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Are you a researcher at one of our partner universities? Do you have product, service or license opportunities in mind right now, or want to develop the commercial potential of your research in future?

Future Founders is our training offer designed specifically for academics to embrace enterprise opportunities, and is available to academics at all Northern Accelerator universities. If you’re serious about making commercialisation a reality, this is the course for you. 

You’ll be signing up to a programme of workshops which will build your entrepreneurial capability and accelerate your idea development. The workshops will cover:

• Diagnosing opportunities and exploring the market
• Accelerating development and de-risking opportunities
• Business planning and business building
• Enterprise financing and fund-raising

The next cohort of Future Founders will take place in June & July 2022. 

Find out more in the FAQs below and apply by completing this short form here by 23 May 2022.  

“The content of Future Founders was excellent. The opportunity to meet other academics involved in spinning out businesses from Durham and other institutions was invaluable. The opportunity to discuss the business and emerging contract opportunities with the course organisers was extremely valuable.”

Previous Future Founders participant

Frequently asked questions

Please read the FAQs on this page, and then speak to your technology transfer team at your university to confirm that Future Founders is the right course for you. You should then complete this short form here by 23 May 2022. 

Yes, as long as you’re an academic at one of our partner universities and have a keen interest in developing the commercial potential of your research now or in the future, you’re welcome to apply.  Please set out your reasons for wanting to attend on the short application form.  We’ll be working in small groups throughout the workshops and those without their own ideas will be contributing as a resource on someone else’s idea.

The course leaders will be under non-disclosure / confidentiality agreements.  There are likely to be academics from all five Northern Accelerator universities on each cohort.  Our advice would be that you should share as much or as little as you are comfortable doing – you won’t have to reveal anything during the workshops that would threaten your ability to secure IP later.

Whether you’re attending Future Founders or not, your technology transfer team at your own university can also help you understand what you should do to protect your IP.

No, but we do ask that you seek your Head of Department’s agreement to apply (there’s a question on the application form about this), and discuss your intention to apply with your university’s technology transfer team. This is so we can ensure Future Founders is the right course for you. 

We are encouraging a broad range of ideas from across institutions and disciplines. Ideas might be components, products, scalable services, or license opportunities, educational or health platforms, or molecules, software or data assets… the list is endless!

In short, no!  The programme is set up to maximise the benefits from peer to peer learning and may be tailored to the needs of specific cohorts.  Switching between cohorts is therefore not possible.

The course will take place at The Vermont Hotel, Newcastle.

There will also be a half-day online workshop prior to the final session and celebration event. 

The sessions take place on: 

  • Tuesday 21 June, 8.45-17.00, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle 
  • Tuesday 28 June, 8.45-17.00, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle 
  • Tuesday 12 July, 8.45am-17.00, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle 
  • Tuesday 19 July, 9am-12noon, online via Zoom 
  • Thursday 21 July, 8.45 – 6pm, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle 


Future Founders is fully funded by Northern Accelerator, so there is no cost to you as an individual, or to your department. 

However, the course is a significant investment in you, so we do ask that if you are unable to attend for any reason, you give us as much notice as possible so that we can fill your place. 

Future Founders is funded by Northern Accelerator using funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund. 

The course covers: 

  • Diagnosing opportunities
    • Overview of the development and commercialisation process
    • The realities of the spin-out journey (case stories)
    • Diagnosing the opportunity – needs, barriers and limitations, solution routes
    • Exploring the market opportunity and applications to target first
    • Customer segmentation and personas
    • Competitor analysis and competitive advantage
  • Accelerating development
    • Overview of the scoping process
    • Exploring the total business system for ‘musts, gaps and risks’
    • Designing and executing market, customer and user research
    • Freedom to operate and protecting IP
    • Accelerating development, managing and mitigating risk
    • Key milestones and action planning
    • Introduction to business planning
  • Business planning and business building
    • Building a credible team
    • Market engagement – how and when
    • Prototyping and testing
    • Business modelling
    • Brand building
    • Writing the business plan
  • Finance and fundraising
    • Introduction to financial statements and budgeting
    • Overview of the funding requirements of a business, and how this evolves
    • Building a cash-flow projection
    • Different sources of funding, different types of investors and what they look for
    • The fundraising process – step by step
    • Avoiding the pitfalls and closing the deal
    • Building and managing relationships with important investors
    • Responsibilities and accountabilities of Directors
    • ‘Pitch school’ – build and deliver your winning pitch.

Future Founders will equip you with the skills and knowledge to recognise and embrace commercial opportunities from your research. Your university’s technology transfer team will work closely with you to do this, and you may be interested in getting involved (if you’re not already) with other elements of Northern Accelerator’s support, such as our pre-incorporation funding or executives into business.

We’re investing in you and we want to help you make an impact with the outcome of your research, so we’ll ensure we put you in touch with the right people at your university to progress those opportunities.

Many of our previous participants have gone on to launch their own spin-out businesses, with the research they progressed throughout their time on Future Founders.