Innovation & Enterprise


Proof of concept / early stage commercialisation funding

Test, de-risk or show the commercial potential of your idea with funding from Research England’s Higher Education Innovation Fund or the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Who it’s for

UCL academic staff working in any subject discipline and at any stage in their careers can apply.

What projects could qualify

Your proposal will need to:

  • build on research and/or teaching at UCL
  • work towards a defined commercial outcome, for example licensing your IP
  • have a social or economic benefit 

The types of activities you can get funding for include:

  • commissioning external consultants, advisors and service providers
  • paying for design, prototype development and manufacturing

Further details on eligibility requirements can be found in our knowledge exchange and innovation funding guide (Word).

If you apply for BBSRC IAA funds you'll also need to demonstrate how your proposed activity aligns with the BBSRC Portfolio.

You’ll need to work with UCL Business (UCLB) before applying. We’ll ask UCLB for their views on the project after submission. You can find your UCLB business manager on the UCLB website.

How much you can apply for

You can apply for up to £30,000 from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) or the BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2022-25.

Please contact the Knowledge Exchange Team (knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk) to check the most appropriate funding source for your application.

When your project can start

If you applied in the last call, the earliest you can start:

  • 10 May 2024 for HEIF projects
  • 21 May 2024 for BBSRC IAA projects

For HEIF projects, funding can cover up to 12 months of activity but shorter projects with an ability to spend their funds by 31 July 2024 will be given priority. 

For BBSRC IAA projects, funds must be spent fully by 31 March 2025. Projects can be of any length, so long as they end by 31 March 2025.

When to apply

Applications are currently closed.

If you applied in the last call, you’ll find out if you’re successful by Friday, 26 April.

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 knowledge exchange and innovation funding guide (Word) for advice on completing your application and details of the documents we’ll need to see. 
  2. Get in touch with the UCLB business manager for your department as early as possible (at least a week before submission). Find them on the main UCLB website.
  3. Read our guide to using the web application form (Word), and what information you'll need to have to hand before starting.
  4. Fill in the web application form on our online portal. (You'll need your UCL login. Only one person can access the form. You can save and return to the form at any time.)

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).

If you’d like to discuss your project or the application process, contact the funding team at knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk

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, it will be reviewed independently by three innovation-engaged UCL staff. Your application will be assessed on its suitability for the scheme, feasibility, and potential for impact.
  3. For applications up to £20,000, the Knowledge Exchange team will make the final decision based on the reviewers’ recommendations. For applications over £20,000, 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. They’ll make the final decision. The same criteria are applied in both cases.

Funding source

  • Research England, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2022-25.