The helix Way


UK-wide bio science pre-accelerator helping teams validate their business ideas.  

BBSRC ICURe trains, funds, and supports research teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their bioscience-based ideas, research, science, and technologies. Up to £25k of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace

How Does It Work?

BBSRC ICURe takes the scientific method (hypothesise, test, evaluate) and applies it to commercialisation. You will learn how to use this approach to test what your potential customers think about your idea, product, or service. In addition, you will receive training and interview practice, carrying out over 100 interviews and acquiring transferrable business and social skills. 

Past participants say that having ICURe support, training, and funding to spend on customer discovery has dramatically changed their perspective on their innovation. 

What Does It Include?

Funding support up to £25,000

Support to cover up to 3-months salary and customer discovery activities. Selected teams will have the opportunity to access further support and follow-on funding from InnovateUK. 

Access to experts in bringing research to market

Weekly access to our team of experts and proactive connections to our network of entrepreneurs, investors and funders.

Game changing online delivery

Our online delivery means that you can contribute to the programme flexibly at times that suit you.

Market Explorer

A personalised report which includes data about your potential customers, competitors and suppliers plus a comprehensive overview of the intellectual property landscape for your sector.

Bootcamp Training

Intensive 4-day online bootcamp where you will learn how to talk about your technology to customers, develop a hypothetical business model and identify your customers’ pain points. You will also create a detailed plan of your customer discovery journey. 

3 months of Market Validation

You will plan and execute 3 months of tailored customer discovery for your idea, product or service using online software platforms, videoconferencing and marketing tools. You will receive weekly 1-hour coaching clinics from experts in taking research ideas to market.

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 support

Following the options roundabout, selected teams can receive further support and be eligible to apply for follow-on funding from InnovateUK.

License planning support

Following the options roundabout, selected teams can receive further support to help conculde a commercial transaction in the form of a license agreement or industry funded collaborative R&D agreement. 

Who is eligible?

BBSRC ICURe is open to research teams in all UK universities, BBSRC-funded institutes and approved public sector research enterprises (PSREs). 

The research underpinning the products or services being carried forward by the research team MUST be building on a previous BBSRC or other UKRI grant that is taking forward a bioscience innovation to address a market opportunity. 

We are committed to improving diversity across our programmes and are actively seeking applications from under-represented groups and non-Russell Group Universities. The spread across different target market sectors will also be considered when selecting applications to ensure broad portfolio coverage. 

We actively encouraging applications led by Entrepreneurial Leads who are from under-represented groups including women, people of colour, those living with disabilities and those from the LGBTQI+ communities.

We cannot accept applications based upon a research project that has previously been through the ICURe programme. 

Your Team

BBSRC ICURe teams are composed of four individuals: 

Entrepreneurial Lead: Any research staff or technical research staff member that receives their salary or stipend from an eligible university, PSRE or institute (including, but not limited to, PhD, technician, PDRA, fellowship and group leader positions). This individual MUST be able to commit Full-Time for the duration of the programme starting the week of the bootcamp. 

Associated Science advisor: A researcher who can provide intellectual support to the entrepreneurial lead throughout the course of the programme, for example and interdisciplinary project may require input from outside the research group. 

Technology Transfer representative/professional An individual from the team, either from, or contracted to, the RO leading on the commercialisation of the intellectual asset with appropriate technology transfer expertise. This individual Officer (TTO) MUST be able to attend essential online bootcamp sessions as well as the options roundabout. In addition, provide support for the Entrepreneurial Lead and team during the LLP programme and continued support for further commercialisation activity following the programmes conclusion. 

Business Adviser – A motivated individual from a relevant industrial sector to offer expert guidance and support. Teams are strongly encouraged to name an adviser in their application. Please contact the ICURe administration team if identifying a suitable advisor is a barrier. Teams are responsible for any agreements or financial arrangements that may be needed with their Business Advisers. 

“ICURe allowed me to meet big companies like Microsoft and Google as well as smaller companies and charities.”

Dr Howard Moshtael, University of Edinburgh
Creator of SmartScroll, Physicist and Engineer
ICURe 2019

How Do I Apply?

The online application form will ask you a series of questions about you, your team and your project. 

All applications will go through a competitive selection process and the Entrepreneurial Lead and Associated Science Advisor will be required to participate in individual scheduled video interviews as part of that process. Your application must have been agreed with your organisation prior to applying, including that you can commit to the programme fulltime.  

(TTO), a business mentor and your Principal Investigator prior to applying.

“It’s been really important at these early stages to engage with the market to find out what they want.

Dr Chistina O’Neill, Queen’s University Belfast
Stem cell researcher and ICURe 2018

£25k Support package

Support to cover 3 months’ salary and customer discovery activities, as follows

Salary  – Up to £15,000 support to cover 3 months EL salary.

Activities – Up to £10,000 support for 

Market validation tools & idea testing support  

Travel & subsistence

Business Adviser

Have you got questions about the programme?

We’d love to hear from you with any questions you have about the programme or how it works.  
Click the button below to email Deirdre Hughes, our Programme Administrator. re