Academic Entrepreneurship: Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowships

The brief

Enterprise Fellowships were launched to establish the commercial potential of the Intellectual Property being created in university research parks – and to transfer the skills required to commercialise viable projects, to bridge the divide between academia and industry – and create new jobs and businesses in the knowledge economy.

YTKO Group, having created and delivered a successful pilot Bioscience Enterprise Fellowship programme supporting 30 Fellows, was granted funding for a new £2.3m Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship programme from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, who were keen to expand their reach further still.

Our response

With proven expertise in proof of concept and proof of market work, and its 30 year business commercialisation expertise, YTKO Group combined a specialist level of ‘start up training for scientists’ with grant management, to help university research scientists establish the best commercial outcome for their IP.

A robust, competitive selection process identified sixty-five clinical and academic researchers from more than 300 applications across nine universities. Research and technology development projects accepted onto the scheme ranged from disease diagnostics, regenerative stents, anti-oxidant therapies, tissue engineering, cancer medicines and diagnostics, to thrombosis inhibitors, cell scaffolding and adhesive coatings, computer tools for industrial radiation, nanoparticle production, a smart wheelchair, and many more.

YTKO Group’s delivery model was tailored to be effective irrespective of diversity in the range of potential commercial applications. Deliverables included: the initial assessment and validation of applications; consultancy on markets, production, business models, partnering and negotiation; entrepreneurship training; specialist workshops on patents and licensing, business planning, funding – including grant allocation and management – strategy, marketing, IT skills, communication and presentation skills and investment readiness.

“Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowships is one of the flagship programmes for the bioscience and healthcare technologies sectors’ development. The return has been significant: all expectations in terms of volume and quality of outputs have been exceeded by a substantial margin – and the amount of private sector funding attracted has been more than double the original target.

All of this directly underpins the Yorkshire Forward objective of helping to create a strong and sustainable healthcare technologies industry within our region. It is a hugely successful programme which we are confident will continue to increase entrepreneurial and commercial activity in Yorkshire’s Universities, ultimately creating new jobs and buying more money into the region – what could be better than that?” Simon Hill, Executive Director of Business, Yorkshire Forward.

Each Fellow was also matched with an experienced, senior-level industry mentor, including some very well known and respected C-level executives, who brought further strength and depth of commercial insight to the individual Fellows.


The Bioscience Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship (BYEF) pilot attracted 30 Fellows, to form nine spin-out companies and leverage £4.1m in public and private sector funding.

The Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship scheme, with its broader remit, supported 65 Fellows over the same 30 month period, to create eight new companies, 16 new business-knowledge collaborations and leverage more than £5.4m funding.

The total return on public sector investment was 366 percent. One third of spin-out companies were established by women scientists, a unique achievement given the significant under-representation of women in SET entrepreneurship.

The Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship scheme was publicly declared a “Flagship Programme” by the RDA at its last open conference.

Dr Simon Baker – Fellow, University of York

Dr Sally Atkinson – Fellow, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Debbie Fischer – Fellow, University of Bradford

Victoria Vinader – Fellow, University of Bradford

Dr Peter Walker – Fellow, University of Leeds

Dr Steeve Lamvohee – Fellow, University of Hull