Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Arts and humanities-led research commercialisation: round two

Start application

Apply for funding to increase support for research commercialisation across the arts and humanities.

Applications can:

  • follow on from any previously UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded research in the last 24 months
  • be from any discipline but must significantly involve the arts and humanities

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £50,000. AHRC will fund 80% of the FEC.

Projects can have a maximum duration of six months.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

The project should primarily be led by the original project lead of the research that the application builds upon.

Another member of the original research team may lead the project if the nature of the proposed activity makes it more appropriate. In such cases the original project lead would be expected to be named as project co-lead or included in an advisory capacity separate to the core team. This would need to be justified in the application.

We allow international researchers to act as project co-leads and project partners in the application.

Applications must:

  • be based on either previous or current research directly funded by UKRI in the last 24 months (except research conducted under masters, doctoral or collaborative doctoral, and knowledge transfer partnerships) or funded under UKRI-supported schemes such as the Humanities in the European Research Area joint research programme
  • involve significant engagement with arts and humanities research or approaches of relevance to AHRC’s remit
  • involve the application of arts and humanities research or research methodologies to a commercial challenge (such as product design, the creation or development of a social enterprise or spin-out company, consultative support of a non-academic commercial partner or similar activity)
  • support innovative pathways to commercial opportunities that have not already been taken account of in the original award. Applications need to demonstrate how the new pathways to commercial impact opportunities will enhance the value and wider benefit of the original UKRI-funded research project with clear relevance to AHRC’s remit
  • exploit creative and innovative ideas rather than repeating, continuing or extending existing activities or conducting new research
  • be focused on non-academic audiences and relevant user communities. You should show how you engage with potential users and stakeholders throughout the project

We welcome applications from individuals working in any disciplines, including those whose home discipline is outside of AHRC’s usual remit. However, applications must bring clear arts and humanities research expertise, and draw on arts and humanities research concepts, methods, practices, ideas or approaches in the development of the proposed activities.

International applicants

International researchers are permitted to participate as Project Co-Leads. See sections two and three of the AHRC research funding guide for full details on eligibility of researchers, organisations and costs.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Aim

The aim of this funding opportunity is to develop research commercialisation activities that create sustainable social, cultural, economic or environmental impacts using arts and humanities methodologies.

Scope

This funding opportunity seeks to encourage innovative applications for enhancing inclusive engagement with research funded by UKRI through the application of arts and humanities-led methodologies in a commercial context. We are looking to build a portfolio of research commercialisation activities involving a wide variety of collaborations across a diverse range of stakeholders and partners including public, private and third sector organisations, the general public, and community groups. The outcomes and impacts of this funding opportunity will influence the development of future AHRC commercialisation programmes.

AHRC welcomes applications that cut across discipline boundaries, including those applications that work beyond individual research council remits. Where applications extend beyond AHRC’s subject remit, the application must ensure it brings clear arts and humanities research expertise, and draw on arts and humanities research concepts, methods, practices, ideas or approaches in the development of the proposed activities.

Applications focusing on supporting knowledge exchange with cultural, creative and heritage organisations (such as museums, galleries, libraries, archives, performance groups etc.) and in supporting educational and learning outcomes within societies, are within scope. Applications focused on wider non-academic groups in the public, private, and non-academic sectors are also within scope. Applications primarily focused on academic dissemination (for example, conferences, events, or translation of academic outputs, teaching or training in higher education, academic exchanges, research resources or facilities or similar activities) are not within scope for this funding.

Activities may be undertaken anywhere globally, working with partners from any country, including diaspora, refugee, displaced, and stateless populations. While there are no geographical priorities, AHRC aims to support a diverse portfolio of Follow-on Fund projects working in different contexts on diverse topics.

