ESRC Impact Acceleration Accounts
From summer 2014, the ESRC will be providing funding for knowledge exchange activities through Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs). IAAs are block awards made to Research Organisations to accelerate the impact of research. Tried and tested by the ESRC and other Research Councils, IAAs allow Research Organisations to respond to knowledge exchange opportunities in more flexible, responsive and creative ways than centrally administered schemes.
The ESRC has successfully piloted IAAs with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester and the roll-out of the ESRC IAAs builds on the lessons learned from these initial awards.
The IAA funding will be used flexibly and rapidly to support the following key areas:
- Building relationships and networks with potential users of research to facilitate co-production of knowledge and maximise impact
- Movement and secondment of people between Research Organisations and user stakeholders
- Support for researchers to build networks with potential users of the products of their research, and further work to establish ‘proof of concept’ for their innovations
- Drive culture change in Research Organisations to promote knowledge exchange and improve related skill sets and capabilities
- Improve engagement with the public sector, civil society, industry (including SMEs, local business and the Technology Strategy Board) and publics.
The support from IAAs will enable Research Organisations to provide funding for knowledge exchange (KE) activities in ways that best suit their institutional strategies and opportunities. This funding is complementary to other routes of funding, such as Pathways to Impact, which will remain the primary mechanism through which we expect opportunities for KE and impact from our research to be funded.
Allocation of IAA funds is based on the size of Research Organisations’ ESRC recent research funding history. Those institutions which have been provisionally allocated IAAs will be required to submit business plans in order to release these funds. A specially convened panel will review the business plans to ensure they are of sufficient quality.
Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Scheme
The current Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Scheme closed on 31 March 2014. There has been falling demand for the Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Scheme in recent years and a relaxing of co-funding rules and the expansion of the scheme to allow co-produced research has not led to an increase in the number of applications. IAAs offer a more effective mechanism for supporting knowledge exchange and bringing about social science impact on practice and policy.