University of Edinburgh ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award

The University of Edinburgh is delighted to have been awarded a third round of Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) totalling £1.25 million over the period 2023-2028. This builds on successful awards from two previous rounds.

“The ESRC IAA is an important mechanism for the University of Edinburgh (UoE) to maximise the real-world impact of our research, helping us tackle urgent societal and economic challenges. It will support us in realising UoE’s Strategy 2030, deepening and extending our culture of knowledge exchange and impact, whilst ensuring organisations and partners in the public, private and third sector as well as members of the public have the opportunity to benefit from our research.”

Professor Christina Boswell ESRC IAA Institutional Lead at the University of Edinburgh and Vice-Principal Research and Enterprise


The IAA is managed by the Edinburgh Research Office’s Research Engagement & Impact Team and includes a range of activities including responsive mode funding schemes:

  • Projects – a bi-annual call to support academic/researcher collaboration with third sector, private sector and/or public sector organisations
  • Rapid response – a rolling call for projects that address urgent challenges
  • Placements – a rolling call to cement relationships and support exchange of knowledge between organisations and academics/researchers
  • Events/roundtables – to facilitate connections and opportunities for collaboration between internal and external stakeholders
  • Seed funding – to enable development of strategic partnerships
  • Festival of Social Science – an annual festival celebration of research and knowledge about humans and society, open to everyone 


The funding will support engagement with a range of external audiences and partners, across a variety of academic disciplines and areas of interest, and particularly where there is potential for sustained impact.


One such area is commercialisation of social science research, which is driven by the University’s commercialisation arm, Edinburgh Innovations: “With this funding investment, we will facilitate industry collaborations and support development of business models for research based products and services, further enabling the University to make a sustained contribution to society and the economy.” – Aileen Appleyard, Head of College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science Account Team, Edinburgh Innovations (EI)


Another area of high potential involves engaging with policymakers: “We are part of the Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN) and the Scottish Policy & Research Exchange (SPRE) and have developed strong relationships with the UK Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit, contacts in devolved legislatures and the Scottish Government. This third round of ESRC IAA funding will support deepening of existing relationships, brokering of new relationships and provide additional opportunities for researchers to engage with policy at local, national and international levels.” – Dr Anne Sofie Laegran, Head of Research Impact, Edinburgh Research Office (ERO)


The renewed ESRC IAA will also enable the University to build stronger internal relationships while at the same time collaborating with industry, governments and communities to build a challenge-led, data-rich portfolio of activity that has demonstrable ethical, social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts. This is the purpose of the Edinburgh Futures Institute at UoE. “The IAA funding will continue to benefit communities in Edinburgh and the region as well as in other areas within the UK and internationally, as we seek to jointly address major societal challenges.” Professor Chris Speed, Former Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI)


The successful delivery of ESRC IAA activities calls for cross-university collaboration. The Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team in ERO look forward to working with colleagues in EI, EFI, professional services staff across the university, as well as with academics, researchers and external stakeholders to maximise the opportunities through the ESRC IAA to make a difference with our social science based research.


For information about our activities and how to participate, please get in touch:

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For guidance and advice on knowledge exchange and impact, as well as funding, including ESRC IAA, and other opportunities for development, please visit our Engagement for Impact Hub.

Engagement for Impact Hub (UoE staff login required)