What is the aim of the Enterprise Fellowships scheme?

Which scheme should I apply for?

How many applications are typically received?

In which areas must the proposed business lie?

I have already set up a company, can I apply?

What stage of development should my product or idea be at when I apply?

Are there nationality or other eligibility restrictions?

I am a member of a team - can I apply?

How will my application be assessed?

What criteria do the panel use when assessing applications?

What does the business training consist of?

What is the duration of the Enterprise Fellowship?

What does the Enterprise Fellowship provide for?

Will I be appointed a mentor?

How will the Academy monitor my progress?

I have and idea for an app or website, can I apply?

I wish to set up a consultancy, can I apply?

Can I reapply?

My colleague received an Enterprise Hub award, can I apply too?

Do I/team members need to relocate to the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Where will I be based in the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Does my company need to establish its HQ in the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Do Intellectual Property agreements have to be transferred to the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Are there any living expenses provided for those selected? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Can I take up a full-time or part-time job during the Fellowship? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

When will I receive the funds? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Which visa will I need to apply for? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Can I change to a different visa category either during or after the Fellowship? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

What are the English language requirements of the programme? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Will there be support once I arrive in the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Further information


What is the aim of the RAEng Enterprise Fellowship scheme?

To enable aspiring entrepreneurs to continue the development of a technology or innovation through establishing a start-up company.

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 Which scheme should I apply for?

We have the following tfive variations of Enterprise Fellowships:

  1. University Enterprise Fellowships, for academics based anywhere in the UK 
  2. Graduate Enterprise Fellowships, for recent graduates based anywhere in the UK
  3. Reece Foundation Graduate Enterprise Fellowships, for recent graduates based in the Northeast of England
  4. Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships, for early-career researchers based outside the UK who wish to relocate and establish a business anywhere in the UK
  5. London Innovation Fellowships in Engineering, for academics based in London, spinning out of a London University 

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How many applications are typically received?

This varies with the number of awards available, although typically the success rate is around 25%.

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In which areas must the proposed business lie?

Engineering is defined in its broadest sense, encompassing a wide range of diverse fields. We do not have a preference for any particular areas of engineering. If your business idea may lie in a non-engineering area, please contact the scheme manager to check if you are eligible to apply.

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I have already set up a company, can I apply?

As long as you are still an early stage startup then yes you may apply. If it is still essentially a shell company which will be the vehicle for taking the idea forward, then you should still be eligible. Some sales revenue is acceptable, e.g. a crowdfunding campaign, as long as you are still identifiable as a start-up.

If you have already raised significant funding, e.g. completed a Series A round, then you are likely too advanced for this programme. The aim of the scheme is to get you ready to raise (or able to bootstrap if that’s your intention); if you have already raised then other schemes would be more suitable for you. Please call if you would like to discuss your situation.

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What stage of development should my product or idea be at when I apply?

If you plan to spend the year doing further research you are not yet ready for an Enterprise Fellowship. Enterprise Fellowships are to support projects that have already demonstrated proof of concept – both commercial and technical, and must be at Technology Readiness level 4 or above, as defined by the European Commission.

If you envisage spending the first half of the Fellowship developing an investment ready business plan, and the second half seeking investment, then you are probably well placed to benefit from the scheme. If you don’t believe you will be seeking investment by the end of the Fellowship you are probably too early, and should consider applying next year instead.

Note, we don’t have a preference between raising and bootstrapping, its your company and your choice. For those planning on a bootstrapping approach, consider if you could technically be ready to raise at by the end of the Fellowship – if so then you are likely at the right stage for a Fellowship. 

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Are there nationality or other eligibility restrictions?

There are no nationality restrictions. Applicants must confirm that they are able to remain and work legally in the UK for the duration of the Fellowship. The Academy cannot take any responsibility for applying for the visas/work permits required, and such costs cannot be included in the application. Applicants applying to the Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships must be living and working outside the UK and must not be UK citizens at the time of the application.

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I am a member of a team - can I apply?

Yes, applicants can work as part of a team, and indeed the majority do, but the applicant must play a leading role (CEO/COO) in the development of the business. Please note that funding does not cover the salary of other members of staff. This is primarily an award for an individual, but we do want to hear about the team, and awardees are encouraged to involve their team in many Enterprise Hub activities.

