society or the economy and the impact you'll be generating 
  • show how your project builds on your work at UCL

Projects should include a range of activities, such as: 

  • developing an appropriate network governance structure
  • defining a long-term strategy, including your business model and long-term sustainability  
  • running networking events 
  • designing and delivering workshops, roundtables or working groups
  • informing public policy 

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

What funding is available

You can apply for up to £30,000 from the Research England Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) for projects lasting up to 12 months.

When to apply

Applications are currently closed. Further calls will be announced in due course.

Submissions received outside published call dates will not be considered.

How to apply

We'd encourage you to speak to our Innovation Network Manager, Laura Bovo (l.bovo@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. Fill in the web application form on our online portal. (You'll need your UCL login.) Please use the General Knowledge Exchange option, ensuring that you answer the questions as indicated in the guidance.

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 if this is helpful. But applications must be submitted via the web application form (emailed applications will not be accepted).

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 UCL Innovation & Enterprise Funding Committee will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Executive Director, UCL Innovation & 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 sources

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2020-22
  • Research England, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)

Case study

Onya McCausland, Five Colours, Five Landscapes, 2018 © Onya McCausland and University College London. Photo by Anna Betts
Creating paints from coal waste: the arts and sciences join forces at UCL

When Onya McCausland visited a former coalfield in Lancashire, she found both a source of materials for her paintings and a potential business idea.