Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Opportunity: arts and humanities-led research commercialisation

Apply for funding as part of AHRC’s first dedicated commercialisation opportunity as part of our commitment to increase support for research commercialisation across the arts and humanities.

Proposals 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

Successful applicants will influence the development of future AHRC commercialisation programmes.

AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost of the project, which can be up to £50,000, with a maximum duration of 1 year.

Who can apply

Individual eligibility

To apply for this funding opportunity, you must be at an eligible research organisation. This is any UK higher education institution that receives grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies, or a UKRI-recognised research institute or organisation. See funding guide section.

Standard AHRC eligibility criteria apply to this funding opportunity, please see AHRC’s research funding guide section 2 for further information on eligibility.

The project should primarily be led by the original principal investigator of the research that the proposal 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 principal investigator would be expected to be named as co-investigator or at least as an advisor. This would need to be justified in the case for support.

We allow international researchers to act as co-investigators and project partners in the proposal.


Proposals 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. Proposals 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 proposals 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.

What we're looking for

Purpose and objectives

The activities supported by grants 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

Ineligible activities

This highlight notice 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

Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL)

AHRC will work with the funded projects from the outset to develop a light-touch monitoring and evaluation framework. Aligning with AHRC’s MEL strategy, AHRC and the funded projects will co-design a suite of ways to identify benefits and impact, and embed learning to help develop future commercialisation programmes within the arts and humanities. You are encouraged to consider how learning can be captured within the project.

Project collaborators

We welcome proposals with co-investigators and project partners from both UK and overseas.

You should seek contributions from project partners (for example, business, government and third sector organisations) where appropriate. In acknowledgement of the fact that some smaller third-sector organisations do not have the capacity to co-fund research activities, costs to support partners from third sector organisations (for example, non-governmental organisations) are eligible under this opportunity. Cases may be considered where the research impact activities require additional work by partners that fall outside their normal activities. A full case for any exceptions should be made in the justification for resources.

Total costs associated with third sector bodies’ contribution should not normally exceed 30% of the overall cost of the grant at 100% full economic cost (FEC).


A maximum of £50,000 will be available to support each award for a maximum 12 months. The awards must start 1 September 2023.

Applications should be costed in accordance with normal FEC rules. AHRC will contribute 80% of the costs, and the remaining balance must be guaranteed by the principle investigator’s research organisation.

Eligible costs

The nature of the scheme means that only the following costs can be requested.

Staff costs

Salary costs of the principal investigator and any co-investigators. These should be recorded under directed allocated (DA) staff.

Salary costs of other staff such as research assistants or technical support in addition to the applicant themselves are eligible and should be listed under DA staff.

Other directly incurred costs

Costs of other items dedicated to the project, including consumables, books, survey fees, purchase or hire of vehicles, publication costs or recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project. Items of equipment costing less than £10,000 should also be included under this heading. Salary costs for international co-investigators, when eligible, should be included in your Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) application using the ‘Exception’ option.

Directly incurred travel and subsistence costs

Funds for travel and subsistence, for use by staff who work on the project. Costs should be costed in accordance with the rules of the applicant’s employing institution.

Exceptions costs

These are directly incurred costs that research councils will fund in full (that is at 100%), for example costs incurred by the international co-investigator, including salary, where applicable.

Indirect and estates costs

Please note the following costs are not eligible for this opportunity:

  • project students
  • non-specialist computers
  • contingency costs

Further detailed guidance on costs is set out in AHRC’s research funding guide.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 25 April 2023 at 4:00pm UK time and will need to go through the appropriate institution submission process prior to this.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

To apply, your organisation must be registered for Je-S, and you must hold a Je-S account. Where this doesn’t already exist, it can be easily set up, but please note that it can take a number of days, so it is strongly recommended that the process be started well before the application deadline. Je-S accounts can be created on the Je-S site.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Je-S help text is available in every page of your Je-S form, simply click on the question mark against any section (or on the word ‘Help’ in the top right hand corner of each page).

