Do I have to have an idea?

You do not need an idea to join Phase I (training sessions). All that is required is an enthusiasm for how technology could be used to help cancer patients and a strong interest in entrepreneurism. You must have an idea or to have formed a team around an idea during Phase I if you would like to continue to Phase II and apply for funding.

What developmental stage should my idea/technology be at?

As above, an idea is only required to receive funding in Phase II. The idea can be still conceptual or more developed – as the Accelerator will cover a broad range of technologies and their various development pathways, we will be tailoring it to you and so we would encourage all to apply.

Are there any specific areas that I have to work on?

No. We are interested in any approach that uses diagnostics, medical devices, omics or profiling technologies, imaging, data, analytics or machine learning to advance the diagnosis, monitoring, management, or treatment of cancer patients. We are particularly interested in approaches to improve the early detection of cancer patients, although this is not a specific requirement and applications in all other oncology areas are welcomed.

Can I apply as a team?

Yes, but we will only be able to offer stipend support for up to two founders per team to ensure that sufficient funding remains to support development work.  

Do I need to be in a team or have existing collaborations?

No, this is not a requirement to be accepted. There will be opportunities to form teams with other entrepreneurs during Phase I, although again, team formation itself is not a requirement. We can help you to form collaborations with academic groups from across the CRUK and Roche networks if you require technical expertise to develop your technology during Phase II.

I am not currently studying or working at a university or research institute. Can I apply?

Yes. You are welcome to join Phase I to benefit from the entrepreneur training. You will have to form a team with other Accelerator participants based at an academic institute to receive the funding as part of Phase II, as we are unable to fund individuals directly.

Do I need to have business knowledge to apply?

Absolutely not. Phase I is specifically aiming to provide you with these skills, taught by industry professionals, existing founders and experts taken from across our networks. The best way to learn is by doing!

I have already started a company around my idea. Am I still able to apply?

The Accelerator is primarily aimed at academic participants, but we will consider including a small proportion of places to seed stage companies who may benefit from access to our deep oncology and technical knowledge. Companies should not have raised more than £200k to date to be eligible. We will not directly fund companies but can support collaborations between companies and relevant academic groups.

Do I have to have been in receipt of Cancer Research UK funding to apply?

No. The Accelerator is open to all participants regardless of previous funding. All we ask is that your previous work is not subject to any commercial third-party rights (e.g. if your PhD studentship or postdoc was industry funded or performed in collaboration with a company).

Do I need the permission of my supervisor or university to apply?

You should ask your supervisor before applying to the Accelerator as there is a time commitment. Provided that your concept/technology is not encumbered (e.g. if you are already working with a company), you do not need to inform your host institution to enter Phase I, but you must let them know before you apply for Phase II and the funding.

Participating in the Accelerator

Am I committing to forming a company or continuing into Phase II?
One of the main objectives of the Accelerator is to teach researchers entrepreneurship and business skills. You are welcome to apply for the Accelerator and if after Phase I you decide that the start-up world is not for you, there is no obligation to continue or to apply for funding as part of the programme. Even if you are successful in Phase II and are awarded the £50k funding, you still do not have to commit to becoming a founder. We have built flexibility into the Accelerator such that this can be treated as academic funding in the usual ways.
Do I have to relocate to join?

No. The majority of sessions will be run either entirely virtually, or as a mixture of in person and virtual (depending on COVID restrictions at the time). Where possible, demo days and pitching events will be held in person in London, to which you would be encouraged to attend in person, although this is not an absolute requirement.

How can I balance attendance with my existing studies or employment?

Phase I of the programme is designed to sit alongside your existing activities, comprising roughly 8 hours of interactive sessions per week for 12 weeks (split into 2-4 hour sessions across each week). There will be assignments to complete offline. Phase II represents a six-month full-time commitment, for which you may be eligible for a £2k per month salary stipend to give you the flexibility to return to your academic position if you so decide.

If I am successful in Phase II, do you offer office or lab space?

We may be able to host you in our facilities in London or Cambridge, or through collaborations that we may be able to help set up for you.

Where do your mentors come from?

The Accelerator is a partnership between CRUK, Roche UK and Capital Enterprise – providing access to our collective networks of oncology, clinical and technical knowledge. We are also leaning on the expertise of The Technology Partnership and other partners to provide deeper tailored mentorship and support.


How does the £70k funding work?

If you are selected to enter Phase II, we will award you up to £70k funding as a CRUK grant award letter directly to your research institution.

