ESRC announces winners of its 2021 Celebrating Impact Prize

Group of people clapping hands in the theater.

Researchers whose work has made an outstanding difference to society and the economy were celebrated at ESRC’s annual Celebrating Impact Prize awards.

The competition, now in its ninth year, recognises and rewards the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded researchers who have achieved impact through:

  • exceptional research
  • knowledge exchange activities
  • collaborative partnerships
  • engagement with different communities.

Each winner was awarded a prize of £10,000 to promote the difference their work has made to people and organisations in the UK and in other countries.

Maximise the impact

The ESRC encourages and supports social scientists to maximise the impact of their work to ensure that independent, high-quality research informs decisions across a wide range of policy areas and helps make a difference to people’s lives in the UK and around the world.

For example, the impact has ranged from crucial support to families, businesses and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, to work that helps to bring the public’s voice to the fore in support of:

  • peace-building
  • health and wellbeing
  • the integration of vulnerable migrants into European and UK cities.

This year the panel also chose to award an additional Panel’s Choice award to recognise a finalist whose work shows great promise and is expected to reach its full impact in the future.

Making a difference

ESRC’s interim Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park, said:

Our competition recognises the UK’s world-leading economists and social scientists and highlights how their work makes a difference to people and organisations within the UK and across the world.

The winners of this year’s awards provide excellent examples of how the social sciences are proving vital in helping communities and businesses navigate key national and global challenges, including recovery from the pandemic.

It is also encouraging to see so many research teams feature, celebrating the vital role of collaboration and team-working within research.

Celebrating Impact Prize winners

The winners of the ESRC 2021 Celebrating Impact Prize are below.

Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact


Team application: Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CRÈME)
Lead applicant: Professor Monder Ram, Aston University

Entrepreneurial responses to the pandemic: supporting microbusinesses and promoting inclusion

Outstanding International Impact


Team application: Refugee Studies Centre
Lead applicant: Professor Alexander Betts, University of Oxford

Refugee-led social protection during COVID-19


Team application: COVID-19 Emergency Parenting Response Team
Lead applicant: Professor Lucie Cluver, University of Oxford

Outstanding Public Policy Impact


Team application: Professor Jenny Kitzinger and Professor Celia Kitzinger, Cardiff University

Changing the law to promote person-centred decision-making for ‘coma’ patients


Team application: Decision Maker Panel
Lead applicant: Professor Paul Mizen, University of Nottingham

Team application: Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity at COMPAS
Lead applicant: Dr Sarah Spencer, University of Oxford

Outstanding Societal Impact


Team application: Improbable Dialogues
Lead applicant: Dr Simon Rushton, University of Sheffield

Improving lives affected by violence in ‘post conflict’ Colombia through the participatory development of a local Strategy for Peace in Buenaventura

Outstanding Early Career Impact


Dr Rebecca Windemer, University of the West of England, previously Cardiff University

Influencing policy and debate on end-of-life considerations for onshore renewables


Dr Emily Marchant, Swansea University

Panel’s Choice

This was awarded by the panel in recognition of a finalist whose work shows great promise and is expected to reach its full impact in future.


Team application: COVID-19 Emergency Parenting Response Team
Lead applicant: Professor Lucie Cluver, University of Oxford

COVID-19 parenting emergency response: supporting 155.3 million families globally

Further information

Find out more about the 2021 Celebrating Impact Prize winners on the ESRC website.


Top image:  Credit: izusek, Getty Images

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