Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF)

Research enablers Research enablers

A programme to bring together emerging leaders in the global innovation community to contribute to social and economic development of their country through commercialisation and engineering-based innovation

UK FundersBEIS via Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng)
Funding programmeNewton Fund
Total UK investment£20.6M to date
Project dates2015-present
Countries of focusBrazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, The Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam
Model/approaches to RCSStand-alone through fellowships, training, mentoring, peer networks, alumni networking, learning and sharing events, community of practice
Find out moreLIF Technology Development Programme (raeng.org.uk)


The Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) programme is delivered under the UK’s Newton Fund by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) in partnership with in-country organisations. LIF supports researchers and academics turn ideas and research into products and helps them develop an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset. It provides access to high-quality skills training focused on commercialisation, a network of peers in-country, the UK and around the world, and a rich and varied experience with immediate and long-term benefits for their innovations. It is a year-long programme of bespoke support including:

  • Mentoring by experts  
  • High-quality entrepreneurship skills training by experts and professionals 
  • On-going support at the home institution 
  • Access to an international network of peer innovators and mentors, including RAEng’s broad network of engineers and innovators in the UK 
  • Access to resources, webinars and opportunities on the LIF online community hub 
  • In-country and regional events to amplify connections and relationships 


Skills development and sharing
  • Since 2014, over 1,100 LIF alumni have participated in the programme in all 17 Newton Fund partner countries and developed skills in entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialisation.
  • The LIF Community support programme recently expanded to include peer mentoring opportunities. 26 mentor-mentee pairs were made in the first year, with all participants receiving professional mentorship training.  
  • The LIF Online Community has enabled LIF participants, mentors, trainers, programme managers and in-country partners to network, create, learn, explore and innovate together online. 
New collaborative programmes
  • The LIF Advance programmex is open to LIF alumni worldwide to achieve their full commercial potential and equip them to grow their businesses. The first cohort in 2020 included alumni from 13 countries and the theme was disability inclusion and reducing inequalities in healthcare.
  • An independent auditor estimated that by 2030 the companies supported by LIF Advance had potential to generate £180 million in turnover, employ up to 160 people and improve the lives of 600 million people worldwide.
  • The LIF Community Grants programmexi supports LIF participants to build entrepreneurial networks in their local and regional contexts. In 2020, 16 LIF participants were awarded grants to implement community-building projects in Colombia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Turkey.  
Research productivity and economic impact
  • Over 2,500 jobs created by LIF participants’ companies.
  • A total of $90 million in further investment, grants and funding has been raised by LIF participants in support of their innovations.
  • 109 licensing deals have been secured.
  • Example of an impactful LIF fellow project: Aruna is now one of the leading integrated fisheries e-commerce platforms in Indonesia with over 15,000 users from over 15 locations, who have seen a 20% increase in their income.

Success factors and lessons learned

  • In-country partners have helped shaped the LIF programme to be more effective at supporting their entrepreneurs and local innovation ecosystems. They provide key insights and advice that increases the impact of the LIF programme locally, regionally and internationally.  
  • Although the LIF programme runs internationally, it has also had unique impacts within the UK. Participants and alumni form lasting partnerships with UK businesses, learn more about UK regulation, innovation and development, and create positive, long-lasting relationships with key members of the UK innovation ecosystem through their participation in the LIF mentoring programme.

Future vision

LIF will continue to build on relationships with in-country partners and UK innovation networks, helping to champion the value the programme and engineering entrepreneurship brings to local communities, UK national interests and sustainable development more broadly. In addition, LIF will continue to develop its community of 1,100 innovators as a self-sustaining peer to peer network that offers opportunities and support for LIF alumni to further their personal development and commercialisation journeys.