Higher Education Innovation Fund projects

Our £3.2m p.a. Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) funding from HEFCE for supporting Innovation has underpinned our enabling work in this area as well as a number of key projects. Essential to this has been supporting the primary professional services infrastructure provided by our technology transfer teams at Queen Mary Innovation and our business development work in the Business Development team team.

Our overarching objectives for our HEIF work may be headed under Innovation, Enterprise and Business Engagement, Employability and Entrepreneurship and Social, Cultural and Community Engagement, with progress and intended outcomes measured against Indicators of Progress for new research-derived invention disclosures, the creation of new spinout companies, licences and consultancy income, research and teaching collaborations with external partners and student employability and entrepreneurship.

Here are some of our key programmes:

Proof of Concept Fund

We have invested in around ten promising early stage inventions each year, with up to £50k per proposal. These have covered a wide variety of areas - for example, in Science and Engineering these include organic integrated optics, length-scale engineering metallic components and iProducer, a music software tool. In Medicine and Dentistry proposals funded have included substituted phosphonates, novel tumour targeting immunofusion and receptors for joint disease. Contact: Graeme Brown.

Entrepreneurship and Employability

Projects funded here include GradClub Intensive - an intensive coaching programme from careers consultants, for un- and underemployed Queen Mary graduates; the Enterprise Programme, aimed at raising the number of student and graduate entrepreneurs (including social entrepreneurs) at Queen Mary and to develop the enterprise skills of all Queen Mary students; and QProjects Work Experience, an innovative work experience scheme for Queen Mary students and graduates which identifies individuals without the quality or quantity of work experience to progress into graduate level employment, and places them into charities to deliver projects for which the organisation would not otherwise have the skills or resource. Contact: Emily Huns.

Innovation China UK

ICUK has focussed on facilitating QM staff initiatives in China, supporting new research partnerships and KT initiatives, research funds, and contract/consultancy income. It also contributed significantly to a successful EPSRC Global Engagement grant, enabling new links to be built between QM and leading Chinese universities. These have led to rapidly developing new partnership - for example the research and innovation partnership with Chengdu in the area of materials physics has recently been the basis for a £400k new materials laboratory and new programmes of sharing research expertise between the two teams. Contact: Manyi Cristofoli.

Public Engagement

Support has been given to the highly successful Centre of the Cell (CoC) The CoC is one of the most popular public engagement destinations in the UK, with total attendance figures well over six figures. The CoC is a successful interactive science centre, science outreach project, online science education resource and widening participation initiative. It is the first science education centre in the world to be located within biomedical research laboratories. The project has won a number of national and international awards. It is also deeply rooted within its diverse local communities and acts as catalyst to stimulate further public engagement and outreach projects across the university. A project is underway to expand the CoC with the addition of a freestanding 'neuron pod', with matching funding from the Wellcome Trust and a number of other sources. Contact: CoC information.


qLegal, launched in 2014 at Google Campus in East London, is a new free legal advice service for east London digital companies. It provides advice to tech start-ups and entrepreneurs through its award-winning Legal Advice Centre. The new service, which is run in conjunction with collaborating law firms, in-house teams and academics, sees LLM students from QM's Centre for Commercial Law Studies providing advice directly to clients from the digital Shoreditch and Tech Hub community. Contact: Ian Walden.

Community organising

Queen Mary has a long tradition of engagement with its local community and a new project links students into new activities in this area, broadening their experience and skills. This is aimed at improving the relevance and impact of social research at QM, and helping the community generate solutions to social problems that might save public money and stimulate new enterprises. Some of the work includes setting up a new QM Citizens Group, linking Masters students with communities on local estates and providing training in leadership and community organizing. Contact: Jane Wills.