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 are not sure if your idea will count as engineering please contact the programme manager to discuss.
How well developed must my product or idea be?
You must be at proof of concept or beyond – both in a commercial and technical sense, 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 do not believe you will be ready to seek 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, it is your company and your entirely choice. For those planning on a bootstrapping approach, consider if you could hypothetically be ready to raise at by the end of the Fellowship – if so then you are likely at the right stage to apply.
What is the success rate?
Around 20% of applicants are accepted onto the programme, but this varies with applicant numbers.
Can we apply as a team?
A good team is essential, so we want you to hear about them if you have one, but this award support just one individual only. The team may participate in training on your behalf when you cannot attend, but we are primarily supporting the lead applicant to become a better entrepreneur, rather than the whole team or the company itself. You do not have to have a team.
Where will I be based in the UK?
Wherever you like. We are not tied to any part of the UK specifically, although training and events mostly take place at our offices in London.
How will I be assessed?
In three stages. Stage one is an eligibility check administered by staff – we do not assess how good the technology or applicant is, merely their fit with the programme. The assessment criteria for Stage two are given in the guidance notes, and in short reviewers are asked to comment upon the applicant, the technology, the team, the required resources, the business plan and the overall commercial credibility. Stage three is an interview with a selection of the review panel. Interviews are held around six to seven weeks after the submission deadline.
We look for outstanding individuals with a great idea. We don’t expect the business plan to be perfect at this stage, that’s what the programme will help you refine, but the quality of your plan does indicate to your potential.
What does the training consist of?
Most awardees have already undertaken some training or reading about starting up, so our training assumes a base level of knowledge and takes you to the next level in areas such as marketing, business modelling, finance, sales, negotiation, team and leadership, and pitch practice.
If you have no knowledge, or limited knowledge, in any given area we'll suggest some prior reading for you to catch up. You will also become part of a cohort of fellow trainees going through the same issues that you are, and are expected to both give help to and learn from your fellow awardees.
How is my mentor chosen?
A mentor will be appointed by the Academy to offer support and advice and facilitate links as the commercialisation progresses. We will select them based on a combination of what you think you need help with and what our expert panel think you need help with, following their assessment of you.
The mentor will be a Fellow of the Academy or an industry expert 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.
What is my university's spinout and startup policy?
This varies by university and you will need to contact your Technology Transfer Office as soon as possible if you are considering applying - university employees must obtain their permission to apply.
Students often, but not always, own any IPR they generate and IP Rank may assist in identifying your university's policy.
What are the rules on the use of AI in applications?
AI Guidelines for Applicants:
- Taking Responsibility for Content: Applicants are fully responsible for all the content presented in their grant applications. The grant process does not penalise the use of generative AI tools, but it is imperative to ensure that the application reflects the applicant's own voice and ideas.
- Rigorous Approach: Applicants should exercise caution when using generative AI tools to avoid the inclusion of ‘hallucinated’ references or factual errors. These often become more common when up to date content on a very specific topic is required, which is typical for most of our application areas. Such inaccuracies will be perceived as indications of a lack of rigor and will negatively impact the assessment of the application.
- Partial Use of AI Tools: It is not acceptable to solely rely on generative AI tools to write the entire grant application from start to finish. While these tools may be used to assist in various aspects, the application must primarily represent the applicant's own work.
- Plagiarism Considerations: Applicants should be aware that the output generated by some AI tools may utilise ideas from other human authors without proper referencing. As this is considered a form of plagiarism, it is essential to ensure that all sources are appropriately attributed.
- Proper Acknowledgement of AI Usage: Applicants must provide clear acknowledgement if they have used generative AI tools in the process of writing their grant applications. This includes disclosing the name of the tool used and describing how it was utilised.