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.

Entrepreneurial Training

Our range of entrepreneurial training programmes offers you the opportunity to benefit from both Cancer Research UK and our world-renowned partners. Our training schemes with Start Codon and Eureka aim to develop your entrepreneurial knowledge and skills whilst the ICURe programme, in partnership with Innovate UK, provides the opportunity to put theory to the test through gaining practical experience.

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We’ve partnered with the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine to build and foster a global community of translational medicine professionals equipped to inspire and drive the application of discoveries for the benefit of patients.

We are offering 4 free places for UK-based early-stage cancer researchers (last year PhD and Post Docs) to attend the virtual school on 26-30th October (Americas/Europe/Africa edition). The course aims at looking at the key challenges in translational medicine and how to overcome those to drive your discoveries to benefit patients. The course will explore the importance of understanding the science but also the health systems where the scientific discovery needs to be applied, and highlight the importance of skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, reflection, creative problem solving and communication.

Deadline: 1st October.

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Start Codon

We’ve partnered with Start Codon to provide entrepreneurial training for cancer researchers across the UK. Start Codon’s scheme aims to educate a multi-disciplinary oncology research community about entrepreneurship, company formation, operations and fundraising, with the goal of supporting the development of viable start-up businesses that will address unmet medical needs. This initiative is kicking off with a three-part series of free, online seminars and is open to cancer researchers at all levels of knowledge and experience in entrepreneurship. The seminars are:

Start Something Amazing with Dr Jason Mellad

Thursday 23rd July, 12:00 – 13:00 BST

Making IP Count with Tim Russell and Anton Hutter

Wednesday 26th August, 12:00 - 13:30 BST

Bringing Your Product to Patients with Dr Michelle Griffin

Thursday 17th September, 12:00 - 13:00 BST

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In association with Innovate UK, we're giving 4 early career researchers the opportunity to participate in Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) – a comprehensive 4-month online programme to explore the market potential of your research. Using a lean start-up approach, ICURe will give you the know-how you need to translate your idea into patient benefit. 

Successful applicants must build a team that includes their Principal Investigator, an Entrepreneurial Business Advisor and a representative from their University Technology Transfer Office. Assistance with building this team can be provided. 

You and your team will benefit from: 

  • Up to £30,000 funding to get out of the lab and validate your commercially promising idea in the marketplace;
  • An intensive 4-day online bootcamp to learn how to develop a value proposition, engage the appropriate market for your idea and plan your customer discovery journey; 
  • A 4-month structured programme to help you plan and execute the tailored market validation of your scientific research using online software, videoconferencing and marketing tools;
  • Regular coaching clinics and access to leading experts from academia, business and investors and the support of a bright, diverse cohort of ICURe teams.

Deadline: Closed 

Business Accelerators

We have partnered with some of the UK’s leading business accelerators to provide you with the training and skills to translate your ideas and discoveries. Our programmes with Panacea and Deep Science Ventures will last 12 months, with successful applicants receiving mentorship by experts across the oncology sector. Our training programme with Start Codon will deliver tailored entrepreneurial training and enable you to expand your networks.

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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.

New round coming soon. 
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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.

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.

New round coming soon.