Funded through a £1 million donation from Michael Beverley, a Leeds alumnus and Yorkshire business leader, the Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship is designed to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and support early career researchers (our Fellows) on their innovation and entrepreneurial journey.
Fellows accelerate their ideas through disrupting traditional ways of thinking, building knowledge and confidence around enterprise, business engagement and commercialisation. This intensive development programme provides a safe space for Fellows to test and share their ideas, their successes, and overcome challenges to achieve their project and research goals. The Fellowship encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration, the development of external partnerships and networking. It has also proved a useful mechanism for career development and advancement for many of our Fellows.
The Fellowship consists of four key strands – funding, delivered sessions, coaching support, and networking – providing a comprehensive, 360 approach to supporting researchers. This framework enables Fellows to build their knowledge, skills and confidence and identify the right pathway for them so that impactful research is a natural outcome.
We award a number of fellowships per cohort, each receives up to £7,500 in funding to develop a concept such as creating a new policy, service, applied research, or external partnership. This helps to raise their profile in the academic arena and places them on a trajectory for future leadership roles within the University.
Fellows are provided with the tools, techniques and methodologies to disrupt their traditional way of thinking. This approach helps them to think critically about the wider effect or impact of their research proposals and project work.
Fellows listen to inspiring talks from high-profile speakers from business, external organisations and the wider University community. They also engage in interactive workshops designed to inspire and build momentum for their ideas. Each session includes protected time for discussion and networking where Fellows have a unique opportunity to share ideas with like-minded academics from all disciplines, who may be at a similar stage of their research journey or have experiences they can draw upon.
“Having people from different faculties is incredibly valuable. We all have different views on things and have lively discussions. Outside the Fellowship I wouldn’t ever meet these people. We tend to work within our own bubbles. It’s nice to interact with, develop networks, and help people from other faculties …I enjoy liaising with different people, and the Fellowship has the potential to really encourage people to consider collaborations.” – Cohort 2 Fellow, Faculty of Medicine and Health.
During these hands-on sessions, the Fellows learn how to practically apply a wide range of techniques, including design thinking for human-centred design, to develop their proposals and to support their wider research activities.
Critically, they also learn how to effectively communicate and pitch their ideas and research to external audiences, including funders and business experts, with a focus on enabling them to transform their ideas from concepts into reality.
“Supported by the Fellowship, I secured a lectureship within my research area … It’s a great opportunity to explore and expand my research.” – Cohort 1 Fellow, Faculty of Biological Sciences.
Fellows are provided with professional coaching training from leading experts in the field in order to provide peer-based coaching to other Fellows. This ‘Community of Practice’ model is a recent Fellowship development and creates a cohesive and inclusive environment in which Fellows can flourish. Through our unique coaching programme, Fellows also have access to senior academics and an inspiring network of Entrepreneurs in Residence (an expert group providing bespoke support to Fellows as and when required for their specific project work).
“External expertise has been developmental, both in terms of the Fellowship and also my career. It is rare to have people in meetings who are there purely to help me, suggesting ideas of how to achieve my aims. I leave the meetings having a clearer idea and feeling uplifted. Their belief in me has been transformative in terms of thinking about my career and about the Fellowship.” – Cohort 2 Fellow, Lecturer, Faculty of Environment.
During the programme and beyond, Fellows attend regular networking sessions with their cohort group, providing peer learning and support. They also have access to an alumni Fellowship coach, and expertise from our database of Entrepreneurs in Residence. This network of support is maintained following the delivery of the programme to ensure participating Fellows receive appropriate expertise and guidance throughout all stages of their research plan. Following the end of the programme, Fellows continue to be a part of the alumni network, a long-lasting group supporting each other in their research and professional development.
“This unique fellowship programme will drive innovation engagement, supporting Fellows to deliver impactful research. Michael Beverley Innovation Fellows will create a community of researchers that are outward facing and will drive entrepreneurial culture across the University. Not only will it help their research careers, but it will also build the reputations of the University, Leeds and the city region” – Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation
Interviews with previous Fellows and Mentors (hosted on Youtube):
- Rob Beadling
- Silviu Cobeanu
- Ray Holt
- Katie McDermott
- Ian McIntosh
- Suparna Mitra
- Paul Slater
- Suruchi Roychoudhry
- Kieran Zucker
For more information about the Fellowship and how to apply, please contact Jo Howorth, Head of Skills Development
ODPL, in collaboration with members of the University’s Impact Network, run Building Impact Momentum. This programme is primarily for those relatively new to thinking about impact beyond the academy and haven’t had much experience of trying to achieve it. It runs over a term and there are normally 3 programmes per academic year.