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The ESRC Impact Acceleration Account provides flexible funding options designed to enhance the impact of Cambridge social science research.

The Impact Acceleration Account supports:

  1. Activities to broaden the experience of engagement with business, NGOs and the public and third sectors. This can cover deepening and strengthening relationships with existing contacts as well as establishing new contacts.

  2. Engagement with public, private and third sector organisations through secondments.

  3. Development and promotion of new engagement methods to help promote best practice across social science knowledge areas.

  4. Short projects to define routes to impact, liaising with partners and finding the resources to enhance impact activities.

Here are our current funding calls:

1. Impact Funding

2. Follow-on Fund

3. Discretionary Fund

4. Knowledge Exchange Workshop and Dialogue Fund

5. Local Fellowship Scheme

6. POST Academic Parliamentary Fellowships

7. Innovation Fellowships

8. NGO Data Call

1. Impact Funding

The Impact Fund provides flexible funding for impact projects in social science disciplines, where impact activities could not have been foreseen or from newly emerging insights in social science research and collaborations.

Projects ranging in value from £10,000 to £20,000 will be supported. Projects should be completed within 12 months of the award of the grant, though most projects are shorter. Bids for testing experimental or innovative approaches are welcome. 

Awards will be made available to fund work which will significantly increase the probability of the ideas and findings generated by research having an impact on the private, public and third sectors. The awards are not for the continuation of research. Applications should therefore focus on the development of impact activities and outputs and not on research.

The Impact Fund grants can be used to support staff on the project, consumables, travel etc. Only direct costs are eligible. The funds cannot be used to support students or to cover PI time.

Call deadlines for 2017-18

This call is currently closed.

All projects must be completed by 31st March 2019.

Please find the ESRC IAA guidance document and application form below:

ESRC IAA Guidance for Applicants                                  

ESRC IAA Project Application Form

Reporting requirements.

The following reports must be submitted at the fol

lowing milestones. Specific dates will be agreed by the IAA Co-ordinator.

Interim Report

Half way through the project

This is just a short update via email reporting against the project’s current status

Final Report

At the completion of the project

This is a longer report which details the impact achieved and any in-kind or additional funding leveraged

Update Report

Six months after the end of the project

This report records any ongoing social, cultural or economic impact produced after the completion of the project.


2. Follow-on Fund

This fund is designed to support ongoing impact from projects which have previously received ESRC IAA funding. Applicants must be able to demonstrate how the project will continue to deliver impact and add value to external stakeholders. There is an upper limit of £5,000 to this fund, and applicants must have submitted a final report for the original project in order to be eligible.

Call deadlines for 2017-18

This call is currently closed.

All projects must be completed by 31st March 2019

ESRC IAA Follow-on Fund Application Form


3. Discretionary Fund

This fund is available to fund tactical opportunities in short time scales, which require a quick response, envisioned to influence governmental, national or international debate. This could include, but is not limited to, activities such as select committee attendance, workshop organisation, or the creation of short-term impact projects. 

Applications to this scheme are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed within 10 working days.

ESRC IAA Discretionary Fund Application Form


4. Knowledge Exchange Workshop and Dialogue Fund

This fund supports Knowledge Exchange activities, such as workshops and ‘dialogue’ events.

Intensive one-day workshops for researchers and non-academic stakeholders enable researchers to develop skills in stakeholder engagement and to identify opportunities for future collaboration.  Workshops can be held with business, local government and other public or third sector organisations. To date, the ESRC IAA has held workshops with the International Red Cross, UNESCO, World Bank, Save the Children and ARM. The upper limit for workshop applications is £2,000.

This fund can also be used to support interactive Knowledge Exchange meetings or ‘Dialogue’ events with external stakeholders (such as policymakers, practitioners, professionals and users) that can demonstrate the potential to lead to further collaboration. These proposals should also demonstrate a potential to accelerate impact arising from social science research. The upper limit for KE Dialogue projects is £1,000.

Applications to this scheme are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed within 10 working days.

ESRC IAA KE Dialogue Application Form


5. Local Fellowship Scheme

The Local Fellowship Scheme is run on behalf of the ESRC IAA by the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP).  Fellows from local private, public or third sector organisations will be provided with customised contact programmes to meet key academics and research groups of interest to their field of work. This will allow Fellows to develop contacts and explore collaborative opportunities within the University. The Fellowships could lead to projects funded by the Impact Fund, opportunities for student projects, internships, research collaborations or other knowledge exchange activity.

Please contact CSaP directly for further information on this scheme.


6. POST Academic Parliamentary Fellowships

The UK Parliament is piloting an Academic Fellowship Scheme in partnership with ESRC IAAs to offer academic researchers at any career stage the opportunity to work on specific projects from inside Westminster. Further information is available here.


7. Innovation Fellowships

The aim of this call is to provide funding for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to take up short term fellowships in industry in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy. This is part of ESRC’s investment in ECRs funded through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) as part of the government’s investment in research talent. Secondments can build on research already undertaken, expand existing RO relationships to include social science or help scope new areas of partnerships/research with business.

The choice of research topic is left open. Applications should show:

  • a clear mechanism to support outward Early Career Researcher (ECR) secondment(s) to industry in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy (secondments can be with existing or new partners)
  • evidence of how the secondment(s) will address an industry need; or the process for selecting a secondment will ensure industry need is met
  • evidence that the secondment(s) activity will be focussed on knowledge exchange and  bringing business/industry and ECRs together 
  • evidence that the secondment will enable further ECR’s skills development in a non-academic setting.


  • Activities must be based at least 50% within the social sciences. 
  • No primary research will be eligible under this funding.
  • Proposals should not duplicate work already funded by ESRC or other funders.

Call deadlines for 2017-18

This call is currently closed.

Innovation Fellowships application form (Must be accompanied by a support letter from the Department that will host the project.)

8. NGO Data call

The University has been awarded £30,000 by ESRC to explore opportunities for data reuse within Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) and implementation agencies that operate in an Official Development Assistance (ODA) context.  Potentially valuable data on developing countries are held by NGOs, though much of it is currently unavailable or unknown to researchers. This IAA additional funding stream will enable existing partnerships or the development of new partnerships with NGOs/agencies operating in an ODA context, to discover the extent and quality of the data being held and what potential there is for developing further research projects or realizing the impacts from this data that benefit low and middle income countries.

Projects are required to address either or both of the following objectives:

  • building relationships with NGOs working in international development to explore the potential of secondary NGO data; and/or
  • increasing the impact of NGO data through secondary data analysis.

The maximum funding request per project is £10,000.  Projects must be ODA compliant.  Funding must be spent by 31 March 2019.

Please use the NGO Data Application Form and email to Applications to this scheme are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed within 10 working days.


Further information

If you would like further information about any of the above funding opportunities or you have an idea for an activity that enhances impact of social sciences research at the University that doesn’t seem to fit into any of these headings, please contact the ESRC IAA Co-ordinator at