Access to Funding

Winning research funding through working with business is not the poor cousin to Research Council funding that it once was. As the budgets of the Research Councils shrink, there are growing opportunities afforded by working with business, either with direct business funding for your research, or through collaboratively accessing public funding for business-based R&D.

The competition is stiff, but the financial and intellectual rewards of building relationships with business can be great.

The team in Research & Innovation Services is here to support you to win funding for the investigator-led, scientifically interesting research that you want to do, by: helping you to find companies with whom you share interests, through our wide network of contacts;

  • Advising you on a range of funding opportunities, internal and external, to build relationships with business;
  • Supporting you to network with key decision makers, within business and Innovate UK, to influence the scope of funding calls;
  • Providing specialist advice on collaborative bid development and grant writing for Innovate UK; and
  • Supporting you in financial and contractual negotiations to ensure that your rights are protected and your research goals are achieved.

Professor Mark Viant, School of Biosciences
"Having spotted what appeared to be a perfect [Innovate UK] grant call I was initially put off by not having any experience of how to write a winning bid. That's when RIS stepped in, who navigated us seamlessly through the paperwork and application process, supporting us and our collaborators to put together a cohesive project bid, with the right balance of technical and commercial content."

The following sections provide short introductions to some of the key routes to funding for which we provide support. If you have any questions about working with business, contact the team. If we can't answer your question, we'll know the people who can.

Innovate UK Funding

About

Image---About-Us-BannerInnovate UK is the UK funder of innovation in business. Part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. Many of its funding schemes allow universities to partner with businesses of all sizes in order to deliver new technologies. Get in touch with the team to find out how you can access its resources.

Innovate UK has recently published its delivery plan, outlining its priority areas for the 2016/17 financial year. This document can be found here, with current opportunities outlined below:

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

KTP-2014Running for almost 40 years, the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme is funded by Innovate UK and the Research Councils, and aims to put academic knowledge and know-how to work in UK businesses. Deadlines for applications occur for every 2 months, and projects in any sector are welcome.

KTP projects must be developed with the direct assistance of the University's KTP Manager, Kate Jermey, so if you're interested in pursuing an application, or would just like to find out more about the programme, get in touch. A dedicated Intranet page with more information for prospective and current KTPs can be found here.

Feasibility Studies / Collaborative R&D

Feasibility-StudiesCollaborative-RDDesigned to allow the industrial and academic communities to work together in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology, calls for Feasibility Studies and their more substantive cousins, Collaborative R&D Projects, occur all year round in themed areas determined by Innovate UK. Substantial work packages within these projects can be based entirely at universities, and they represent an excellent opportunity to win research funding.

The RIS team provide specialist advice on writing Innovate UK bids, and can support you to network with the right people at Innovate UK to make sure that the next themed call is in your area of interest.

Catalysts

Catalysts-logoCatalysts are integrated programmes of funding that Innovate UK operates in partnership with the Research Councils; they aim to provide a pathway of funding to support an idea from its origins in academic research, to position as close to commercial viability as possible. There are currently four Catalysts, although we should expect more to be created:

  • the Biomedical Catalyst (in partnership with the MRC)
  • the Agri-Tech Catalyst (in partnership with the BBSRC and DIFD)
  • the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst (in partnership with the BBSRC and the EPSRC)
  • the Energy Catalyst (in partnership with the EPSRC and the Department of Energy and Climate Change)

Some Catalyst funding calls are specifically for academic researchers (funded mainly by the research councils), while others are business-led but may include academic researchers (funded mainly by Innovate UK). For further information, contact the team.

Knowledge Transfer Networks

KTN-2014The Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) aim to bring businesses and academic researchers together into communities of practice, not only to create consortia to bid for Innovate UK funding together, but also to create groups, who can influence how Innovate UK invests its money. If you want Innovate UK to provide a funding call in your area of expertise, make friends with your KTN! There are currently 17 themed KTNs, in areas from Biosciences to Transport. It is highly likely that the KTNs will play a prominent role in facilitating access to networks to bid for Horizon 2020 funding, so even if you're not interested in Innovate UK money, getting to know your KTN is well worth the effort.

The University of Birmingham Business Club

The team runs the University of Birmingham Business Club. The Club is a network for businesses that currently collaborate with University of Birmingham academics, and for those that are looking to collaborate. Amongst a range of other benefits, club members can attend a breakfast briefing at the BizzInn, once every two months, to participate in lively discussion with experts from the Birmingham Business School and beyond on topical business issues.

The breakfast briefing regularly gathers together on your doorstep a large group of companies, who are working across all sectors and technologies. It is an ideal opportunity to meet partners to:

  • jointly develop and exploit your IP;
  • create real word impact from your research for REF;
  • access research funding through Horizon 2020 and Innovate UK;
  • develop new research themes with commercial relevance.

Look out for Club announcements on the Research Fora email lists, or contact Nathalie if you are interested in presenting at a Breakfast Briefing.

European funding

The European Union has a number of funding opportunities that can support collaboration with business partners. Details of current calls and contact details for EU support staff can be found here.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

Local Enterprise Partnerships are locally-owned partnerships between local authorities and businesses.  They play a central role in determining local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs. For more information about LEPs see: http://www.lepnetwork.org.uk/the-lep-network.html

LEPs are also a key conduit to central government in accessing funds for economic growth and set priorities for expenditure of their European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) allocations.

One of 39 LEPs, the University is located in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.  Geographically our LEP encompasses Birmingham and Solihull, East Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth, Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, Redditch and Wyre Forest. The LEP is one of the largest in the country, with a population of over two million people, and 840,000 jobs. For more on your local LEP see: www.centreofenterprise.com

The LEP's successful bid, jointly proposed by business leaders and local authorities, set out ambitious plans to:

  • Increase economic output (GVA) in the area by £8.25 billion by 2020;
  • Create 100,000 private sector jobs by 2020;
  • Stimulate growth in the business stock and business profitability;
  • Boost indigenous and inward investment;
  • Become global leaders in key sectors, including: automotive assembly; low carbon R&D, business and professional services; financial services; clinical trials; creative and digital sectors;
  • Increase the proportion of adults with appropriate qualifications to meet employment needs.

For more information about LEPs contact Paul Edwards (p.s.edwards@bham.ac.uk; Ext. 43695).

For further information contact us.