By Sharon M Young, FLFDN Innovation Manager

Are you interested in understanding more about commercialising research and connecting with like-minded colleagues?


We have partnered with the team behind the highly successful ICURe programme, Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research, to offer a tailored approach to learning about the various routes to translation and commercialisation.

Delivered in partnership with The Helix Way, we are launching a new and exciting series of online events to support pathways to Translation and Commercialisation.

 (ICURe) describe themselves as “the UK’s leading early-stage research accelerator programme,” and guides researchers through the process of refining and validating the commercial potential for some of the world’s leading-edge science, technology and knowledge assets. More information about ICURe programmes, case studies and cohorts can be found by clicking here onto the ICURe website.

With the FLFDN’s dynamic programme of events driven by the needs of Future Leaders Fellows, we’ve taken time to listen and understand your different perspectives. We’ve sought views from across the Network, including at the recent the two-day Fellow-led Translation & Commercialisation  (click to revisit the blog) in Birmingham. We heard first-hand the common and individual challenges Fellows tackle in relation to translation and commercialisation. This workshop gave useful insights into the types of knowledge gaps that Fellows had experienced and highlighted that they had all received very different levels of support at their various institutions.

This work has led us to develop a bespoke, hop-on-hop-off approach so that Fellows can pick and choose which workshops are of most relevance depending on their own unique stage in the journey.

We designed the Routes to Commercialisation series to reflect the fact that everyone has a unique starting point on any journey to Translation and or Commercialisation and that every small step on this journey can add value irrespective of how insignificant it might seem at the time. And importantly, that value creation is not simply about creating a “spin-out” or making money.

The sessions have been co-designed with the ICURe delivery team and will be delivered in partnership with The Helix way, click here to visit their website.

Although each workshop is a standalone event, we encourage you to view them as a series and to sign up for as many as are relevant to your specific needs. The first five are now live and available for registration below.


Routes to Commercialisation : The importance of Ideation 21 June 2023

Routes to Commercialisation: Verbal business card 27 July 2023

Routes to Commercialisation: Value Proposition Design 28 September 2023

Routes to Commercialisation: Business Model Canvas introduced 18 October 2023

Routes to Commercialisation: Assumptions creation and testing 22 November 2023

Routes to Commercialisation: Managing conversations in the commercial world January 2024

Routes to Commercialisation: The importance and nature of Investors February 2024

Routes to Commercialisation: The Cap Table March 2024


If you want to know about the programme of events or understand if this is right for you please click to get in touch with Sharon.


Image by: LuckyBusiness 2021

By Future Leaders Fellows, Dr Sophie Cox (Associate Professor, University of Birmingham), Dr Yueting Sun (Lecturer, University of Birmingham), Dr Obinna Ubah (Principal scientist and Program Lead, Elasmogen Limited), Prof Mohsen Rahmani (Nottingham Trent University) and Dr Noemi Procopio (Senior Research Fellow, University of Central Lancashire). 

Funded through a recent Crucible workshop, five Future Leaders Fellows hosted a workshop at the University of Birmingham with the aim of better understanding the factors that support translation of research. During the two-day event the fellows heard from several guest speakers that had taken various paths to commercialise research.  

On the first day, Professor Brian Robb (Industrial Professor, University of Birmingham) shared a series of case studies from his extensive career in manufacturing, highlighting how different factors can be more critical depending on the disruptive nature of the value proposition and the importance of access to technology maturation and pre-production facilities to enable effective translation of early-stage research to commercial implementation. 

Dr Caroline Barelle (CEO, Elasmogen Limited) also inspired all the attendees with her heartfelt story that demonstrated that both hard-work and an appetite for risk is needed to successfully form and grow a biotechnology company.  

Professor Stuart James (Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Queen’s University Belfast) again spoke of an ‘itch’ to realise the impact of his research and despite initially being happy to return to non-applied research after forming his first spin-out company, he shared the spark and passion that innovation can drive within a researcher.  