Examples of areas within scope are:

  • providing expert consultative support to a partner organisation (including public, private and third sector organisations) by applying arts and humanities-led research outcomes and methodologies from the original project to:
    • help design a new product, service or tool
    • to embed more sustainable and effective business practices
    • engage more effectively with their client base
    • address any other commercial challenges
  • establishing or supporting the development of social enterprise in order to address an issue or opportunity highlighted by the original research through the application of arts and humanities approaches. This could include the provision of expert analysis, needs assessments and evidencing using methodologies developed during the original project
  • supporting the scaling-up of a concept demonstrated in a specific context during the original project into a more widely applicable tool, service, or product that can be applied by or in collaboration with similar organisations
  • the creation of a spin-out company to optimise an opportunity highlighted in the original project in order to generate revenue to sustain further research in this area
  • creating a proof of concept based on the original research in order to support the licensing of a product, or the development of a future spin-out company

The above are illustrative examples of the types of research engagement and impact activities that could fall within the scope of this funding rather than an exhaustive list. Other applications seeking to advance the impact of arts and humanities research (including the interdisciplinary research with a significant arts and humanities component) in addressing commercial challenges or opportunities are also welcomed.

Please note that, in line with the overall remit of AHRC’s Follow-on-Funding (FoF) scheme, this funding opportunity will only fund applications seeking to enhance the value and wider benefit of the original funded project. It is not intended to support entirely new research. However, applications may include an element of research or data collection to ensure the original research better addresses user needs and to understand, track, evidence or capture the value or impact generated from the proposed impact activities, including issues around the sustainability and distribution of benefits (for example, in terms of gender, equalities, diversity and inclusion).

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the ‘Additional information’ section.

Duration

The duration of this award is a maximum of six months.

Projects must start by 1 September 2024.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £50,000.

AHRC will fund 80% of the FEC.

Costs associated with project co-lead internationals will be funded at 100% FEC but must not exceed 30% of the total FEC of the project. Please refer to sections two and three of the AHRC research funding guide for details on eligibility of such costs.

What we will fund

The activities supported by applications under this highlight notice can include:

  • activities enabling commercial knowledge exchange
  • activities enhancing self-sustaining commercial impact from UKRI research
  • activities aiding the development of commercial products through applied arts and humanities research or methodologies
  • activities that build upon commercial knowledge exchange and pathways to commercial impact already undertaken. You must demonstrate clear added value to activities already undertaken
  • building the evidence base on research impacts in order to support the scalability, transferability, inclusivity, sustainability or longevity of benefits from research in a commercial environment
  • feasibility studies to test the potential application of ideas emerging from the research in different commercial contexts

What we will not fund

This funding will not cover applications that:

  • seek support for principally academic outputs (such as an academic paper, conference or a publication)
  • do not include a commercial element and collaboration with commercial project partners
  • do not use arts and humanities-led methodologies to build upon research funded by UKRI and do not include significant commercial research impact activities within the remit of AHRC

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

Deadline

AHRC must receive your application by 10 April 2024 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to this funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

AHRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 500

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Eligibility to apply for opportunity

Word limit: 250

How, regarding the rules on the previous funded research, do you feel this new work is eligible for follow-on funding?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You should ensure that you demonstrate that this new work will:

  • support innovative pathways to commercial opportunities that have not already been taken account of in the original award. Applications need to demonstrate how the new pathways to commercial impact opportunities will enhance the value and wider benefit of the original UKRI-funded research project with clear relevance to AHRC’s remit
  • exploit creative and innovative ideas rather than repeating, continuing or extending existing activities or conducting new research
  • be focused towards non-academic audiences and relevant user communities
  • engage with potential users and stakeholders throughout the project

Additionally, you should:

  • identify the UKRI funded research that this new work will build upon, including the application reference

Opportunity and market analysis

Word limit: 1,000

What is the opportunity you are looking to exploit or what challenge will your project address?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • has the potential to address a business need, technological challenge, or exploit a market opportunity
  • could lead to the development or deployment of a new or improved product, service, or technology
  • is timely given current trends and context
  • meets the needs of potential users or customers
  • is resilient to changing external circumstances and consumer behaviours
  • impacts society, the economy or the environment

Within this section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Route to market

