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Upcoming knowledge exchange and impact funding opportunities in Arts, Humanities, and Social Science

In today’s blog, Dr Madeleine Beveridge, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Coordinator in Edinburgh Research office, outlines some upcoming funding opportunities to help develop your knowledge exchange and impact plans.

What is knowledge exchange and impact?

Knowledge exchange (KE) is a process which brings together academic staff with research users and wider groups outside academia, in order to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise. Knowledge exchange activities are things that you do (e.g. workshops) or create (e.g. policy briefings). Successful KE activities are often done in partnership with another organisation, or in response to demand from interested parties including industry (from multinationals to social enterprise), policy (from national governments to local authorities), and civil society (including charities, community groups, and professional associations).

Impact is the change that occurs (at least in part) because of these activities – for example, changes in attitudes or practice which “bring benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life” (Research England definition for Research Excellence Framework). We can’t guarantee when or whether your research will have impact outside academia, but high quality KE with relevant stakeholders can maximise the chances of your work resulting in impactful change.

Funding to support knowledge exchange and impact (KEI)

The University has specific funding available to support researchers in developing knowledge exchange with a clear pathway to non-academic impact. For researchers in arts, humanities and social science, the main schemes are:

  • School specific scheme: some schools have designated funds to support early stage KEI.
  • CAHSS Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grants: £2-3k or exceptionally £5k; timelines below.
  • ESRC Impact Acceleration Grants: Up to £20k; timelines below.
  • ESRC Impact Acceleration placement scheme: Up to £12k; open deadline.

2021 KEI funding – key dates

We will shortly be launching the Spring 2021 calls for the CAHSS Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant, and ESRC Impact Acceleration Grants.

We are running an information event and Q&A about both schemes for researchers on 25 February:

There will be a separate Q & A event for staff in School Research Offices on 4 March:

Timeline for CAHSS Knowledge Exchange & Impact Grants

  • 15 February: Call opens.
  • 15 April: Deadline full applications (School deadlines will be earlier).
  • Week commencing 10 May: Decisions from panel.

Timeline for ESRC Impact Acceleration Grants

  • 25 February: Call opens.
  • 1 April: Deadline expressions of interest (Eligibility check; early submissions welcome).
  • 6 May: Deadline full applications (School deadlines will be earlier).
  • Week commencing 31 May: Pitch to peer session for shortlisted applicants.
  • Week commencing 7 June: Decisions from panel.

Award criteria

Please check the full guidance before applying to either scheme. Below are some key points; for any questions, please contact us or attend the relevant information event and Q&A.


Projects must be focussed on Knowledge Exchange activities designed to maximise impact, not on primary research.

You cannot cost for academic staff time on either scheme. You can cost for a project assistant or freelancer, to support the knowledge exchange activities (not to carry out primary research). All posts must be approved and costed by your School in advance of submitting full application.

All projects must have a clear link to underpinning research. For CAHSS KEI this can be research in any CAHSS subject area. For ESRC IAA this must be social science research (including from Units outwith CAHSS e.g. Usher institute, Geosciences). 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.

Additional criteria for ESRC Impact Acceleration Grants:

This scheme is designed to support projects where the partnership with the external organisation(s) is more developed; the partner’s commitment is recognised in the following additional criteria.

  • 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 Chinese social media companies and Amnesty International.
  • The partner organisation must match the funding applied for– in cash or kind. In-kind contributions could include staff hours worked on the project, or the cost of producing materials or resources used to develop impact.

Further information and resources

The Knowledge Exchange and Impact team are part of Edinburgh Research Office. We support researchers to develop meaningful impact from their research through brokering relationships, advising on external applications, and offering internal funding. We also provide training and resources to help build capacity for knowledge exchange across the University.

Developing a knowledge exchange and impact plan (UoE staff only).

Doing research and knowledge exchange during physical distancing (UoE staff only).

First steps to engaging with policy makers (UoE staff only).

More knowledge exchange and impact funding opportunities.

Your School Research Office may also be able to offer advice and funding to support knowledge exchange and impact. They will also need to cost and approve all applications to the schemes outlined above, so please make sure you contact them if considering an application.

If you’re unsure about eligibility, or would like to discuss your application, please contact (CAHSS KEI grant) or (ESRC Impact Acceleration grant). And don’t forget the information event and Q&A for researchers on 25 February.

We’re looking forward to seeing your applications!

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Madeleine Beveridge



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