Funding boost for social science research at UCL

09 Mar 2023 | Network Updates | Update from University College London
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As part of the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) programme, run by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UCL will receive £1.25m over five years, the maximum amount possible to be awarded.

A total of 32 research organisations have received IAA funding, which will allow institutions to apply their social sciences knowledge to society’s greatest challenges, particularly those outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as poverty and inequality.

Dr Kathryn Walsh, Executive Director, UCL Innovation & Enterprise, said: “This award is testament to the strength of research and innovation here at UCL. The investment will support critical early-stage translation of UK social science research to real impacts, transforming public services, creating new jobs, attracting private investment and forging new partnerships with business and charities.”

UCL’s ESRC-funded research can be loosely grouped into eight themes: equality, housing, early years education, developing healthy workplaces, health and wellbeing, communication, community resilience and adopting new technologies.

In the social sciences field, UCL’s research spans all of the 17 UN SDGs. Research here is concentrated across four faculties – The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, Population Health Sciences, Social & Historical Sciences and the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education & Society.

These faculties are collectively home to over 2,400 academics and researchers. UCL has held £116m in ESRC research grants over the last five years and currently holds a portfolio of £76m in active grants across 31 departments. The IAA funding will provide an opportunity to realise the impact of this research.

Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) said: “This award is the result of a strong collaborative and consultative approach across UCL. It will enable us to develop and implement a dedicated programme of activities to maximise our impact on society’s biggest problems through our knowledge exchange activity, collaborations and partnerships and public engagement. The fact that we received the maximum amount possible for an individual institution highlights our comprehensive and wide-ranging impact on society.”

Organisations which have received the funding will also participate in the ESRC’s annual UK-wide Festival of Social Science.

Professor Alison Park, ESRC Interim Executive Chair said: “The social, behavioural and economic research we fund helps us understand how we live and how society functions, throwing new light on how best to tackle our most pressing challenges. This investment creates a network of research organisations with dedicated funding to support and accelerate the impact of this research.

“We have already seen the benefits of previous rounds of IAA funding, which have leveraged an extra £52m from partners ranging from local government to private business. This new cohort of 32 research organisations in receipt of IAA funding is the largest and most diverse group ESRC has funded. I look forward to seeing how these investments maximise the impact of social science research.”

This article was first published on 7 March by UCL.

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