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Follow-on Funding Pathfinder

Follow-on funding

Interested in funding? Go to the Follow-on Funding Pathfinder call page (in Funding section).

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

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.

Application deadline: 22 May 2019, 16:00 BST

BBSRC sustains a high quality research base that supports innovation in important UK business sectors including agriculture, food and drink, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, chemicals and biotechnology. Discovery and production activities in these industries depend on scientific advances in the academic community.

BBSRC’s Follow-on Fund Pathfinder scheme is designed to support the translation of fundamental research funded by the Council into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research.


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.

Providing support

Pathfinder funding is a preliminary step that allows researchers to understand the potential route to application of their research outcomes and assists with the development of a full Follow-on Fund application. Any proposal must follow on from, and have a substantial link to, previous or current BBSRC funded research.

As the pathfinder fund is just a first step in the commercialisation process the maximum duration of the award is 6 months and the level of funding available is £10-12k (FEC) for a piece of market-related work.

BBSRC funding is at 80% FEC.

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.