Finally, Dr Hyunwoo Yuk (SanaHeal, Inc. Boston, USA) provided the workshop with an international dynamic, which highlighted the critical role that the ecosystem may play in supporting and driving forward technology progression.  

Interestingly, despite taking different paths there were several synergies identified across all of the day-one talks including the importance of building a collaborative network, working across disciplines, valuing people, evaluating your appetite for risk, and learning to talk the language of commercialisation. While each of the organizing FLFs were at different stages in their translational research journeys these take-home messages inspired and motivated them to continue their efforts.  

Co-lead host for the workshop, Dr Sophie Cox commented, “Hearing reflections from a range of sectors demonstrated that while different translational journeys are embarked upon there are key critical skills and knowledge that are integral to success. This understanding lays a solid foundation from which to advocate for best practice across the UK.” 

Co-lead host for the workshop, Dr Yueting Sun commented, It was fantastic to have speakers and FLFs from diverse backgrounds and career stages. To me it was particularly exciting to learn how we can do better in translating fundamental science to innovation and impact.” 

For Dr Noemi Procopio, “The Crucible workshop has been a deep learning curve, I have realized how unconventional and unique each translational path can be and returned to my lab even more motivated and determined to work towards something that, in the future, may allow me to finally take the leap towards translation. 

Dr Ubah, a business hosted Fellow who benefited from an early exposure to commercialisation and intellectual property management said, “The Translation workshop has helped me to appreciate the differences and unique challenges across different institutions/disciplines and sectors that may impede commercialisation and translation of research. I would hope that our continued engagement with KOLs across sectors and disciplines about Research Translation best practices and commercialisation (in a broad sense) will equip us with the right knowledge which can be disseminated to the wider fellowship network”. 

The second day of the workshop was focused on contextualizing the learning points from the speakers and embedding this within a wider body of work being undertaken by the UKRI FLFDN team. Sharon Morgan-Young (Innovation Manager, FLFDN) and Paul Grimshaw (Knowledge Exchange Manager, FLFDN) who are leading on the development of a series of Toolkits, including one focusing on translation and commercialisation, shared their current thinking on the content and delivery format.  

Sharon said, “The Commercialisation & Translation Toolkit that we are creating will benefit greatly from the input of the Fellows and other speakers at the workshop. It was immensely helpful to hear about the different types of translation support that Fellows have had at their own institutions and the challenges they have faced on their individual journeys. We hope to build a set of resources that address some of these shared challenges in a useful and engaging format.” 

The group also heard from Dr Matt Lodge (Programme Lead for Business, Innovation, Impact and Evaluation / UK Research and Innovation) who is exploring opportunities to make the FLF renewal process more flexible and conducive to supporting research innovation.  

Matt said, “The workshop was great, it created an environment that stimulated great discissions on the challenges and benefits of impact realisation and commercialisation; the outputs of the meeting will greatly help me in my work at UKRI, my thanks to the FLFDN, Future Leaders Fellowship Fellows and organisers for extending their invite to me.”

Finally, the group were joined by Professor Dominique Moran (Professor in Carceral Geography, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Research Impact, University of Birmingham) who spoke about the University of Birmingham’s strategy for research impact and how this was being embedded culturally across the campus. This includes a new academic career framework that recognises enterprise, engagement, and impact as a core pathway for promotion.  

After two days the Fellows returned equipped with a refreshing outlook on what research translation may mean; recognising the breadth of stages involved in this exciting process of realization while also beginning to see the dimensionality that research discipline brings to the table. According to Professor Rahmani, “It was fantastic to see through real case studies that commercialisation can be realised via so many different pathways; everyone must realise the most suitable scenario for his/her case.” 

It was reassuring to see that the effort and dedication to these activities is being recognised at various levels, specifically through the development of Toolkits led by the FLFDN team. Certainly, if this forward-looking agenda can be filtered both from top to bottom while driving best practice across the country then the future of UK Innovation looks promising.