Review of strategic priorities

Our Delivery Plan 2011-2015 sharpened the focus of the research we fund around three priorities:

These priorities encapsulate the big issues for Britain, the wider world and for social science that we identified, and guide our work towards maximising the impact from existing research, resources and training investments.

We recently completed our annual review of progress under each of our three strategic priorities. The review shows that we have made good progress in addressing many of the key themes under each of the priorities through the 2011/12 Centres and Large Grants competition and other research initiatives. We have also extended the infrastructure that supports research and increased capacity for new research through our Doctoral Training Centres.

While new centres and grants have started others have come to an end, meaning we need to fill emerging gaps whilst also responding flexibly to new research areas identified through discussions with the social science community in the UK and with funding agencies overseas.

Through this review and discussions we have identified a number of areas under each of the current three strategic priorities where we intend to fund research activities over the next 24 months.

The areas are:

  • Business innovation
  • Financial markets
  • Green economy
  • Cities
  • Epigenetics
  • Educational neuroscience
  • Innovation in health and social care
  • Civil society
  • The new dynamics of work
  • The future of the UK in Europe
  • Higher education
  • Big Data

The activities we fund in these areas may take the form of new research initiatives, involve the creation of new data resources or research capacity through studentship funding, or may focus on exploiting an existing body of recently completed ESRC research through knowledge exchange activities.

We will be working over the next six months to determine where we should focus our efforts to complement existing research activities and to maximise the value of our funding, particularly through working with other national and international funding partners.