Improve and accelerate the impact of your organisation’s research

Apply for funding to help your organisation’s research have an impact.

This funding opportunity combines these impact acceleration account (IAA) programmes:

  • AHRC IAA
  • BBSRC IAA
  • EPSRC IAA
  • STFC IAA
  • MRC Confidence in Concept.

Your organisation must be eligible for funding from the relevant council. To be eligible to apply for EPSRC funding, your organisation must have been invited.

You are applying on behalf of your whole organisation and you will decide where to invest the funding. Your organisation can use the funding creatively for a wide range of impact activities.

Funding will start in April 2022. It will last for three years.

Who can apply

Institutional level leads can apply for IAA funding. Your organisation must be eligible for UKRI funding generally.

Find out who can apply for funding.

UKRI councils inviting applications for IAA funding are:

  • AHRC – by open competition
  • BBSRC – by open competition
  • EPSRC – invite only
  • MRC – by open competition
  • STFC – by open competition.

See the list of EPSRC eligible organisations (PDF, 108KB). Each of these organisations have been contacted by EPSRC directly with allocation information.

Current Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) IAA award holders do not need to apply as their funding ends March 2023.

MRC continues to support applications from consortia.

The participating councils will now support the best opportunities for impact irrespective of how the original research was funded.

Where open competition applies, each research organisation will need to demonstrate a significant research base in the research councils’ remit areas in order to be competitive.

What we're looking for

Apply for institutional funding to unlock the impact of your organisation’s research.

Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) are strategic awards provided to research organisations to allow them to respond to impact opportunities in more flexible, responsive and creative ways.

Responsibility for management of IAAs is devolved to the research organisation, to design and deliver activities that best suit their institutional strategies and opportunities. The awards are intended to add value to existing funding and take advantage of new or unforeseen opportunities to facilitate the realisation of impact.

Funding available

A range of different award sizes are available by council as described below:

  • AHRC: £150,000 per year
  • BBSRC: indicative £100,000 per year, anticipate 15 awards
  • EPSRC: specific allocations to eligible institutions, as detailed in invite letter
  • STFC: £50,000 per year
  • MRC: £130,000 to £800,000 per year.

Some councils may propose funding uplifts to the amounts applied for where applicants demonstrate particular strengths and where budgets allow.

Strategic aims

You must use your IAA funding to:

  • strengthen engagement with users in order to accelerate the translation of research outputs into impacts
  • support, develop and foster strategic partnerships for knowledge exchange and impact, including across disciplines and sectors
  • build and maintain an environment and culture that enables effective and ambitious knowledge exchange and impact, including development of skills, capacity and capability within research organisations
  • provide early-stage support for progressing research outputs towards the next stages in the impact pipeline, for example:
    • proof of concept projects
    • commercialisation
    • market validation
    • activities targeting policy, business and the third sectors
  • drive continuous improvement in impact by supporting innovation, enabling ‘fast failure’, and capturing learning through appropriate mechanisms
  • enable flexible and adaptive approaches to knowledge exchange and impact, including the ability to respond quickly to emerging opportunities.

Harmonisation of IAAs

For the first time, UKRI has brought together IAA funding from the participating councils and harmonised the application and award timelines and processes. Where appropriate, UKRI is encouraging research organisations to take advantage of the strategic opportunities afforded by alignment of IAA awards across disciplines.

This may include opportunities to fund impact or translational activities across discipline boundaries, running parallel internal calls, expanding culture change or training activities, or sharing common impact and translational mechanisms. Research organisations will be asked to explain their approach to harmonisation within the application (see “How to apply”).

However, UKRI recognises that opportunities for alignment may not always be obvious or accessible for all research organisations depending on discipline strengths or award outcomes (see “Assessment”). Applications will not be disadvantaged for not being able to support multiple council IAAs.

Institutional level application coordination

We are seeking institutional level applications that support knowledge exchange, user, policy and third sector engagement, translation and early-stage commercialisation.

Applications must be coordinated at an institutional level.

You need to demonstrate the value of IAAs to your whole institution’s strategy and maximise opportunities to bring together approaches.

However, IAAs should also retain sensitivity to the needs of different research and innovation communities.

