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Follow-on Funding Pathfinder call

Copyright: Thinkstock

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 25 November 2015 - 22 May 2019

BBSRC has made the decision to cease BBSRC Follow-on Fund Pathfinder funding, with budget instead to be used to support additional high quality Standard and Super Follow-on Fund applications.

Following a review of BBSRC Follow-on Fund Pathfinders, there is limited evidence that previous Pathfinder support increases the quality of Standard and Super Follow-on Fund applications, with no significant increase in associated success rates of Standard and Super Follow-on Fund applications. The decision to cease Pathfinder support also takes in to account the modest scale of Pathfinder awards and the resourcing constraints within BBSRC.

Our new pathfinder scheme enables potential follow-on funding applicants to secure small amounts of funding to carry out preliminary commercial activities.

These activities will help to:

  • Develop a clearer understanding of the commercial potential of the outputs of a research grant
  • Assist with the development of a full follow-on funding application


To provide funding for commercial activities such as:

  • Commissioning expert advice from sector specialists on the best commercial development strategy for a business idea
  • Completing a market assessment to determine likely potential, competition and opportunities
  • IP searches – in particular freedom to operate (but not to support patent filing costs)
  • Development of contacts with potential licensees or other interested parties – this can help to develop an understanding of needs and requirements
  • Milestone 1 achievement – if the first milestone of the work is particularly risky and the success of the entire project depends upon this, funds can be sought to support this first milestone

These activities will strengthen a future application for full follow-on funding and be useful in targeting the commercialisation of the work.

Award size, duration and conditions

  • Applications will be in the region of £10-12k (FEC)
  • Maximum duration of 6 months
  • BBSRC funding is at 80% of FEC

You should discuss your application with your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent. The purpose of the application should reflect a considered view of the essential first steps to establish whether the work has commercialisation potential prior to submitting a full follow-on funding application.

In exceptional cases up to £25k can be requested for activities such as Milestone 1 achievement. This would need to be strongly justified by the TTO (or equivalent) statement of support and it should explain why they are unable to fund this work.


Open to eligible researchers in UK universities and Research Council institutes. Applications for follow-on funding pathfinder support must build on the outputs of recent or previous BBSRC-funded research activity.

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

Application is via the Je-S system using the case for support and guidance notes below.

Application downloads (for reference only)

Follow-on Funding Pathfinder: Guidance notes (PDF 142KB)

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Follow-on funding: Case for support (DOC 37KB)

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Applications will be assessed in Swindon Office using external expertise from the follow-on funding assessment committee.

A funding decision will be made within ten weeks of submission.

Case study: New Heritage Barley Ltd - reviving Victorian barley for modern brewing

Dr Sarah de Vos and Dr Chris Ridout at the John Innes Centre established start-up company New Heritage Barley Ltd to commercialise a heritage variety of barley called Chevallier, last grown in the UK in the 1930s, for beer production.

Copyright: John Innes Centre
Dr Chris Ridout with the Chevallier Barley. Copyright: The John Innes Centre.

BBSRC follow-on funding enabled the researchers to scale-up production of Chevallier, which the researches originally grew for a public engagement event from seeds held by the JIC Germplasm Resources Unit, to produce enough for global malt distributors Crisp Malting Group to conduct a trial malting. de Vos then established New Heritage Barley Ltd to commercialise and supply the heritage barley.

In 2015, UK Brewery The Cheshire Brewhouse produced the first commercial beer using Chevallier malt; a pale ale called Govinda ‘Chevallier Edition’.

Chevallier is also resistant to Fusarium, a costly fungal disease of barley. The JIC researchers are working with colleagues in the USA and Canada to develop Fusarium-resistant barley varieties that can be grown on the humid East Coast of America, where Fusarium is a major problem.

Read more: The craft of beer - reviving old barley for modern brewers.

Related calls: commercialisation innovation skills and training