UCL awarded £6.5M funding to translate research into global impact

16 Jun 2022 | Network Updates | Update from University College London
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The university has secured £6.5m of a total £118m distributed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of its Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) programme, second only to the University of Oxford.

Awarded to 64 universities and research organisations, IAA investment supports critical early-stage translation of UK research to real impacts, transforming public services, creating new jobs, attracting private investment and forging new partnerships with business and charities.

The UKRI institutional awards are distributed through the UK’s network of research councils: the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC); Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Kathryn Walsh, Executive Director, UCL Innovation & Enterprise, said: "This funding is testament to the breadth of UCL research and innovation, which is enabling the brightest and most disruptive ideas to emerge in the UK and worldwide. It will mean UCL can continue to support academics to unlock the value of their work, whether it is early-stage commercialisation of new technologies or advancing changes to public policy.”

The IAA programme, now in its tenth year, has provided early-stage support to projects that are now established global businesses.

These include UCL spinouts Bramble Energy, a hydrogen fuel cell technology company helping the world towards a Net Zero carbon future, Orchard Therapeutics, a biotechnology company dedicated to transforming the lives of patients with rare disorders through innovative gene therapies, and the UCL-based Global Disability Innovation Hub, a research and practice centre driving disability innovation in more than 35 countries.

This year is the first that AHRC has participated in the programme, supporting both culture change as well as the early-stage engagement with cultural organisations and businesses that underpins impact from Arts and Humanities research.

Recent UCL collaborations have included the Slade School of Fine Art working with the Coal Authority to develop a range of paints from waste generated by de-commissioned coal mines.

Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement) said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and are immensely grateful to the staff and academics who worked together on UCL’s applications. Universities play a vital role in delivering impact to societies and economies through research and innovation partnerships, and the fact that UCL received funding from the full set of awarding bodies highlights our comprehensive approach to making a difference.”

The £118m IAA investment over three years focuses on maximising impact, knowledge exchange, translation, and commercialisation potential within research organisations.

Its model empowers research organisations themselves to use the funding creatively and responsively to react to emerging opportunities.

UKRI Director of Commercialisation, Tony Soteriou, said: “The UK is home to some of the brightest, most innovative and creative research teams in the world.  They have the ideas and they have the entrepreneurial energy to create businesses and services that could turn sectors on their head.

“What they need, what every great commercial idea needs, is support in the critical early stages. The Impact Acceleration Account is the catalyst that allows projects to grow to the next level, attracting investment, forging partnerships and creating jobs.”

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser added: "Research and innovation has the potential to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, rejuvenating communities across the UK and tackling global challenges. It is imperative that we harness that potential.

“The path between discovery and impact is not simple and so it is vital that we provide flexible support that allows talented people and teams, and world-class institutions to connect discovery to prosperity and public good.”

This article was first published on 15 June by UCL.

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