Innovate UK ICURe EXPLORE is a 12-week full-time market exploration programme. It provides financial support up to £35,000 for an Entrepreneurial Lead’s salary, assumption testing, and customer discovery activities. This programme is aimed at helping research teams from across the UK to explore technology applications and test value propositions through extensive market engagement globally.

The ICURe Explore programme is designed using lean start-up methodology and funded by Innovate UK. Lean start-up takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test, evaluate) and applies it to business ideas. Your team will learn how to use this approach to test what your potential customers think about your idea, product, or service.

Past participants say that having three months of commercialisation support, dedicated time, and funding to spend on customer discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation.

What’s Included?

  • £35,000 support (Max) for the salary of the Entrepreneurial Lead to participate full-time over the 12 weeks, and expenses associated with testing key market assumptions and market exploration.
  • Access to our team of experts and proactive
    connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors and funders. 
  • Membership of a national community of past participants and graduates.
  • Up to 5 days of intensive bootcamp training on how to develop a hypothetical business model and identify your customers’ pain points.
  • Test value propositions through extensive market engagement.
  • Opportunity to access further support and apply for up to £300,000 of ICURe Exploit funding from Innovate UK*.
  • Undertake deep in-market research of supply chain, regulators, customers and competitors.
  • You will plan and execute 3 months of tailored market discovery for your idea, product or service using online software platforms, video conferencing and marketing tools.
  • Following the programme, selected teams will enter the Exploit phase of ICURe, where they will receive up to 12 weeks of full-time intensive support*.

*Subject to receiving a recommendation at Options Roundabout and Visa restrictions.

Why Attend?

Our pioneers get access to leading university resources, and fantastic networks of mentors and investors who join them early on their journey. We’re de-risking very exciting technologies which have enormous potential to change the world for the better.​

Who is eligible?

ICURe Explore is open to research teams in the UK excluding those from incorporated and/or trading companies. This includes, but is not limited to, UK researchers in a public or academic lab, a research institute, an incubator, or a national facility.

We particularly welcome applications from Universities in Wales. We are committed to improving diversity across our programmes and are actively seeking applications from under-represented groups including women, people of colour, those with disabilities, those from the LGBTQI+ communities, and Universities who have not previously participated in our programmes.

Your team: 

Applications for ICURe Explore should be made by a team of four consisting of:

  • Entrepreneurial Lead: Any research staff, or technical research staff member, that receives their salary or stipend from an eligible university, PSRE, research institute, or organisation (including, but not limited to, Ph.D., technician, PDRA, fellowship, and group leader positions). NOTE: this individual must be able to commit full-time for the duration of the programme and have the approval of their institute, organisation, or funder at application stage. To be eligible for Innovate UK ICURe Exploit Funding, the entrepreneurial lead is expected to have a role in the new company and appear on its payroll.  
  • Principal Scientific Advisor: A more senior researcher who can provide intellectual support to the entrepreneurial lead throughout the programme. This individual must be able to attend the bootcamp and options roundabout.
  • Business Adviser: An experienced and motivated individual from a relevant industrial sector to offer expert guidance and support. Teams are encouraged to name an adviser in their application. However, if needed, we can help with the recruitment of this role. This individual should be independent of the organisation hosting the Entrepreneurial Lead and Principal Scientific Advisor. SA. For universities, the business adviser should be distinct from other roles within the ICURe Explore team.
  • Technology Transfer Officer (TTO):An individual with appropriate technology transfer expertise. from, or contracted to, the organisation responsible for the commercialisation of the intellectual asset This individual must be able to provide support to the team throughout the programme, attending all relevant sessions, and ensuring appropriate institutional buy in to enable further commercialisation activity following the programme’s conclusion. If you are a Technology Transfer Officer (TTO) from a university, you are encouraged to be a proactive member of the team as your skills, expertise and institutional knowledge are essential to achieving the best outcomes from the programme.

How do I apply?

The online application form will ask you a series of questions about you, your team, and your research project. It is a competitive process. You will need to have engaged with your team (i.e., Principal Scientific Advisor, Business Adviser, and Technology Transfer Officer) prior to applying.

Frequently Asked Questions

View Frequently Asked Questions on the ICURe Explore Programme

A pathway to Commercialisation 

ICURe trains, funds, and supports research teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their ideas, research, science, and technologies. Up to £35,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace.

Upcoming ICURe Explore Cohorts

NBIC ICURe Explore <br> September 2024 <br> Biofilms Focused

NBIC ICURe Explore
September 2024
Biofilms Focused

Applications Open: 24/05/2024
Applications Close: 05/07/2024
Start Date: 16/09/2024
Location: In person and online
Delivery Partner: SETsquared Partnership

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology. 

More Info
ICURe Explore <br> Electronics, Semiconductors, Photonics, Quantum, Cybersecurity and Firmware September 2024

ICURe Explore
Electronics, Semiconductors, Photonics, Quantum, Cybersecurity and Firmware September 2024

Applications Open: 24/05/2024
Applications Close: 05/07/2024
Start Date: 16/09/2024
Location: In person and online
Delivery Partner: SETsquared Partnership

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology. 

More Info
ICURe Explore September 2024

ICURe Explore September 2024

Applications Open: 01/07/2024
Applications Close: 19/08/2024
Start Date: 25/09/2024
Location: In-Person & Online
Delivery Partner: NxNW Partnership & The Helix Way

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology.

More Info
BBSRC ICURe Explore October 2024 – in partnership with Kidney Research UK and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

BBSRC ICURe Explore October 2024 – in partnership with Kidney Research UK and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Applications Open: 04/06/2024
Applications Close: 10/09/2024
Start Date: 16/10/2024
Location: In Person & Online
Delivery Partner: NxNW Partnership & The Helix Way

This programme is only open to Bioscience research teams.

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help bioscience research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology.

More Info
ICURe Explore <br> November 2024

ICURe Explore
November 2024

Applications Open: 09/09/2024
Applications Close: 07/10/2024
Start Date: 04/11/2024
Location: In Person & Online
Delivery Partner: Midlands Innovation

(Dates tentative and subject to change)

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology. 

More Info
ICURe Explore <br> Jan 2025

ICURe Explore
Jan 2025

Applications Open: 15/10/2024
Applications Close: 09/11/2024
Start Date: 14/01/2025
Location: In Person & Online
Delivery Partner: SETsquared Partnership

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology. 

More Info
BBSRC ICURe Explore January 2025 – in partnership with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

BBSRC ICURe Explore January 2025 – in partnership with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

Applications Open: 20/09/2024
Applications Close: 20/11/2024
Start Date: 15/01/2025
Location: Liverpool & Online
Delivery Partner: NxNW Partnership & The Helix Way

This programme is only open to Bioscience research teams.

12 weeks full-time programme with up to £35,000 funding available to help bioscience research teams get out of the lab and explore the commercial potential of their research/technology.

More Info

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