Funding boost to help social scientists collaborate with businesses, policymakers and civil society


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Lancaster University is part of a £27 million investment to strengthen research impact at universities across the UK announced today by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The investment enables research organisations to develop flexible, creative and tailored approaches to increase the social and economic impact of science.

Known as ‘Impact Acceleration Accounts’ the funding builds on previous success to fund innovative and sustainable approaches to knowledge exchange at 26 research organisations across the UK.

Over the next four years, the fund will help social scientists collaborate with businesses, policymakers and civil society, creating new opportunities for research to make a positive contribution to society and the economy and speed up the impact of research.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of ESRC said: “This next generation of IAA funding will enable research organisations to build the capacity, capability and opportunity for social scientists to play their part in ensuring the UK’s world leading research is brought to bear on the pressing social and economic challenges and opportunities we face.”

Lancaster University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Stephen Decent said: “Lancaster has seen excellent results from investing in impact and engaging with business and policy in ways which are truly changing the world. This investment from ESRC, providing dedicated support for our social scientists, will enable more of our pioneering work in fields such as linguistics, law, child protection, education and the digital humanities, to make the leap from research paper to society. We are delighted to be part of that important mission with ESRC for the first time.”

IAAs are block awards made to research organisations to speed up the impact of research. Research organisations can make decisions about how to invest their IAA funding based on their individual needs and strategies, responding flexibly and creatively to opportunities for social scientists and potential research users to collaborate and share knowledge. ESRC IAAs create opportunities for the social sciences to work with other disciplines and proactively engage across their institution to build networks and leverage funding vital for sustainability of knowledge exchange and impact.

Building on a first round of ESRC IAAs, these 26 new awards continue to focus on building capacity, skills and culture around knowledge exchange within research organisations, as well as strengthening engagement opportunities with research users, including at an early stage and in innovative ways. IAAs are also intended to enable organisations to focus on longer term sustainability of knowledge exchange and impact support, and to help improve plans for supporting impact included within new research projects.

Following a competitive, peer-reviewed process open to invited research organisations that receive substantial levels of research investment from the ESRC, 26 research organisations from across the UK have been awarded IAA funding, which will commence from 1 April 2019. This includes six research organisations that have not previously held ESRC IAA funds.

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