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Important documents to download

For more information see our 'how to apply' page

Important dates

The links below include the dates for submission of projects to the Yorkshire Concept Fund as well as dates for Yorkshire Concept Board meetings.

Yorkshire Concept Fund meeting dates and submission schedule 2010 (pdf)


Important contacts

Each HEI has a nominated representative who puts forward projects to the Yorkshire Concept Board.

Please select your most relevant contact:

University of Bradford - Andy Duley / 01274 235409

University of Huddersfield - Barry Timmins / 01484 471165

University of Hull - Robert Singh 01482 464905 

University of Leeds - Brian McCaul / 0113 34337665

Leeds Metropolitan University - Andrew Marran / 0113 8129139
Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Leeds Trinity University College - Philip Williams / 0113 2837151

University of Sheffield - Sarah Fulton / 0114 2221446

Sheffield Hallam University - Rob Evans / 0114 2255000

University of York - Andy Jackson / 01904 435252

York St John University - Simon Newton / 01904 876357

Fera - The Food and Environment Research Agency - Louise Byass / 01904 462777



Yorkshire Concept:


A key component of the Government's agenda to ensure the UK remains and improves its position as one of the world's most competitive nations is to increase the amount of commercially exploitable knowledge transfer from the higher education sector to UK plc.  

This is not surprising as HEIs naturally work in a global and international environment, breeding new ideas, inventions, innovations and technologies from science, technology and knowledge that combined with talented people is amongst the best in the world. As the world economy evolves, economic development strategies must evolve as well and with technological advances breaking across the globe, Yorkshire and the Humber must seek ways to harness its own emerging technologies, ideas and scientific breakthroughs, and convert them into routes for investment, jobs and competitive advantage in the business community.

The region’s Higher Educational Institutions  (HEIs) are second to none and represent a huge pool of talent and knowledge, generating a constant source of new technologies and business possibilities. The Yorkshire Concept - Proof of Commercial Concept Fund (The Fund) ) aims to capture this potential for the benefit of wealth creation and economic prosperity in the region.

Based on a two year project funded through the Higher Education Innovation Fund from 2004-6 the universities of Bradford, Hull and Sheffield Hallam piloted a £600,000 Fund, that lay the groundwork for the present Fund. Following the conclusion of this Fund the region’s HEIs working with Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire Forward collaborated to develop Yorkshire Concept: Proof of Commercial Concept. In September 2007 the Yorkshire Forward Board approved £3m support to a 3 year region which alongside £3m co-investment from the HEIs created £6m in total.

What’s in a name?

Yorkshire Concept: Proof of Commercial Concept is carefully named because this is a Fund very much aimed at testing the rigour of propositions against a particular and specific market demand and entry point, in which academics and business development managers need to demonstrate their understanding of the often complex markets surrounding their new product and technology, and to help do this by elaborating on their relationships and contacts with firms in the market place.  Pitching their proposition to a Board dominated by private sector people with a long experience of businesses and markets can make this a tough call. But markets are ruthless, and this is a very high risk stage in the life of a business idea, and although investors would not invest at this stage, the aim is they would consider doing so by the end of the funding period. To give a project the best possible chance of succeeding by project end, the Board has to be as confident as possible at the pitch session that the idea, the proposed concept plan, and the team it hears and sees deliver the proposition, understand the technology, the product, the market problem it sets out to solve, how it might get to its first sale and how money will be made.

Aims and objectives

Creating the conditions for the successful exploitation of new technology and know how is not a straightforward business and includes many partners and stakeholders whose goal is also to realise greater regional prosperity. Equally the sharing of good practice, know how, contacts and experience amongst the HEIs is a fundamental part of developing the Fund, and obtaining investment readiness at proposition close, consequently the Fund has a number of objectives to:

  • Stimulate and increase the level and quality of commercialisation propositions

from the HEIs;

  • Help links and relationships with agencies, organisations and individuals who could provide seed corn and/or third party funds;
  • Contribute and stimulate cultural change, networking and good practice within and between institutions;
  • Help support collaborative research and development with regional companies;
  • Contribute to the development of the regional sectors by facilitating the exploitation of technology.

How does it work?  

Finance for the Fund works through the mechanism of co-investment, and 50% of the grant for each proposition is sourced by the university in cash, which in turn matches 50% cash sourced by Yorkshire Forward and managed through Sheffield Hallam University. The fund will make grant awards normally in the order of £30,000 to £100,000 to propositions based on the principle of 50%:50% .Academics and business development managers deliver a 10 mins 'pitch' to the Yorkshire Concept Board to receive a decision and comment from the 12 person Board. The session is followed by a 25 minute or so questions and answer session, with decisions made on the day.

By February 2010 after two years in operation the Fund has awarded nearly 40 grants committing £2 million.

The Fund seeks to work closely within the regional access to finance infrastructure and has follow on funders on its Board, as well as working closely with partners and stakeholders offering either further investment as well as support training programmes for entrepreneurs, business start ups and access to mentors and business angels such as the Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship scheme, Connect Yorkshire, Yorkshire Fund Managers, Yorkshire Association of Business Angels, the Viking Fund and Business Link Yorkshire.

The pilot fund

Of the 17 proposals supported by the pilot fund two of these have become university spin outs and raised external investment and are detailed in the case studies and five others are the subject of licence deals with companies from Yorkshire to North America. Although still early in the commercialisation process, the Fund has an important role to play in providing initial funding to test these new technologies and associated business ideas for their robustness and commercial application. Although still early in the commercialisation process this is leading  to new businesses, new jobs and more innovative, productive and competitive companies. This is an acknowledged  high risk activity and output lead-in times can be long, but the businesses whether created or expanded offer substantial growth potential, and by attracting, employing and retaining talented people in high quality jobs, can dramatically increase the conversion of the HEIs knowledge base into the platform to support and grow a strong world class knowledge based economy.


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