New SETsquared Exeter programme helps researchers take great ideas to market
A successful new support programme – delivered by the University of Exeter‘s SETsquared team – is recruiting its next cohort. The Entrepreneurial Researcher Programme or “ERP” is designed to support researchers generate impact by commercialisation in all forms; including licencing, social enterprise and for-profit spinouts.
Through the programme, researchers were given dedicated support from external mentors and IIB’s Commercialisation team, while also supporting each other within cohorts. Applicants from across academic disciplines were able to explore ideas for commercialisation, providing them with the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial competencies, maximise impact, connect with like-minded colleagues, and test ideas with prospective customers during a 6 week period of market exploration and access seed funding.
Assistant Director of IIB and Head of Enterprise and Innovation programs, Dr Neil Hayes, says “It has been a privilege to accompany the first two cohorts of talented researchers on the initial steps of their entrepreneurial journeys. During our pilot programme we have seen the development of ideas from a broad range of HASS (Humanities and Social Sciences) and STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical) disciplines and witnessed the transformation of these concepts into actionable plans and business models. Feedback from participants has been excellent and I look forward to seeing more great ideas explored through the programme over the coming year.”
The program ran two cohorts in Spring 2021, featuring 17 academics from all Colleges across the university, who explored a diverse range of commercial opportunities emerging from their research.
Ideas ranged from developing a food enterprise targeting the burgeoning British chilli culture, a community interest company providing outdoor activities to promote mental health and wellbeing for young people, to exploring the formation of an enterprise to support Mosques improve their environmental impact.
The programme helped several researchers make strides towards early commercial impact with their ideas.
PHD Researcher Herman Aguirre Jofre, for example, is working with colleagues within the Camborne School of Mines to develop a low cost “Internet of Things” – a fleet management system aimed at reducing operational costs and improving environmental performance within the mining industry.
For Herman, the ERP provided the space to accelerate his idea.
“I think the content was amazing and the cases presented were very illustrative. I have improved my approach regarding my own research and I’ve gained momentum in writing my PhD. The programme has allowed me to develop my ideas and transform my research into a business.”
Herman Aguirre Jofre
Following the ERP, the University’s IIB team supported Herman’s successful application to ICURe, one of the key Innovate UK programs aimed at supporting the commercialisation of UK university research. Through this, Herman and colleagues Dr Matt Eyre and Dr Declan Vogt aim to establish a spinout company that takes the technology to a global market.
Dr Rosina Cross, a researcher working on the BHF funded Digital REACH-HF programme, sought to explore the commercialisation routes for their digital healthcare intervention initially with partners in the NHS, and then a potential international roll out.
“Through the programme, we have been able to clearly define our route to market and potentially devise multiple routes in addition to our planned route via the NHS.
Overall ERP has been a brilliant experience. It has given me an understanding of where research and the commercial world overlap and given me the tools to identify and forecast problems and build both existing and new partnerships to commercialise our idea.
The next stage is to continue to work with our key partners to co-develop an engaging prototype as well as needing to think about additional routes to market”.
Dr Rosina Cross
The next ERP programme is now recruiting applicants for its next cohort. In the run up to COP26 this October, the ERP will be a “Green Futures” themed programme, focused on supporting researchers to explore and commercialise ideas that aim to solve challenges in achieving a more sustainable and just future. Encouraged to interpret ‘Green Futures’ as broadly as possible, the programme promises to bring fresh, diverse approaches to this urgent challenge.
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If you would like to find out more about successful spin-out projects from University of Exeter researchers, please head to our dedicated webpage. To work with our researchers and find out how intellectual property can help your organisation, head to our ‘Access to Ideas’ pages.
If you are a University of Exeter researcher interested in an upcoming programme, please visit our internal ERP webpage.