Activities and costs

IAA funding can be used to support a wide range of activities that fall within the IAA strategic aims described above, including engaging users and forging strategic partnerships; building internal capability and culture; or progressing commercial opportunities – whatever best fits the strategic aims and opportunities of your research organisation.

A full description of the activities and costs that IAA funding supports can be found in the permitted activities and costs document (PDF, 120KB).

Equality, diversity and inclusion, and responsible innovation

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our vision to deliver new knowledge and an enriched, healthier, more sustainable and resilient society and culture, and to contribute to a prosperous economy.

Responsible innovation is also an integral part of our vision and we expect applicants to consider the benefits, but also potential impacts from their activities.

Details of your institutional approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, and responsible innovation are requested in the application.

How to apply

Please complete one application on behalf of your organisation.

You should apply using the application template (DOCX, 80KB).

The application template is in two sections. The first section is a harmonised, institutional section covering research organisation strategy and aspects of leadership and management. Please complete this once for the whole of your organisation.

The second section asks for council specific information. Use the template on page two for AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC or STFC applications and use the template on page three for MRC applications.

Please complete these additional sections for each participating council you are applying to for funding (dependent on eligibility, as above).

Each research organisation should submit a single application email with separate pdf documents for the harmonised institutional section and for each UKRI council being applied to. Completed application emails will therefore comprise at least two separate pdf documents (for institutions applying to one council only), with institutions applying to multiple Councils including three to six.

Applications must be emailed to iaas@ukri.org by 16:00 on 6 October 2021.

Applications received after this deadline will not be processed.

Additional guidance

There are three guidance documents to help you complete your application:

The first is the guidance covering the institutional section of the application and applies to all applicants. The second is guidance specific for any AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC or STFC applications. The third is guidance specific for MRC applications.

Please ensure you refer to the guidance documents when writing your application, taking note of the page limits set for each section and for each council.

How we will assess your application

Each council applied to will utilise a sector-specific panel and assess against the criteria listed below. The panels will be made up of academics, knowledge exchange professionals and research users and will be specifically convened by each of the councils awarding funding. Each council panel will assess the applications in the context of the UKRI-wide harmonised, institutional section.

Given the difference in budgets available, there will be two approaches to assessment for awarding this IAA funding.

AHRC, BBSRC, MRC and STFC will utilise the assessment criteria to prioritise applications for funding.

EPSRC has invited specific institutions to apply, based on their sector-specific research portfolio. They will not be subject to competition, but if there are substantial issues with any parts of the application EPSRC will engage with the university to ensure those issues are addressed through a revised version. In such cases, funding will only be released once an acceptable revision has been received.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • quality and appropriateness of approach
  • use of existing resources, strengths and relationships
  • engagement and stakeholder management
  • effective management
  • delivering and demonstrating impact.

Further details can be found in the assessment criteria documents:

Funding decisions

Applications will be assessed independently by each participating council and each participating council retains its responsibility for funding decisions. Individual council funding decisions will not be affected by the outcomes of the other councils’ assessments. Opportunities for alignment between council IAAs will be assessed as appropriate, but applications will not be disadvantaged by not being able to support multiple IAAs.

Therefore, applicants should note that it will be possible to receive funding from one, some or all of the councils applied to.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: iaas@ukri.org.

If your query is about a particular council’s approach, please specify the council in the subject header.

Additional info

UKRI has taken the opportunity to harmonise IAA funding across councils, including in this first instance AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, STFC and the MRC Confidence in Concept programme.

Through harmonisation, UKRI is seeking to better enable the generation of impact through alignment of timelines and processes, including award duration and monitoring, to allow organisations to improve strategic planning for developing research impact across and between disciplines.

This will help research organisations have an impact within academia and beyond, by:

  • reducing bureaucracy
  • supporting the best opportunities for impact, irrespective of how the original research was funded
  • standardising award duration, to allow recipient organisations to improve strategic planning for developing research impact.

As part of the ongoing commitment to strengthen IAAs, we will continue to seek opportunities to reduce bureaucracy and make further improvements beyond this initial funding opportunity, including introducing combined, single reporting across all IAAs.

Supporting documents

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