Invest NI Funding Support for University Based Business Spinouts

Oct 19, 2004

Nine projects based at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster are to receive a share of £1 million from Invest Northern Ireland’s Proof of Concept fund, a programme which aims to increase the number of new high tech business spinouts emerging from local university research.

The nine projects include a Queen’s University project which will investigate the use of biosensor technology in the rapid analysis of toxic food contaminants, and a University of Ulster project focusing on the development of environmentally acceptable mechanisms used in the monitoring and management of hazardous waste deposits.

With a project fund of £5 million over three years, the Proof of Concept Programme was launched in December 2003 to assist researchers in exporting commercially viable ideas from laboratories to the marketplace. In essence, a Proof of Concept project must have the potential to lead to the creation of a new business or the licensing of new technology to an existing company. Invest NI believes that Proof of Concept will ultimately increase the number and standard of new businesses spinning out from university research.

Involving small groups of researchers, projects will run for approximately eighteen months and the research topics have not been restricted to a specific industry sector. The nine projects receiving assistance came from a variety of areas including: veterinary sciences; nanotechnology; chemistry; electrical & mechanical engineering; environmental sciences; biomedical sciences; manufacturing; engineering and computing.

“The quality and variety of applications received for the first round of Proof of Concept funding clearly demonstrates the wealth of creativity and innovation alive in our universities,” said Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development at Invest NI. “Through Proof of Concept we can harness the commercial potential of this local research expertise and encourage the growth of an entrepreneurial culture within the higher education sector, resulting in a greater number of new, innovative businesses entering the marketplace.”

Proof of Concept is operating on a pilot basis for 3 years. Three selection rounds are planned for 2004 with second round funding results due to be announced in October 2004. Applications for the third round of funding will close on 30th September 2004. Further information and application details are available at

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