Spinning out your research

Posted on: 15 March 2024 by Michal Filus (Number of words: 539; Read time: 2 minutes, 41 seconds) in Blog posts

Portrait of Michal Filus
Michal Filus

Michal Filus, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Manager within the Enterprise team, University of Liverpool, discusses the process of spinning out your research.

Spinning out research involves creating a separate entity, often a spinout company, to commercialise innovative ideas or technologies originating from academic research. This process transforms intellectual property into marketable products or services, leveraging entrepreneurship to maximize the societal impact of research findings.

Initially, spinning out research requires identifying promising research outcomes with commercial potential. Researchers evaluate the feasibility of their ideas, considering market demand, competition, and scalability, typically via direct market engagement or participation in accelerator programmes like Innovate UK powered ICURe. Once a viable concept is identified, the process of spinning out begins.

Key steps include securing intellectual property rights through patents or copyrights to protect the innovation from unauthorized use. Researchers collaborate with University’s Enterprise team and legal experts to navigate complex intellectual property landscapes and ensure proper protection.

Next, researchers assemble multidisciplinary teams comprising business professionals, operation managers and scientists to develop a commercialisation strategy. This involves refining the technology, conducting market research, and crafting a business plan to attract investors and stakeholders.

Securing funding is crucial for spinning out research. Researchers may pursue grants, venture capital, or angel investors to finance spinout costs, research and development, and initial operations. Successful fundraising relies on effectively communicating the innovation's value proposition, market potential, and competitive advantage. The University of Liverpool offers Enterprise Investment Fund that is used to seed your early stage business venture.

With funding secured, the spinout enters the execution phase, where the focus shifts to product development, marketing, and sales. Researchers-turned-entrepreneurs must navigate regulatory requirements, establish partnerships, and build a customer base to drive adoption of their innovation.

The journey of spinning out research is marked by challenges and uncertainties. Researchers encounter obstacles such as funding constraints, technical hurdles, and market saturation. However, perseverance, adaptability, and strategic decision-making are essential for overcoming these challenges and achieving success.

Ultimately, spinning out research offers researchers a pathway to translate academic discoveries into tangible solutions that benefit society. By embracing entrepreneurship, researchers can maximize the impact of their work, drive innovation, and contribute to economic growth and prosperity.

It is also important to note and realise that the spinout route is one of many ways to commercialise your research. Spinning out your research is not always the reasonable and commercially viable answer and that’s fine. Commercialising your research may happen via many other routes like licensing your technology or forming a joint venture.

The Enterprise team within University’s Research, Partnerships and Innovation directorate, supports researchers who would like to commercialise their research. Check out our spinout portfolio here. Please contact us to discuss your research commercialisation idea!

Michal and the Enterprise team are leading several workshops as part of Making an Impact 2024 to help researchers better understand research commercialisation and the resources available at the University of Liverpool:

'Why Commercialise? Benefits, impact and research dollars' - 16th May 2024, 11:30-13:00 BST, in person at the University of Liverpool. Find out more and reserve your place here: https://MAI24WhyCommercialise.eventbrite.co.uk

'Spinning out your research: Why, when and how?' - 3rd June 2024, 14:00-15:30 BST, in person at the University of Liverpool. Find out more and reserve your place here: https://MAI24SpinningResearch.eventbrite.co.uk

'Grant writing workshop with Innovate UK Business Growth' - 12th June May 2024, 10:00-12:00 BST in person at the University of Liverpool. Find out more and reserve your place here: https://MAI24InnovateUKEdgeWriting.eventbrite.co.uk

About the author

Michal Filus takes the role of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Manager within the Enterprise team, University of Liverpool. Michal provides operational support to the University’s Enterprise Investment Fund and manages entrepreneurial training programmes for research and research support colleagues.

Further reading:

IP Commercialisation pages: https://staff.liverpool.ac.uk/research/ip-commercialisation/  

UKRI Research Commercialisation: https://www.ukri.org/what-we-do/commercialisation/ 

UKRI How to commercialise your research: https://www.ukri.org/councils/esrc/impact-toolkit-for-economic-and-social-sciences/how-to-commercialise-your-research/#contents-list  

Luca Mannocchi, UKRI BBSRC, Challenges and opportunities for commercialisation of research out of the social sciences: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/challenges-opportunities-commercialisation-research-out-mannocchi/