AHRC forward look: spring to summer 2023

Lower Antelope Canyon

The latest in a series of blogs from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) that will share upcoming opportunities with the community.

I’m delighted to write my first forward look blog post since joining AHRC.

It has been three months since I joined, and I am more aware than ever that there is still a tremendous amount to learn.

Notwithstanding that I want to thank everyone at AHRC and in our community for their support on that learning journey, for all the meetings you have invited me to, the time you have extended explaining your work and the warm welcome I have been afforded.

I am so impressed by the dedication, thoughtfulness and the level of personal investment both our staff and our community have in the success of your projects, the organisation and each other. I am looking forward to meeting more of our community in the coming months as we continue our engagement events across the country.

EDI action plan

Since the last of these blogs we have published our updated equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plan.

This underlines our staunch commitment to embed EDI at all levels of AHRC, in both our organisation and the research we support.

It is a living document which outlines our vision and what we are doing, and also our commitment to working with our community to identify new ways in which we can improve and catalyse change.

We know that there is much more work to be done, and we will do what is needed in support of the overarching UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) mission to foster a research and innovation system for everyone, by everyone.

Creative industries

Our recent visit to Belfast, as outlined in Christopher Smith’s blog, outlined the critical importance of the creative industries to the UK’s prosperity, wellbeing and resilience.

Following the success of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, demonstrator funding announced by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer during the Creative Coalition Festival will magnify the impact of the clusters and inform how we continue to support the sector.

March was a busy month for the creative industries as we also announced Newcastle and the Royal Society of Arts as the new hosts of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre.

Health and wellbeing

Last month also saw social prescribing day, which highlights the importance of connecting people to activities, groups and services in their community to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

To coincide with the day we launched the third phase of our mobilising community assets to tackle health inequalities programme, with the aim of creating healthier communities and environments across the UK.

Through this phase applicants can apply for funding to create and test collaborative models for the integration of cultural, community and natural environment assets into health and care systems.

We have many more funding opportunities live on our funding funder. Here are some selected funding opportunities but the full list is available on the funding finder:

Looking ahead

It is a time of major change for some of our programmes as we look to rebalance our portfolio and ensure that it is sustainable and best able to meet the needs of our community.

Responsive mode funding opportunities

To ensure that our funding schemes best align with the needs of our community, we are implementing major changes to our responsive mode funding opportunities.

The changes will provide greater flexibility in terms of the format and scale of projects.

Find out more about changes to AHRC responsive mode funding opportunities in 2023.

As part of this work an amended research grant scheme will reopen in June alongside follow-on funding for impact and engagement, which remains unchanged.

Two new awards

And ahead of this, later this month we will publish pre-announcements for two new awards.

Curiosity awards will provide flexible support for curiosity-driven research, while catalyst awards will accelerate the trajectory of researchers who don’t have prior experience of leading significant projects.

As outlined by Christopher Smith in a previous blog, we also continue to develop our plans for a revised postgraduate research offer to ensure that it is long-term and addresses skills shortages while reflecting the rising costs involved.

This work continues and we will provide a full update later in the summer.

Upcoming opportunities

We have lots of opportunities coming up in the next few months:


This programme is a collaboration with Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

It will commission a UK wide consortium to support the arts and culture sector in the UK to develop skills and knowledge in immersive content development, production and distribution.

The aim is to widen participation, readiness and adoption of creative technologies to strengthen the UK’s immersive storytelling industries.

Up to £6 million is available, over a three-year period. We are seeking to fund one consortium which must have a minimum of five eligible partners from across the UK working together to deliver the programme.

The funding opportunity has launched on the funding finder and closes on 13 July.

AHRC Centre for Law and Social Justice

In July we will launch a new funding opportunity to create a Centre for Law and Social Justice, investing up to £5 million full economic cost (FEC) over five years.

Our aim is for the centre to champion arts and humanities methodologies in law, strengthen and diversify the community of legal scholars, and deliver collaborative, challenge-led research across four broad themes:

  • trust
  • accountability
  • vulnerability
  • citizen’s rights

Applications are expected to be interdisciplinary and have a strong focus on support for all career stages.

Look out for this funding opportunity on the funding finder in July.

Gender based violence

This funding opportunity is to fund up to 12 combined networking and research grants, each up to £400,000 FEC and 36 months in duration. It will explore the ways in which social violence, specifically sex and gender-based violence manifests and can be addressed using arts and humanities-led interdisciplinary approaches. Projects will focus on working with partners and in contexts in low middle-income countries.

Applicants will be required to co-design sustainable, implementable and practical solutions with relevant local partners (including local authorities or government, or both, as appropriate), non-governmental organisations and community members.

The funding opportunity has launched on the funding finder and closes in late June.

Design Exchange Partnerships

Design Exchange Partnerships are three-way collaborative projects that bring researchers together with non-academic partners such as local councils and businesses to address the climate crisis, delivered as part of our Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme.

The theme for this round is biodiversity, and projects will focus on developing design-led solutions to address challenges relating to the loss, conservation, and regeneration of biodiversity in the UK.

Two types of projects will be supported: up to £50,000 for six months, or up to £100,000 for 12 months. The funding opportunity will open in late May 2023 and close in September.

Bridging Responsible AI Divides: demonstrator mapping projects

As part of our Bridging Responsible AI Divides (BRAID) programme, we will be inviting proposals for scoping and preparation work, including building cross-sectoral partnerships and mapping the barriers and opportunities relating to artificial intelligence (AI) development and use in different sectoral or application areas.

Between £150,000 to £250,000 will support each six-month project, with the primary output expected to be a series of mapping reports that define and evidence the benefits that could be realised by fuller, scaled-up demonstrator projects.

A pre-announcement will be issued in May, with the funding opportunity opening in late June or early July.

Innovation scholars

Following high demand for the first round of our Innovation Scholars secondments in architecture and design, AHRC has committed £1 million to the second round, aimed at developing skills and exchanging knowledge between academia and industry, public and third sector.

We will fund individual secondments focused on research and innovation. Secondments can be up to 36 months in duration and cost up to £200,000.

Look out for a pre-announcement of this funding opportunity on the funding finder in the summer. Applications will open in September 2023.

New Generation Thinkers 2024

New Generation Thinkers is one of our flagship career development schemes for early career researchers. We continue to support this scheme to develop engagement skills and help researchers get their work in front of the public and wider media.

Delivered in partnership with the BBC, we will be launching our 2024 funding opportunity in July 2023.

Information will be on the funding finder soon.

Keep up to date

To continue to be updated with the latest AHRC opportunities:


This content was accurate when the blog post was published on 12 May. If you are reading this after that date, some details may have changed.

Top image:  Credit: uschools, E+ via Getty Images

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.