Future Founders2020-05-12T10:33:21+01:00

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 which will build your entrepreneurial capability and accelerate your idea development. The half-day 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

Due to COVID-19 we will be delivering our summer cohort of Future Founders online, as a series of half-day sessions rather than four full-day workshops. We are aiming to run the sessions as close as possible to the original June and July dates and will confirm dates and availability with successful applicants. Please complete this short application form to apply. Please apply before Friday 15 May for the summer cohort. 

“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?2020-05-12T10:35:29+01:00

You can apply using this short application form. Both June and September’s courses are currently open for applications. Due to COVID-19 the summer cohort will run online, and we will continue to monitor the situation for future cohorts.

Places for the programme are limited and are subject to an application process. Please hold the dates in your diary for the cohorts you’re applying for and we’ll confirm whether your application has been successful. For June/July, we will confirm dates and availability with successful applicants – though we aim to run the half-day sessions as close as possible to the originally advertised dates.

Applicants who have already applied for cohorts 2 and 3 do not need to reapply. Please contact your university’s technology transfer team if you have any further questions ahead of your application.

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?2020-05-12T10:39:21+01:00

There are two further cohorts open to everyone – regardless of which of our partner universities you’re from. When signing up you are committing to attend all dates for that cohort.

Cohort 2: Dates to be confirmed with successful applicants – aiming for two half-day workshops in each of w/c 22 June, 29 June, 13 July, 20 July

Cohort 3: Delivery method and location subject to change – aiming for sessions during each of w/c 7 Sept, 14 Sept, 28 Sept, 5 Oct 2020

We are monitoring the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and will update this page if there are any changes to the dates.


Is there a cost to attend Future Founders?2019-12-10T10:16:42+00:00

Future Founders is a fully funded programme so there’s no cost to you for your place on the course. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

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?2019-12-10T11:36:02+00:00

The course is split into four single-day workshops. They cover:

  • Workshop 1: 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
  • Workshop 2: 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
  • Workshop 3: 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
  • Workshop 4: 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.