What is the aim of the Enterprise Fellowships?

Which scheme should I apply for?

Which research institutes are eligible?

I do not work at a university - whose approval do I need to get before I submit?

What is the success rate?

What counts as an engineering innovation?

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

How well developed must my product or idea be?

Are there nationality restrictions?

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

How will my application be assessed?

What are the assessment criteria?

What does the training consist of?

How long does the Enterprise Fellowship last?

What funding and other support would I receive?

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 Fellowship, can I apply too?

Where will I be based in the UK?

Further information


What is the aim of the Enterprise Fellowships?

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?

Our Enterprise Fellowships are for three types of people, all based in the UK:

  1. Researchers wishing to spinout a company from a university or research institute 
  2. Recent graduates wishing to create a company
  3. International PhD students wishing to spinout a company from a university, or to startup a company

All applicants complete the same application form, and it will present different questions depending on what category uou fit within, being a spinout from a larger organisation, or an entirely new startup with no 'parent body' support.

International PhD students can apply under either route, and should pick the most appropriate route for their employment situation.

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 Which research institutes are eligible?

All Higher Education Institutions are eligible, as are research institutes that are able to sign up on similar terms to universities.  If your employer is not a university, please refer to our standard contract below to check with your organisation whether this would be acceptable to them. If so, please get in touch with the team to confirm your eligibility.

Royal Academy Standard contract terms (641.04 KB)

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I am not spinning out from a university, whose approval do I need to get before I submit?

Applicants under the gradaute route who wish to startup a company do not need approval, but are required to submit a letter of recommendation from an independent person who can comment on the applicant, the technology and the business proposition.

Applicants wishing to spinout from a Research Institute will need to seek approval and written contributions from whomever within the organisation has sufficient authority to make statements regarding Intellectual Property ownership and the employment prospects of the applicant. The individuals selected will be required to confirm the applicant will be employed by the organisation for the duration of the Fellowship, and will have the necessary access to workspace, facilities, funding and Intelectual Property Rights required to achieve the aims of the proposal. 

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What is the success rate?

Typically around 25%.

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What counts as an engineering innovation?

Engineering is defined in its broadest sense, encompassing a wide range of diverse fields. We do not have a preference for any particular sector of engineering. If you think idea may lie in a non-engineering sector, 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 or essentially a shell company then yes you may apply. 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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How well developed must my product or idea be?

 We 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 plan to spend the year doing further research you are not yet ready for an Enterprise Fellowship.

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 investment and bootstrapping, its your company and your entirely 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 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. 

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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 primary applicant must play a leading role - CEO/COO. Please note that funding does not cover the salary of other members of staff. 

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How will my application be assessed?

Stage 1 is a quick review to check your suitability for the progreamme. At Stage 2 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 interview/pitch. The interview is a five minute pitch 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 are the assessment criteria?

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 an outstanding individuals with a great idea, we don’t expect the business plan to be perfect, that’s what the Fellowship and programme are for, but the quality of your plan does indicate your potential.

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 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, negotiation, 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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How long does the Enterprise Fellowship last?

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 funding and other support would I receive?

Enterprise Fellows receive £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 regular updates to the Academy and Mentor, and written reports every quarter The purpose of the report is to inform us of how we may best assist you.

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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 which you could protect as a form of intellectual property 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 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. 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.

If you have previously been awarded an Enterprise Fellowship then you may not reapply to receive a second Fellowship - you have access to our support already. Awardees of the Launchpad Competition however are eligible to apply, 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 - that spinout already has access to our support. 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.

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Further information

Enterprise Fellowships guidance notes (1,015.76 KB)

Royal Academy Standard contract terms (641.04 KB)

All questions should be sent to the Enterprise team.

 Which scheme should I apply for?

Our Enterprise Fellowships are for three types of people, all based in the UK:

  1. Researchers wishing to spinout a company from a university or research institue 
  2. Recent graduates wishing to create a company
  3. International PhD students wishing to spinout a company from a university, or to startup a company

 

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