How to commercialise your research - ESRC



Commercialisation of social science

There is considerable potential to use the knowledge and skills created by social science research to develop commercial products and services. UK Research and Innovation defines commercialisation as the process by which new or improved technologies, products, processes and services are brought to market. Researchers interested in exploring this need an intent and mindset to understand how they might be able to progress along the technical and commercial readiness pathways. This includes understanding who the customer is, how the customer will access the output and what longer term sustainability or the business model will look like. Research organisations often offer support to help in this process via a technology transfer officer or business engagement professional.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) wants to enable the social science research base to develop commercial product and services as one option available to deliver sustained social and economic impact.

Value of social science commercialisation and social value returns

Much of the world-leading research supported through universities and ESRC has the potential to support governments, individuals, businesses, communities and public service delivery organisations – in the UK and globally. By providing the data and evidence economic and social science research generates an in-depth understanding of local conditions and issues to reveal actionable solutions.

To help support this emerging area, we are working with the Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop and fund new opportunities to support sustainable impact and innovations for social, environmental, cultural or economic impact through commercialisation routes. We are also looking at ways that commercialisation can be a route which to generate increased revenue to support research, translation and knowledge exchange activities independently of research organisations and grant funding.

We are working across the UK to establish new communities which draw on the strengths of the UK commercialisation base to expand into this area, ensuring we have a world leading, robust ecosystem to sustain arts, humanities and social science-led innovation and enterprise.

This toolkit outlines the different ways and gives examples of how the arts, humanities and social science research can be commercialised and offers an in-depth look at how sustained social impact can be developed.

Commercialisation case studies

See researchers’ own experiences of commercialising research in our case studies:

Last updated: 24 January 2024

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.