I’m not currently working or studying at a research institution. Will I be able to receive funding?

No not directly. You will have to join another team containing existing academics to be eligible for funding during Phase II.

I already have a company. How will I receive funding?

You will not be able to receive funding directly. You will have to identify a collaboration with an academic group (we can help with this, or you may already have links with relevant researchers). We will then put in place a collaboration agreement whereby the funding is provided to the academic group to enable them to work with you to develop your technology. 

What support-in-kind is Roche offering?

Roche have committed up to £50k support-in-kind to be split between the five teams chosen to proceed to Phase II. This could represent preferential access to equipment or technical capabilities, such as sequencing or imaging support. Representatives from Roche will meet with each Phase II team to ascertain what help can be offered. No additional equity or downstream costs will be incurred by teams that make use of this kind offer, but access to this support will be done on terms and conditions to be agreed between the participant and Roche.


Start-up formation and intellectual property

How does start-up formation work?

During Phase II we will work with successful teams to form companies with team members as directors listed at Companies House. Neither CRUK, Roche nor Capital Enterprise will take equity in these companies. CRUK’s Commercial Partnerships team has extensive experience of forming start-ups and can provide all legal support  to enable this.

What happens if my concept isn’t developed enough by the end of Phase II to enter a start-up company?

As one of the five teams in Phase II, our mentors and sector experts will work with you to support the development of your technology. It may be that at the end of the six months of Phase II, the approach looks promising, but an additional few months’ work is required before it is start-up ready. We will continue to support your development as best we can and will work with you to help identify alternative routes forward.

How will my new start-up get access to IP developed in my research?

It is usual for the academic institution where you performed your research to own your IP, which would have to be licensed to your new start-up before seeking future investment (this would also be the case for other accelerators). CRUK has relationships with most academic institutes in the UK, enabling us to (where required) secure access for your new start-up to any IP that was developed before joining the Accelerator (‘background IP’). Whether this background IP was developed using CRUK funding or not, we will work with you and your   host institute to license this to your new start-up. It is standard practice for this licence to incur payments back to the host institute (and any funders) in the form of milestone payments and royalties. As the main driver of the Accelerator is to train the next generation of entrepreneurs rather than for any financial return on investment, we expect any milestones and royalties to be ‘backloaded’ (limited upfront or early-stage payments so as not to divert funding from early development activities). Any obligations to share revenue will be minimal and in proportion to the stage of technology and contribution that the background IP makes to the wider IP package. Do please get in touch if you require further clarification on this point.

Who will own IP developed during the Accelerator?

You will retain ownership of all IP generated during Phase I of the Accelerator. The £50k funding provided under Phase II will be through an academic research grant and therefore provided under CRUK grant T&Cs (https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/applying-for-funding/conditions-of-your-grant). The intention is that, at the point of start-up formation, CRUK will work with your technology transfer office to collate all relevant IP so that it can be licensed into the new start-up in one package under one licence.

I have developed some of the concept in my own spare time, without any additional funding. Will you claim this IP?

No. Any IP developed independently is yours to keep and will not form part of or be reflected in any licence discussed above.

As a PhD student, my university allows me to own my IP. Will you claim this IP?

No. Again, this is yours to keep and will not form part of any licence. Some universities stipulate that if the funders that supported your work claim rights to the IP then you must assign all IP to your university. CRUK can help your new start-up to secure access to this IP through our existing relationships (as if it were background IP as discussed above).

I already have a company. What happens to IP if I enter Phase II and get funded?

As a company, if you are accepted into Phase II, we will fund a collaboration between your company and a relevant academic institution. This will be governed by a research collaboration agreement which will give you an option to take a licence to any IP generated during the collaboration. Again, this will likely include minimal milestones and/or royalties.

What support can my new start-up get next?

We believe the Accelerator is a natural fit upstream of many of the more traditional accelerators and incubators running across the UK. At, or shortly after, the end of the 9-month programme, you will be a founder of a start-up, with a licence to all relevant background IP and a healthy network of mentors and collaborators. Through our networks, we have relationships with many other accelerators and incubators, which would likely be a natural fit for your start-up (e.g. Capital Enterprise’s P4 programme, Panacea Stars, StartCodon, IndieBio, or Y Combinator). As well as the other programmes part of Cancer Research Uk’s Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative. We would also be interested to explore options for follow-on funding through CRUK’s own investment channels.