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How will my application be assessed?

An assessment panel comprising entrepreneurs, investors and Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering will review the applications and shortlisted candidates will be invited to present to the panel. The presentations will require each candidate to pitch their business idea to the panel in no more than five minutes, followed by a 20 minute Q&A session. Interviews typically take place six to eight weeks after the submission deadline. Details will follow nearer the time, online interviews are possible where necessary. 

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What criteria do the panel use when assessing applications?

Reviewers will be asked to comment upon: the applicant, the technology, the team, the required resources, the business plan and the overall commercial credibility. We look for a great individual with a great idea, we don’t necessarily expect the business plan to be have been perfected, that’s what the Fellowship is for, but the quality of your plan does indicate to whether you are a great individual.

Specifically, reviewers will be assessed against:

  • Quality and potential of the innovation
  • Commercial credibility of the business model
  • Expected benefits to UK economy and/or expected benefits to wider public
  • Quality and potential of the Applicant including: entrepreneurial potential, business awareness, market awareness, potential to act as a role model
  • Nature and extent of the benefits the Fellowship would provide the Applicant
  • Level of commitment to and fit with the aims of the Fellowship
  • The overall likelihood of success

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What does the business training consist of?

The training programme is delivered by the Academy’s Enterprise Hub and partner organisations. The training is comprised of a blend of practical teaching sessions, expert clinics, mentor sessions and experienced advice and support from leading entrepreneurs and innovators. Topics include marketing, business modelling, finance, sales, recruitment and pitch practice. You will also become part of a year-group, and are expected to both help and learn from your fellow awardees.

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What is the duration of the Enterprise Fellowship?

The duration of an Enterprise Fellowship is twelve (12) months full time. Once the Fellowship is complete, successful awardees will become members of the Enterprise Hub, and benefit from continued support and access to facilities. Although the financial support ends after twelve months, other benefits such as Hub Membership, Public Relations, access to meeting room facilities, access to networks and limited training will continue following the official award period.

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What does the Enterprise Fellowship provide for?

Enterprise Fellowships provide £50,000 or £60,000 of funding for 12 months for the continued development of an innovation or technology and the associated company. The level of funding depends upon the type of award you apply for, and more information is given in the guidance notes.

The funding can be used for salary support of the Enterprise Fellow and costs for the continued development of the innovation and associated company. Allowable costs directly related to the fellowship may include: travel, equipment, business consultancy, project specific consumables, legal costs, specific business courses and attending conferences and seminars directly related to the Enterprise Fellowship.

Additionally, training will be provided to give each Enterprise Fellow the tools, contacts and confidence to transform their idea into a successful business project or venture. Business mentors (drawn mainly from the Royal Academy of Engineering Fellows) will be allocated to each Enterprise Fellow to provide additional support and advice for the duration of the Enterprise Fellowship as well as access to business angels and venture capital networks.

The Enterprise Hub will provide Public Relations support to help build your media profile, and will assist in identifying further opportunities for pitching, funding and networking.

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Will I be appointed a mentor?

A mentor will be appointed by the Academy to offer support and advice and facilitate links as the commercialisation progresses. The mentor will be a Fellow of the Academy and will be available to provide formal and informal advice on matters relating to the commercialisation process.

The Academy mentor will not make or take business decisions, perform the functions of a consultant, or take the role of an executive or non-executive director of the company. The role of the mentor is to offer support and advice, encouragement and a dose of reality where necessary. Their role is to monitor the Enterprise Fellow to ensure that the Academy’s funds are well spent while also providing advice and guidance to ensure a viable business is in operation at the end of the Fellowship.

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How will the Academy monitor my progress?

Enterprise Fellows must provide a progress report to the Mentor and the Enterprise Hub every three months. Enterprise Fellows may also be required to present their work to the Academy's enterprise Committee. The purpose of the report is to inform us of how we may best assist you.

Following completion of the initial 12 month period, the Enterprise Fellow must also provide a brief annual update every year for five years on the progress made. This will be used to evaluate the long-term success of the scheme itself, as well as the awardee, and also to assess how we may continue to be of assistance to the awardee.

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I have an idea for an app or website, can I apply?

