Future Founders2021-01-28T22:04:18+00:00

Are you a researcher at one of our partner universities? Do you have product, service or license opportunities in mind right now, or want to develop the commercial potential of your research in future?

Delivered in partnership with innovation and venturing experts, Viadynamics, Future Founders is designed specifically for academics to embrace enterprise opportunities from their research.

You’ll be signing up to a programme of workshops (adapted to run online due to COVID-19) which will build your entrepreneurial capability and accelerate your idea development. Workshops will cover:

• Diagnosing opportunities and exploring the market
• Accelerating development and de-risking opportunities
• Business planning and business building
• Enterprise financing and fund-raising

Please complete this short application form to apply by Monday 15 February. 

“I learned a lot about myself and the limitations that I put on myself. The exercises created awareness and helped us to approach things in different ways and to recognise this.”
Early Career Researcher, Newcastle University – Action for Impact attendee

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply for Future Founders?2021-01-28T23:15:30+00:00

You can apply using this short application form.

Places for the programme are limited and are subject to an application process. Please hold the workshop dates in your diary when you apply and we’ll confirm whether your application has been successful shortly after the closing date.

Please contact your university’s technology transfer team if you have any further questions ahead of your application.

If you previously applied for cohort 3 (originally scheduled in September 2020), you do not need to reapply as we still have your application on file.

I don’t have a product, service or license opportunity in mind right now, but I’d like to attend – can I?2019-12-10T11:29:34+00:00

Yes, as long as you’re an academic at one of our partner universities and have a keen interest in developing the commercial potential of your research now or in the future, you’re welcome to apply.  Please set out your reasons for wanting to attend on the short application form.  We’ll be working in small groups throughout the workshops and those without their own ideas will be contributing as a resource on someone else’s idea.

I’m concerned about protecting my idea and IP. How much will I have to share?2019-12-10T11:27:43+00:00

The course leaders will be under non-disclosure / confidentiality agreements.  There are likely to be academics from all four Northern Accelerator universities on each cohort.  Our advice would be that you should share as much or as little as you are comfortable doing – you won’t have to reveal anything during the workshops that would threaten your ability to secure IP later.

Whether you’re attending Future Founders or not, your technology transfer team at your own university can also help you understand what you should do to protect your IP.

Do I need to be nominated for the programme?2019-12-10T11:30:07+00:00

No, but we do ask that you seek your Head of Department’s agreement to apply (there’s a question on the application form about this).

What types of ideas are you looking for?2019-12-10T11:30:52+00:00

We are encouraging a broad range of ideas from across institutions and disciplines. Ideas might be components, products, scalable services, or license opportunities, educational or health platforms, or molecules, software or data assets… the list is endless!

I’m not sure I can commit to all of the dates. Can I switch between cohorts part way through?2019-12-10T11:51:28+00:00

In short, no!  The programme is set up to maximise the benefits from peer to peer learning and may be tailored to the needs of specific cohorts.  Switching between cohorts is therefore not possible.

Who is eligible to apply for Future Founders?2019-12-10T11:33:42+00:00

Future Founders is aimed at academic staff from any department at our partner universities. Whether you have product, service or license opportunities in mind right now, or want to equip yourself to develop ideas in the future. You should have a keen interest in achieving real world impact by developing commercial opportunities from your research.

When and where does Future Founders take place?2021-01-28T22:19:33+00:00

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, Future Founders has been adapted to run as a series of eight half-day workshops, on Zoom. We ran our last cohort online in summer, and received great feedback and results, so we’re confident you will still get the same worthwhile experience and knowledge from the course.

You must be available to attend all eight workshops. Sessions will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9.15am-1pm, with a half-hour break at 11am, on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 2 March
  • Thursday 4 March
  • Tuesday 9 March
  • Thursday 11 March
  • Tuesday 23 March
  • Thursday 25 March
  • Tuesday 30 March
  • Thursday 1 April


Is there a cost to attend Future Founders?2021-01-28T22:13:47+00:00

Future Founders is a fully funded programme so there’s no cost to you for your place on the course.

Please note that as the course is a significant financial investment in you, after you’re offered and accept a place you will be required to give adequate notice if you’re unable to attend.

Who funds Future Founders?2019-12-10T10:20:08+00:00

Future Founders is funded by Northern Accelerator using funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund. 

What does Future Founders cover?2021-01-28T22:15:00+00:00

Future Founders will cover:

  • Diagnosing opportunities
    • Overview of the development and commercialisation process
    • The realities of the spin-out journey (case stories)
    • Diagnosing the opportunity – needs, barriers and limitations, solution routes
    • Exploring the market opportunity and applications to target first
    • Customer segmentation and personas
    • Competitor analysis and competitive advantage
  • Accelerating development
    • Overview of the scoping process
    • Exploring the total business system for ‘musts, gaps and risks’
    • Designing and executing market, customer and user research
    • Freedom to operate and protecting IP
    • Accelerating development, managing and mitigating risk
    • Key milestones and action planning
    • Introduction to business planning
  • Business planning and business building
    • Building a credible team
    • Market engagement – how and when
    • Prototyping and testing
    • Business modelling
    • Brand building
    • Writing the business plan
  • Finance and fundraising
    • Introduction to financial statements and budgeting
    • Overview of the funding requirements of a business, and how this evolves
    • Building a cash-flow projection
    • Different sources of funding, different types of investors and what they look for
    • The fundraising process – step by step
    • Avoiding the pitfalls and closing the deal
    • Building and managing relationships with important investors
    • Responsibilities and accountabilities of Directors
    • ‘Pitch school’ – build and deliver your winning pitch.
What does Future Founders lead to? (What can I do next?)2019-12-10T10:30:04+00:00

Future Founders will equip you with the skills and knowledge to recognise and embrace commercial opportunities from your research. Your university’s technology transfer team will work closely with you to do this, and you may be interested in getting involved (if you’re not already) with other elements of Northern Accelerator’s support, such as our pre-incorporation funding or executives into business.

We’re investing in you and we want to help you make an impact with the outcome of your research, so we’ll ensure we put you in touch with the right people at your university to progress those opportunities.

What can I expect from virtual delivery of Future Founders?2021-01-28T22:22:04+00:00

The course material has been redesigned for virtual delivery. You can expect an experience that is as close to face-to-face courses as possible. To enable this we have:

• Broken each module into 2 x half days
• Limited the participants to 12 people to keep the course interactive
• Re-designed the materials for virtual sharing
• Re-jigged the timings to allow for sufficient breaks
• Prepped supporting material to be emailed to you beforehand for use during session delivery
• Activated features like virtual breakout rooms so we continue to benefit from effective group work

We are using Zoom as the delivery platform and will ensure password protected security. We will not be recording sessions.

We will send you a few pages of A4 material a few days ahead of each session and it would be useful if you were able to print it out.

All you’ll need on the day is a pen, some blank A4 paper and a reasonable internet connection. We can if. you wish, test your connection ahead of the sessions commencing.

We will be available for one-to-one chats between sessions to deal with any additional questions or support you with the small amount of pre-work / homework that will be set between sessions.