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Supporting staff, academics, research students, and recent graduates from The University of Manchester


Who is the Innovation Optimiser for?

  • Innovators with a venture proposition* which may be based on research, technology, a service delivery or a social enterprise
  • Founders of recently formed innovative ventures that require help, support and guidance on their journey
  • Individuals looking to inject entrepreneurial insight and behaviour, with a view to creating a future venture from their research based career
*Ideas may or may not be related to your area of work or research and are not necessarily based on University Intellectual Property. They may also be a service business or a venture with social or environmental impact.



What the Innovation Optimiser does

  • Provides a programme of learning and development to optimise and direct your start-up thinking, nurture your venture creation and develop a personalised route map for success
  • Provides access to trusted experts, tailored advice and guidance, and where appropriate One 2 One support to assist you with founding and growing your venture
  • Directs you to a range of appropriate awards, funding and finance sources to develop your innovation and accelerate growth




The Ignition activity raises awareness of the start-up process, provides funding, and inspires “would-be” innovators to engage in the Innovation Optimiser.

We have a rolling calendar of inspirational events run by our Enterprise Associates across the 3 Faculties and provide access to Ignition Awards.

Ignition Awards range from £500 to £2000 for individuals to try out or grow their entrepreneurial ideas. This might mean finding out if their idea is viable, learning more about what is needed and trying the project on a small scale, right through to more robust road testing of the idea. By supporting new opportunities, we aim to bring into reality the ideas of staff, academics and research students and help to maximise their potential for ‘real world’ use or societal benefit.

If you have an idea that is an innovative solution to a business, societal, or environmental problem with the potential to become a sustainable enterprise, please contact ignitionawards@umip.com.




The Roadmap programme is our signature workshop programme and lies at the core of our support for innovators. For many it is the start of a journey and is specifically designed to empower innovators and equip you with the skills and understanding to commercialise your idea. It features a series of half day workshops over consecutive months covering everything from balancing academia and entrepreneurship to launching your enterprise. Upon completion of the Roadmap programme, outcomes will include; a newly developed or improved business case, a pitch slide-deck or video (or both!), and a quality pitch structure to be used to provide your audience with a quick overview of your venture.

The sessions run as follows:

Entrepreneurial Mindset – Introducing how to develop a scientific hypothesis in a valid business case

Entrepreneurial Capability – Crafting a toolkit & framework for your start-up business – shaping your MVP, value proposition canvas, business model canvas

Entrepreneurial Effectiveness – Understanding your financials, assessing your intellectual property, delivering the perfect pitch

Entrepreneurial Awareness – Customer development & the art of storytelling

Entrepreneurial Living – Building you start-up business – team, financial model, orbit




Our Momentum activity gives innovators access to a bespoke 12-month support & mentoring package alongside a start-up award.

After attending the Roadmap series, if you wish to take your plan forward, you will be able to apply for additional support by submitting a Business Summary and pitching to our Business Review Panel. This will allow you to bid for a Momentum award alongside development services from the Enterprise Team and its supporting Partners and Associates. If successful, innovators agree to a small return for The University of Manchester via a Warrant or Royalty.




The Spotlight activity provides tailored support to innovators allowing you to focus on the key issues relating to your idea. It runs throughout the year, whether you’re a Social Entrepreneur or a tech savvy academic with an innovative idea, we run themed workshops and events with industry experts to ensure you have the have the appropriate support to help you focus on the specifics.




Our Partners and dedicated Enterprise Team provide innovators with a trusted support resource and platform to access further funding, guidance and support.

To optimise your start-up’s chances, we work with a range of carefully selected partners and associates. All of which bring specialist expertise, local knowledge and stakeholder benefit and insight to support our activities and develop our campus based innovators.




Q: How do I join the Innovation Optimiser and the Roadmap Sessions?

A: The first thing to do is contact one of the UMIP Commercialisation Executives who is responsible for your school and talk to them about your idea. They will be able to assess how best to support you. You can find their details here. You can also contact innovationoptimiser@umip.com for further details.

Q: Where can I find further information about the Innovation Optimiser?

A: You can find further information about the Innovation Optimiser and the support provided in our booklet.

Q: How developed does my idea need to be to join the Innovation Optimiser?

A: We understand that all our innovators are at different stages of their journeys, so we ask that you have the basis of a viable idea for a business or social enterprise and you wish to pursue it. We appreciate that that the idea will need work and development through our Roadmap programme to shape and refine it.

Q: How many Roadmap sessions do I need to come to?

A: To qualify for further Momentum support following the Roadmap programme, it is essential that you can attend the majority of the Roadmap sessions when offered a place. We ask that you attend at least 3 out of 5 sessions, however we recommend that you attend every session to ensure you get the most out of the programme.

Q: Do I need to get permission to take part in the Innovation Optimiser activity?

A: Academic staff will have full agreement from their Head of School or line manager to take part in the programme. Staff and research students will have permission from their line manager or supervisor.

Q: My idea has nothing to do with my work/research at the University. Can I still seek help from the Innovation Optimiser?

A: Of course, we welcome all innovators with potential ideas.

Q: When do the Roadmap sessions take place?

A: We typically run 3 cohorts per academic year – Autumn (September-December), Spring (January-May) and Summer (condensed cohort throughout June and July).

Q: If I join the Innovation Optimiser, what does UMIP expect in return?

A: We’re looking for individuals who will commit to engage in the process and share learning with colleagues. We expect nothing in return financially from our entrepreneurs until they successfully go through the Business Review Panel and seek further support via the Momentum programme. At this stage, innovators agree to a small return (2-4%) for The University of Manchester via a Warrant or Royalty. Further details are available in the Innovation Optimiser booklet.

Q: Are Ignition Awards available throughout the year?

A: We run different funding calls throughout the year for the Ignition Awards. To find out more about available rounds please email ignitionawards@umip.com.