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Impact Acceleration Awards

Madeleine Beveridge, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Coordinator highlights ESRC Impact Acceleration funding and an information event on 28 February for University of Edinburgh colleagues.

About ESRC Impact Acceleration

In Spring 2019, the University of Edinburgh received another £1+ million from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to continue our Impact Acceleration Account (IAA). The IAA is designed to embed impact in and from social science research.

This funding allows us to develop a programme of work designed to:

  • build researcher capacity and confidence;
  • develop purposeful partnerships with industry, third sector, and public sector organisations;
  • provide flexible funding and opportunities for researchers to develop impact from their work.

We run various funding schemes, support placements with external organisations, and bring together communities of interest around challenges faced by a range of sectors (e.g. social care, food systems, construction, or tourism).

2020 Impact Acceleration funding – key dates

On 27 February we’ll open the next call for Impact Acceleration Awards. This scheme offers up to £20,000 to work together with a partner (non-academic) organisation(s) to develop impact from social science research.

  • Deadline for expressions of interest to reach us is 31 March.
  • Deadline for full applications to reach us is 30 April.

(School deadlines may be earlier – please check well in advance with your school research office).

Read the full scheme guidelines and application materials (UoE staff access only).

All full applications are reviewed by our panel, which includes social science researchers and external stakeholders. Shortlisted applications will be invited to a pitch-to-peer session (early June 2020), where they present and discuss their project to the panel and other applicants.

The Expression of Interest date allows us to check that applications are suitable for the call, which has a few specific requirements. If you’re unsure whether your project is eligible, please contact us to discuss.

We’re holding an informal information session to provide an overview of the scheme, offer an academics’ perspective, and answer your questions. Find out more and sign up here.

Award criteria

Please check the full guidance before applying. Below is a bit more detail on some of the key points:

Researchers must co-apply with an external partner(s) – partners could be local or international; a small SME or a multinational business; private, third, or public sector. Successful applicants have worked with everyone from Edinburgh City Council to London-based finance start-ups to Amnesty International. But they have to be non-academic. You’re welcome to name researchers from other HEIs as co-applicants, but they can’t receive funding from this scheme.

The partner organisation must match the funding applied for – in cash or kind. In-kind contributions could include staff hours worked on the project, the cost of office space or equipment, or the cost of producing materials or resources used to develop impact. If you’re unsure about eligible costs, contact us to discuss. Note that this scheme cannot cover academic staff time.

The project must be focussed on impact, not primary research. We can’t fund research projects, however good they are, and however much potential for impact there might be in a few years’ time. The scheme is designed specifically to help researchers and partners accelerate impact from research right now. You can cost for a project assistant, and where justified, this role can involve an element of data collection, but this must be in order to support immediate impact. You can’t hire an RA to carry out primary research on this scheme.

The partnership must be already developed. We are looking for projects where there is a clear “pull” from a partner organisation(s), who are committed to applying your research in their (non-academic) context. If you’re at an earlier stage, such as exploring potential partnerships, we’d encourage you to speak to your local impact specialist (this could be someone at school or college level – ask your local research office who this is). There may be other internal funding available for these activities (e.g. school impact funding, CAHSS KE and impact award).

Wider support for knowledge exchange and impact activities.

The project must have a clear link to underpinning research in (mostly) social science. We recognise that the journey from research to impact is not always linear, so if you have completed the research but it’s not yet published, or if you’re working on research at the same time as developing impact, then you should still apply – as long as there is a link to specific research findings, and clear demand from non-academic partner(s). If you have academic collaborators in other fields (e.g. medicine, humanities), then you should still apply – as long as the majority of the research involved is from the social sciences.

Previous projects

We work with all University of Edinburgh social science researchers, even if you’re not based in a traditional social science school or unit. In 2019, we funded 10 projects from 7 different schools. We would love to add yours to this list – contact us or get started on the expression of interest.

Funded projects from 2019:

  • Working with African researchers and policy makers to enhance the inclusion of small firms in Tanzanian agro-processing and food production – Hazel Gray; Social and Political Sciences
  • Working with the Barbican Centre and UK arts organisations to reduce social exclusion in the creative sector – Orian Brook & Dave O’Brien; Edinburgh College of Art
  • Working with Chinese social media platform to implement a new content recommendation system with consumer profiling – Tong Wang; Business School
  • Working with Edinburgh City Council to develop CPD for teachers on literacy, physical activity and embodied cognition – Josie Booth, Sarah McGeown & Zayba Ghazali-Mohammed; Moray House School of Education & Sport
  • Working with Indian NGO to trial a new form of credit lending to local farmers – Liang Bai; School of Economics
  • Working with Indonesian NGOs and women in gold mining areas to increase community involvement in policy discussions around land use – Sam Spiegel; School of Social & Political Science
  • Working with Scottish-based human rights organisations to explore how to incorporate international human rights into Scottish law – Kasey McCall-Smith; School of Law
  • Working with Scottish SPCA to develop animal cruelty prevention training and resources for practitioners and police – Joanne Williams; School of Health in Social Science
  • Working with UK fintech start-up to allow non-bank lenders to find a better way of stress-testing and assessing credit risk – Galina Andreeva; Business School
  • Working with UK and International funding councils to adopt a new governance framework for emerging technologies – Robert Smith, Zara Thoko Kamwendo & Jane Calvert; School of Social & Political Science

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Madeleine Beveridge


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