Word limit: 1,000

How would you deploy your project or innovation in its intended users or markets?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • includes plans for the innovation to reach its intended market or users
  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • includes any commercial milestones
  • is feasible and is supported by technical, research or scientific evidence
  • comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology, including a business model
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • identifies any support required post-award to deliver the solution such as access to other networks or further funding
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, innovation environment (in terms of the place, its location, reputation, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Intellectual property (IP) management and communication

Word limit: 1,000

What is your IP exploitation plan?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of your plans to:

  • manage the outputs of the project, including any intellectual assets and intellectual property
  • have freedom to operate
  • protect the foreground IP or market position
  • disseminate and communicate the outputs of your project
  • access potential future investments, if required

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

The word count for this section is 1,500 words: 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and Project Co-Leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

As a minimum, all named members of the leadership team should be discussed within this section of the form.

If references or citations are deemed appropriate, these should be included within the section’s word limit. We would advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application. If you are linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible. You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see UKRI’s new roles in funding applications.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters or emails of support

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the ‘Project partner’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter N/A. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • be no more than two sides of A4 per partner

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

If you are collecting or using data, you should identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies taken to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which study will be compliant

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’. For example, costs associated with project co-lead internationals

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

AHRC does not provide funding for individual items of equipment over £10,000. Please see section three of the AHRC research funding guide for further information.

Additionally, where relevant you should explain:

  • support for any project partners organisations

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

AHRC eligibility criteria

At the point of application submission, each will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • all applicants and named staff must be eligible under the funding opportunity requirements
  • the application must meet the aims and criteria of the funding opportunity
  • applications which do not meet these criteria will be rejected with feedback on why it could not proceed

Your application will be considered by a separate assessment panel drawn from AHRC’s Peer Review College, along with other assessors who have expertise relevant to the focus of this programme.

Applications will be reviewed directly by the panel, and the project lead will not be offered a response.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Opportunity and market analysis
  • Route to market
  • Intellectual property (IP) management and communication
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • Resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility, content or remit of a funding opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your application please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact ketc@ahrc.ukri.org

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and funding opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the Funding Service helpdesk on support@funding-service.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

Much of the world-leading research supported through universities and AHRC has the potential to support governments, communities, individuals, businesses, and public service delivery organisations both in the UK and globally. Arts and humanities research generates an in-depth understanding of local conditions and issues to reveal actionable solutions as well as creating new methods of engaging with the contemporary challenges we face. The knowledge and skills of arts and humanities researchers provides considerable opportunities to develop and enhance commercial products and services that can have a significant and wide-reaching impact on society and the environment, as well as promoting sustainable economic growth.

Commercialisation can provide a route to make research more sustainable, providing researchers with an opportunity to develop their work in a longer-term context and to a broader audience, beyond the cycle of repeatedly renewing funding applications. Commercial partnerships can provide an outstanding platform for knowledge exchange, with academics exchanging and creating insights with businesses, public and third sector partners, as well as their commercial audiences. Research commercialisation is a key component of demonstrating impact and achieving high ratings in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF).

Despite this valuable connection between arts and humanities research and commercialisation, UKRI analysis has shown that opportunities and engagement in research commercialisation for arts, humanities, and social science (AHSS)-led research sits far behind those of natural sciences, technology and engineering disciplines. There are multiple reasons for this disparity, including:

  • a lack of both initial seed funding opportunities and long-term funding needed to fully develop spin-out enterprises
  • language barriers between academics and commercial partners (both in terms of foreign languages and nuanced sectoral communication), preventing effective communication with mutual benefits
  • a cultural view of commercialisation amongst many AHSS researchers as purely profit-driven or too far removed from academia
  • too few opportunities for academics (particularly early career researchers), to develop hybrid commercial skills

This funding opportunity acts as part of a range of new mechanisms and funding opportunities to address these barriers. Critically, the outcomes of these projects will help to evidence and refine AHRC’s approach to funding, supporting and assessing commercialisation research and activities.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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