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Accelerating Innovation - Midlands ICURe completes cohort with celebration event

An Innovate UK funded programme which gives researchers the opportunity to market test and commercialise their ideas has boosted investment opportunities within the Midlands.

Midlands ICURe is a three-to-six-month programme that delivers training, funding and tailored support to teams led by university early career researchers. Up to £35,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate commercially promising ideas in the marketplace. If successful, a further £15,000 is granted to spin out the business.

The programme which completed its eighth cohort has increased the likelihood of teams pursuing a spin-out or securing a licensing deal from 15% to 79% overall. In addition to:

  • Creating 34 spin out companies
  • Generating £3.7m investment in teams
  • Collaborating with 39 universities who have participated

To mark the end of this cohort, 25 Midlands ICURe alumni presented their innovations to more than 100 delegates at an investor and celebration event, highlighting the breadth of expertise and successful spin-outs within the Midlands.

Former MD of John Lewis and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street CBE joined the event to learn how Midlands ICURe is supporting the levelling up agenda and city investors had the opportunity to hear from 12 spin out businesses pitching for further investment. 

During his speech Andy Street stated: “Growth in new sectors of the future is absolutely critical, whether it be the cluster around electric vehicles, our strength in life sciences or med tech, or technologies that will help us deliver net zero - the way we actually invest behind that growth of companies is mission critical.”

He further explained that the government’s commitment in the levelling up whitepaper that 55% of public R&D will be spent outside the Golden Triangle will make sure that brilliant ideas will support the regional economic recovery.

Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick said: “ICURe is a transformative programme which accelerates the commercialisation of university research. The tried and tested approach helps to create jobs, drive economic growth and brings to life research ideas that make a real difference to society. The Midlands is a hot-bed for innovation. Our region has strength and expertise in energy, engineering, space and medical sciences; these are areas in which we excel.

“Universities play a major role; they are an integral part of the economy and the success of the Midlands ICURe programme is testament to that. We know Midlands ICURe gives some of the brightest minds the practical skills and tools to create a product from their research, science or technology. It also inspires individuals, generates opportunities for investors and accelerates innovation - it was wonderful to see the outcome of this at the recent event.”

Kevin Marks, Director – Warwick Innovations said: “Thank you to Innovate UK who provided the funding for the Midlands ICURe programme which has generated real impact within the Midlands for our research community. We are proud to have given the opportunity and skills to researchers to accelerate innovation.”

Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation also commented. She said: “Just some of these spin outs from the Midlands ICRUe programme have helped to reduce on-road collisions, halved the costs of common chemical manufacturing processes and revolutionised the drinks industry by creating rapid on-site testing for contaminants. Giving researchers the skills and opportunity to develop a viable business from their ideas through programmes like this, further generates growth and investment opportunities for universities and the wider region.”

Read the Midlands ICURe impact brochure 

Published 12 April 2022