New IKC guide launched for knowledge exchange professionals to maximise innovation success

The guide introduces a new, holistic approach to proof-of-concept schemes for any sector.

The Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech has launched their final good practice guide for knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) practitioners.

‘Bridging the innovation funding gap: Maximising proof of concept success’ explains how proof of concept grants enable academic researchers – with input from industry and support from an in-house sector specialist – to demonstrate that their idea has economic potential and can lead to real user benefits.

Launching at the annual Praxis Auril conference in Brighton through an interactive, digital exhibition stand, the guide will be premiered to a world-leading professional association for UK Knowledge Exchange practitioners. The guide will also be hosted by PraxisAuril in its online resources area, available to anyone with an interest in KEC whether they are members of association or not.

“We know that researchers are increasingly expected to cross the valley of death between research and successful innovation as they seek to bring basic research to the market” says Tamsin Mann, Director of Policy & Communications for Praxis Auril. “We’re thrilled the guides on proof of concept will be launched at our conference and highlighted to our members to support towards this goal.”

“Our team have developed a successful approach to innovation over the last 13 years” says Rowan Grant, Communications and Engagement Manager for the Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech. “We wanted share our learning on how to source and select the most promising research projects for proof of concept funding, and how to support them projects to ensure a maximum chance of success. Whilst our approach was developed for the commercialisation of medical technologies, it’s relevant to other sectors too, so we are really excited to be launching it at this specialist conference in person.”

The guide is available as an accessible, interactive PDF for both desktop and mobile, and can be viewed in a web browser or downloaded to the users’ own resource library. It offers step by step advice on how to maximise value from a POC scheme in user friendly infographics and illustrations.

The second part of the guide is a case study of the Medical Technology IKC’s successful approach to innovation.

Visit the ‘Bridging the innovation funding gap: Maximising proof of concept success’ webpage now (opens new window).

About the Medical Technologies IKC and Grow MedTech

Since 2009, the University of Leeds has been working with UK HEIs to accelerate technologies closer to market through the Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UKRI EPSRC). Over the years, we have developed a unique innovation infrastructure, a team of experienced professional innovation and IP managers, and successful innovation and evaluation methods to advance medical technologies and remove uncertainty and risk.

Our approach has enabled us to deliver a large portfolio of proof of concept projects. By de-risking technologies at an early stage, we’ve opened the door to over £200m private sector investment to progress technologies towards commercialisation. Most of this investment – £148 million – has supported seven start-up companies established to take the technologies forward, while the remainder has supported work by established industry partners. This investment has enabled new products to be developed and manufacturing facilities to be established in the UK, the European Union, Switzerland and the USA.

Other organisations, including the medical charity Versus Arthritis, have also partnered with us, to apply our approach to their research funding programmes.

• 7 spinout and start-up companies created and supported
• Enabled £200m downstream private sector investment into the private sector
• 267 proof-of-concept, technology development and demonstration projects
• … 84 have progressed beyond TRL 4
• 50+ different products and services reaching the market

In 2018, the team won funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund to replicate our approach to innovation as part of a consortium of six universities in the Leeds and Sheffield City Region, called Grow MedTech. The consortium comprised the universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Sheffield Hallam and York.

In 2015, we won an award through Office for Students for Translate MedTech, to enhance and embed medical technology innovation know-how across the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions.

The Translate MedTech programme led a targeted innovation development programme to enhance innovation awareness, understanding and capacity. From 2018 to 2021 the programme was funded by the partner universities themselves to run alongside and enhance the support Grow MedTech was offering.