Economic and Social Research Council awards Essex new round of funding to boost research impact

  • Date

    Thu 31 Jan 19

Business people talking

The University of Essex has been awarded significant funds from a scheme designed to help social scientists collaborate with businesses and policymakers.

The Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) are block awards made to research organisations by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) with the aim of speeding up the impact of research.

In 2014 Essex received funding under the first wave of IAAs and will now receive a further £950,000 over four years under the second wave, IAA2, following a competitive and peer reviewed selection process. 

This investment from the ESRC will enable us to further support the process of transforming our research into deep and lasting real world impact...." 
Professor John Preston deputy dean (research), faculty of social sciences

Deputy Dean of Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Principal Investigator for IAA2, Professor John Preston, said: “Our success in IAA2 is a significant achievement in an increasingly competitive process in which only 26 organisations received funding, and is testament to the way in which we have utilised our funds from the first wave of IAAs.

“This investment from the ESRC will enable us to further support the process of transforming our research into deep and lasting real world impact and developing solid partnerships between academics, businesses, government and communities.

“The funding will enable a variety of strategic initiatives to take place including extending our highly successful ‘challenge lab’ activities, in which academics work with industry and other sectors on real world problems, to focus on Industrial Strategy and Global Challenges priorities.”

With the first round of IAA funding Essex supported projects which have helped reduce the likelihood of repeat care proceedings among vulnerable families in the east of England; introduced the benefits of psychodynamic therapy to GPs, commissioners, and patients; and deployed innovative drone technology to enhance the performance of regional solar farms, among many other outputs.

Hundreds of practitioners, policy-makers, and members of the public have attended Essex events and conferences, and participated in workshops.

Professor Preston continues: “In the Essex spirit of innovation, we will now launch an IAA impact academy to develop a new generation of academics who are ready to engage with the business and societal challenges of the future. We will also develop a toolkit to enable researchers to truly assess the impact of their 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.”

The Essex award is part of £27m of funding announced by the ESRC for IAA2. The funds have been distributed between 26 research organisations across the UK and will run from 1 April 2019.