Innovation fellowship programme: applications now open

Applications are now open to recruit the second cohort for an exciting fellowship programme designed to drive innovation and enterprise across the University.

An aerial photograph of campus taken from above the Parkinson building

And mentors are also being sought to support current and future fellows.

Funded through a £1 million donation from Michael Beverley, a Leeds alumnus and Yorkshire business leader, this pioneering initiative was inspired by the opportunity to develop the next generation of academic entrepreneurs and, in so doing, enhance the future of the University and help strengthen the regional economy.

Targeted at early and mid-career researchers at Leeds, the Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship Programme provides a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of commercialisation, and business engagement, assisting them in their ability to create economic and societal value from their research.

Among the first cohort is Dr Mahetab Amer, a University Academic Fellow in Predictive Disease Models with the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Reflecting on her fellowship journey so far, Dr Amer said: “I’m proud to be a member of this inspiring cohort of Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows.

“This programme fills the crucial gap in business knowledge and early-stage funding that I needed as an academic to start thinking about translating my research into innovative solutions for societal benefit. This helps bridge the gap I found between the world of academic research and the business landscape.”

Addressing the fellows during their first session, Michael Beverley said: “I attended the University when there were only 6,500 students and the way it has grown [since] and the influence of the University in the city has been striking.

“I am proud to be associated with the University of Leeds, as it plays an important part in the life of the country. The ideas that the fellows have, I am over-awed by them and the quality of the candidates – it makes me very humbled.”

Delivering impactful research

Each fellow receives up to £7,500 in funding to develop a concept, such as creating a new venture, service, applied research or external partnership. This will help raise their profile in the academic arena and put them on the trajectory for future research and innovation leadership roles within the University.

Fellows have the opportunity to share ideas with like-minded academics from other disciplines, who may be at a similar stage of their research journey or have experience they can draw upon.

The programme also creates the opportunity to:

  • build long-lasting, cross-disciplinary relationships with academic colleagues
  • expand external networks by engaging with industry experts; and
  • meet colleagues from across the University, who will be able to offer further support and guidance.

Speaking at the launch of the programme last October, Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “This unique fellowship programme will drive innovation engagement, supporting fellows to deliver impactful research.

“Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows will create a community of researchers that are outward facing and will drive entrepreneurial culture across the University. Not only will it help their research careers, but it will also build the reputations of the University, Leeds and the city region as destinations where entrepreneurs can thrive.”

Knowledge enhancement

Fellows will be provided with the tools, techniques and methodologies to disrupt their traditional way of thinking, and will be supported in incorporating impact in the early development of their research proposals.

They’re also shown how to pitch their research to business experts, taking an idea from concept to reality.

Access to experts

Fellows have access to an inspiring network of trusted business experts, senior academics and Leeds alumni through our Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-based mentoring programme.

They get to hear from inspirational high-profile speakers from business and the wider University community, who can support their research journey.

Highlights from the first cohort included a keynote speech from Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, an award-winning space scientist, broadcaster and author, which focused on her innovation journey. 

Ongoing support

During the programme, Fellows attend a bi-monthly networking group providing peer learning and support. They also have three dedicated mentors for 12 months, covering the duration of the programme and the early stages of implementing their agreed research plan.

Further support includes open-access online resources and complimentary Nexus Community Membership, including access to member events and use of the innovation hub’s business lounge.

How to apply

Visit the programme’s webpage for further information and details of how to apply. Applications close at 6pm on Sunday 25 July and the programme will begin in September this year.

If you would like to support current and future cohorts through the programme as a mentor, please contact Jo Howorth, Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship Lead. Mentoring for the current cohort begins on Tuesday 23 March.

Please contact the programme team with any questions.

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