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Durham University

Research and Innovation Services

Northern Accelerator CCF

Northern Accelerator is a collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities to grow capacity and activity in the commercialisation of opportunities arising from high quality research funded by Research England. There are a number of initiatives under the Northern Accelerator umbrella. One of these provides £1.65m of funds to support promising new research outcomes to test their commercial viability. The programme managers encourage applications from researchers who are new to research commercialisation as well as more experienced colleagues. Northern Accelerator’s purpose is to bring a suite of support opportunities to help promising research outcomes reach commercial markets, therefore funding is available in two forms, feasibility awards and proof of concept awards.

Feasibility awards

Feasibility awards offer funding of up to £10,000. Example of activities Feasibility Awards can be used for include (but are not limited to):

  • understanding market requirements;
  • meeting potential commercial partners;
  • demonstration projects for potential partners;
  • travel and accommodation to attend trade events in the promotion of commercial outcomes.

This is not a definitive list, however, if the activities appear to be an extension of the existing research without a tangible commercial goal, the application will not be successful. These funds are for pre-incorporation ideas and not for existing spin out businesses.

Proof of concept awards

Proof of Concept Awards offer funding between £10,000 and £50,000. There is a provision for exceptional awards to be made up to £100,000 at the discretion of the awarding panel, however, these will require a significantly higher level of robust justification. Examples of the Proof of Concept activities are:

  • the development of a prototype device;
  • delivery of demonstration projects for commercial partners;
  • trial trading activity to assess market demand;
  • travel and accommodation to meet potential commercial partners or attend trade events;
  • buy out of academic salary time for project specific activities;
  • purchase of minor equipment and consumables needed to prove concept (limited to £1000 per item)

The initiative will specifically not fund:

  • ‘Blue sky’ research
  • Longitudinal and life course research or longer term public health studies
  • Applied research for companies
  • Purchase of significant equipment or capital assets
  • Patent costs
  • Existing spin out businesses

Application process

For an informal discussion about making an application for a feasibility or proof of concept award, please contact your Technology Transfer Manager, Mike Bath or Heather Allinson. If you have an idea that could be commercialised, you are encouraged to get in touch with the Technology Transfer team as soon as possible. We are particularly interested in researchers who are less familiar with the commercialisation process or who have unconventional proposals.