To prepare a proposal form in Je-S, log in to your account and choose ‘documents’ from the menu, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: ‘AHRC’
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement
  • call, type or mode: AHRC Commercialisation FoF 25th April 2023

Je-S will then create a proposal form, displaying the relevant section headings. A red and white cross indicates that the section is compulsory. Using the blue question marks and the ‘Help’ link at the top of each section will provide guidance relevant to that section of the form.

Important: where information and guidance issued in this document differs from the general guidance offered in these sources, you should adhere to the guidance in this document. Where general guidance is specified, please use the follow-on funding section of the funding guide.

Important: please ensure the previous funded grant reference that this application follows on from, is listed on the application form under related proposals.


As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted, unless it is indicated they are optional. General guidance on attachments is provided in AHRC’s research funding guide, please follow guidance relevant the follow-on fund applications. Any guidance specific to this opportunity is provided below and takes precedence.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

The following are mandatory Je-S attachments for this opportunity:

  • case for support (maximum 7 sides of A4). For this opportunity, you must include a paragraph at the start of the case for support explaining how your proposal meets the aims and focus of this highlight notice
  • justification of resources (maximum 2 sides of A4)
  • data management plan (maximum 2 sides of A4)
  • CVs and list of publications (maximum 2 sides of A4 per named staff)

How we will assess your application

Assessment criteria

Your applications submitted to this opportunity will be assessed according to standard follow-on fund scheme criteria alongside the other criteria set out in this specification.

As this opportunity is at the fore of research commercialisation within the arts and humanities, we will use a set of high-level themes to assess your proposal alongside the standard AHRC follow-on fund criteria. These themes are applicable to all areas of UKRI research and help create a common language for researchers considering commercialisation of their research.

The themes should also help shape your proposal and can serve as a useful tool to help you identify the right steps to commercialise your research. Much of this information will be captured in your attachments, but it may help to consider using the language outlined and highlight these points in your case for support.

Theme 1: opportunity and market analysis

You need to highlight:

  • the problem and solution (essential)
  • the product or service and the market fit (essential)
  • the product or service and company fit (optional)

You will already be capturing much of this in your case for support.

Theme 2: project deliverables, costs and resources including the team

This section addresses the specific project deliverables (including supporting information such as a Gantt chart or project plan), the costs required and the resources necessary to the deliver the proposed work successfully.

You will already be capturing much of this in your justification of resources and workplan.

Theme 3: intellectual property (IP) management and dissemination of project outcomes

This section aims to describe how the outputs of the projects including any intellectual assets and intellectual property either protected by specific IP rights or not will be managed and what strategies will be developed to ensure good management of project outputs and outcomes including access to potential future investments required.

You will already be capturing much of this in your data management plan.

Theme 4: route to market

This section should describe how you will move your idea, innovation or output of the original project to the intended market, target audience, or end users.

Theme 5: environmental, social and ethical considerations, and wider impact

This theme is for applicants to consider and describe the wider implications of their project or innovation, and how their project might address wider environmental, societal, and ethical issues including equality, diversity and inclusion.

You will likely be capturing much of this in your case for support.

Assessment process

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

The panel meeting will be held in June 2023.

Your application will be assessed directly at the panel meeting.

There will be no separate peer-review or principal investigator response stage for applications under this funding opportunity.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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

Ask about this funding opportunity

Knowledge exchange, translation and commercialisation team


Include ‘Commercialisation Highlight Notice’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within 6 working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

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Additional info

This highlight notice is a first ambitious step in a range of new mechanisms and funding opportunities to stimulate research and innovation across the arts and humanities research and commercialisation.

Its 3 key aims are to:

  • create a diverse portfolio of research commercialisation projects to evidence the potential of arts and humanities-led research commercialisation
  • demonstrate and refine a model for identifying, funding, and capturing the impact of these projects to help develop a clearer understanding of the common language around what effective research commercialisation in the arts and humanities looks like
  • provide opportunities for arts and humanities researchers to develop necessary hybrid skills to collaborate effectively with commercial partners

Critically, the outcomes of these projects will help to evidence and refine AHRC’s approach to funding, supporting and assessing research commercialisation as we move towards our strategic goal of committing 10% of our core budget on knowledge exchange, translation, and commercialisation activities by the end of the current government spending review period.

Supporting documents

Opportunity guidance document (PDF, 228KB)

AHRC research funding guide

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