Possibly. Developing an app or website is not in itself an innovation, even if it’s the first of its kind - they are merely methods of delivery. If there is an engineering innovation behind the app or website then you may be eligible, but it is the innovation that determines eligibility, not the app or website. As a simple test, if another company could easily replicate the app then it’s likely not an innovation. Please call the Hub team to discuss your proposal.

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I wish to set up a consultancy, can I apply?

No. Enterprise Fellowships are aimed at scalable technologies and innovations, whereas a consultancy based upon the specialist knowledge of a group of individuals is typically not scalable, and so you will not be able to make best use of the training and skills the Enterprise Hub offers. You may plan to use consultancy as a way of funding the startup in the early stages, but that should not be a long-term goal.

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Can I reapply?

If you were unsuccessful in a previous round, then yes you may reapply, and you may continue with the same core idea. In fact applicants who re-apply have a significantly higher success rate, having (presumably) learnt from the experience and taken the feedback on board. However, be sure to address the panel’s concerns by making appropriate changes to your earlier proposal. It is worth noting that some of those who have been unsuccessful and reapplied have gone on to secure a Fellowship.

If you have previously been awarded an Enterprise Fellowship then you may not reapply to receive a second Fellowship - you have received all the training already. Awardees of the Launchpad Competition however are eligible to reapply, but most show the added value a second award will bring.

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My colleague received an Enterprise Hub award, can I apply too?

If you wish to pursue the same project as your colleague through the same spinout, then no - we wish to provide support to a range of different projects and people rather than concentrate it in fewer places. You may however be interested in attending Hub events, and your colleague will be able to advise on this.

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Where will I be based in the UK? 

All awards and businesses must be based in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland). It is your responsibility to find accommodation and any required office space. There are Enterprise Zones across the UK which may be of interest if you are in a particular sector. There is also touch-down workspace and meeting space in the Taylor Centre at the Academy.

Reece Foundation Graduate Enterprise Fellowships must be based in the north-east of England region, and establish the business there.

London Innovation Fellowships in Engineering must be based in the Greater London area, and establish the business there.

Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships must relocate to the UK for a minimum of 12 months. If you are successful in your application, we will be able to provide assistance where we can to help you find business premises. We expect you not to leave the UK for extended periods. Your application will also be assessed on your commitment to not only setting up your business in the UK, but growing it here in the long-term.

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Does my company need to establish its HQ in the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Yes, your company must have its headquarters in the UK and the business must be registered in the UK when you relocate.

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Do Intellectual Property agreements have to be transferred to the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Any IP owned by the business or created while on the programme (if registrable) should be registered in the UK. If the IP is already registered elsewhere it should also be registered in the UK.

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Are there any living expenses provided for those selected? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

No, however successful awardees will be granted a £15,000 cash prize.

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Can I take up a full-time or part-time job during the Fellowship? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

This is a full-time award so we expect you to spend all your time developing your business.

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When will I receive the funds? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

You will not receive any funds until you are in the UK and you have opened a UK business bank account and registered your business. This will be around the start of the Fellowship.

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Which visa will I need to apply for? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

If successful and a visa is required for you to stay in the UK, you will need to apply for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa through the Exceptional Promise route. We advise you to read the guidance document prior to making your application to see the requirements. You should typically receive a response within 3 weeks of applying for your visa.

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Can I change to a different visa category either during or after the Fellowship? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

We will not be able to advise you on switching visa categories. You will need to consult UKVI to see the criteria and eligibility for different visas.

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What are the English language requirements of the programme? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

You will need to demonstrate you are proficient in English to be selected for the Fellowship. This will allow you to maximise the training and opportunities on offer by the Enterprise Hub, and allow you to settle into your new life in the UK. You can show you meet the English language requirement in the following ways:

  • Being a national of a majority English speaking country
  • Passing an IELTS or TOEFL English language test
  • Holding a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree or above.

Full details can be found in the application guidance notes.

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Will there be support once I arrive in the UK? (Global Talent Enterprise Fellowships)

Yes, the Enterprise Hub team will aim to support you as much as is practical. At the beginning of the Fellowship, we will arrange some welcome sessions for you to meet the other participants and aim to make your transition into life in the UK as smooth as possible.

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Further information

Enterprise Fellowships guidance notes (508.25 KB)

Royal Academy Standard contract terms (641.04 KB)

All questions should be sent to the Enterprise team.