Entrepreneurial programmes

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We've launched a programme to develop and nurture an entrepreneurial culture amongst cancer researchers in the UK.

Our ambition is for 3 out of 4 patients diagnosed with cancer to survive the disease by 2034. To achieve this, we're supporting researchers to accelerate the translation of their ideas and discoveries into products that will improve the lives of cancer patients.

Our entrepreneurial programme will show you how to build a business, connect you to a network of like-minded people and help you find the right advice and support, when you need it.

Everyone can be an entrepreneur

Our programme is primarily for PhD students, postdocs and junior group leaders, but we encourage everyone, regardless of your career stage, to get involved. We will provide you with the skills, infrastructure and support you need to develop your idea. 

If you share our passion and ambition to translate discoveries into the clinic and improve the lives of patients with cancer, please get involved. 

The toolbox of the research entrepreneur

Over the past few decades, advancements in medical research has brought about an enormous difference in the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. However, there is a progress gap between medical research advancements and translation of new research findings into clinical practice. This can be bridged by innovation-focused researchers collaborating with commercial companies or developing their ideas through launching spin-outs.

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For budding entrepreneurs in cancer research, there are both opportunities and challenges that they may encounter along their journey. These challenges are often related to the academic environment and its culture, including the time they can commit to their innovation work.

Read about the real experiences of entrepreneurship from a range of our 2019 Innovation Summit speakers, below.

Innovation Summits

We are running annual Innovation Summits rotating around different regions of the UK. This is the flagship event of the Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative and brings researchers together to discuss entrepreneurship, give you an opportunity to build your network with local industry and learn about the support provided by Cancer Research UK.

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To kickstart the initiative the first Innovation Summit started in 2018 in London and you can read more about the event below.

Our second Innovation Summit focused on the North West region, with the event taking place in Alderley Park in Manchester on 7th October 2019. Learn more about what happened at the event below.

Stay tuned to hear where the 2020 Innovation Summit will be held.

Innovation Competitions

We will be running competitions to provide you with the resources needed to translate your research. Our competitions will offer entrepreneurial training as well as prizes.

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We have partnered with Converge, one of Scotland’s leading company creation programmes, to launch the Cancer Research UK Activate Challenge. Researchers based in Scotland can submit their innovative idea for the chance to participate in a series of entrepreneurship focused training sessions followed by the opportunity to pitch for prizes, with up to £10,000 on offer.

Business Accelerators

We’ve partnered with two business accelerators, Panacea Stars and Deep Science Ventures, to provide you with training and skills to translate your ideas and discoveries. Each accelerator programme will last 12 months. Successful applicants will be mentored by experts across the oncology sector.

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Panacea Stars oncology initiative: OncoStars

To apply to OncoStars you simply need a business idea, no matter how nascent, that could change the lives of cancer patients. If you’re successful you’ll receive training to hone your business idea and entrepreneurial skills, plus an opportunity to compete for a £100,000 non-dilutive prize to further develop your concept.

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Deep Science Ventures

At Deep Science Ventures you can join teams of like-minded individuals to develop business solutions to the key challenges in oncology. You don’t need a business idea for this initiative; the focus will be around existing challenges. You can apply for various roles within teams, with a range of options to suit your ambitions.