ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize

The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize is an annual opportunity to recognise and reward researchers supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) who have created or enabled outstanding impact.

We celebrate social science researchers at all career stages whose actions have supported changes in practice, thinking or capacity that create a positive impact in our society, economy and in our lives, in the UK and internationally.

The prize is open to current and previous ESRC-supported researchers, including doctoral students.

The finalists in all categories will have a film professionally made about their work and impact, and winners are awarded £10,000 to spend on:

  • further knowledge exchange
  • public engagement
  • other impact-related activities.

Winners are announced at a high-profile awards ceremony.

Prize categories

The call for applications for our 2022 opportunity is now closed.

There are six prize categories in 2022:

  • outstanding business and enterprise impact
  • outstanding public policy impact
  • outstanding societal impact
  • outstanding international impact
  • outstanding early career impact
  • the John Hills Impact Prize 2022.

Read the:

Guidance

Full details about the 2022 prize, eligibility, assessment criteria, categories and terms and conditions are provided in the application guidelines.

Read the application guidelines (PDF, 244KB) and frequently asked questions (PDF, 127KB).

Previous winners and finalists

The Celebrating Impact Prize has been running since 2013. The previous winners and finalists are outlined below.

Read some of the research outcomes and impact stories.

Impact Prize 2021

See our:

Winners

Outstanding business and enterprise impact

Winner: Professor Monder Ram, Aston University

Team application: Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) with Dr Imelda McCarthy, Aston University

Project: Entrepreneurial responses to the pandemic: supporting microbusinesses and promoting inclusion

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Productivity from Below is an ESRC-funded collaboration between researchers, businesses and civil society partners. It has enhanced productivity among ethnic minority microbusinesses, ensuring they accessed the right funding and support during the pandemic.

It has helped organisations secure a combined value of over £3 million of funding to support more than 1,000 female and migrant entrepreneurs. Organisations included:

  • Ashley Community Housing
  • Punch Records
  • Citizens UK.

Outstanding international impact

Winner: Professor Alexander Betts, University of Oxford

Team application: Refugee Studies Centre with Evan Easton-Calabria, University of Oxford and Kate Pincock, University of Oxford

Project: Refugee-led social protection during COVID-19

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Researchers have drawn international attention to the key role played by refugee-led organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has prompted a rapid change in global policy, new funding of over $50 million, and the provision of vital assistance to more than 100,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.

Outstanding public policy impact

Winner: Professor Jenny Kitzinger and Professor Celia Kitzinger, Cardiff University

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

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research has led to changes in the law in England and Wales on life-sustaining treatments, improving person-centred decision-making. This has benefited over 68,000 patients in prolonged coma, vegetative or minimally conscious states, as well as their families and friends.

It has also resulted in new guidance for health professionals on protecting all patients’ dignity and best interests.

Outstanding societal impact

Winner: Dr Simon Rushton, University of Sheffield

Team application: This project was funded in partnership between ESRC and Minciencias through the Newton Fund. The Improbable Dialogues team includes:

  • Dr Juan Mario Díaz, University of Sheffield
  • Adriel Ruiz Galván, Javeriana University and CORMEPAZ, Colombia
  • Professor Jefferson Jaramillo Marín, Javeriana University, Colombia
  • Dr Melanie Lombard, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Juan Miguel Kanai, University of Sheffield
  • Daniela Mosquera Camacho, Javeriana University, Colombia
  • Dr Paula Ospina Saavedra, Javeriana University, Colombia
  • Johana Paola Torres, Javeriana University, Colombia
  • Jhon Erick Caicedo, Office of Communication and Community Development, Alcaldía Buenaventura, Colombia
  • María José Ruiz, CORMEPAZ, Colombia.

Project: Improving lives affected by violence in ‘post conflict’ Colombia through the participatory development of a local strategy for peace in Buenaventura

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

An international ESRC and Minciencias Newton-funded collaborative research partnership has prompted a new city-wide peace strategy in the violence-affected Colombian port of Buenaventura. It has led to a skills-based training programme that enables communities to engage in conflict resolution at the grassroots level.

Outstanding early career impact

Winner: Dr Rebecca Windemer, Cardiff University, now at University of the West of England

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

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research into the 25-year planning consents that regulate the UK’s onshore wind and solar farms has led to policy change in Wales.

It has also led to greater guidance for local authorities and the wind industry on end-of-life considerations for onshore renewable energy infrastructure. It has increased community awareness of the potential to influence the future of local wind and solar sites.

Panel’s choice

Winner: Professor Lucie Cluver, University of Oxford

Team application: COVID-19 Emergency Parenting Response team with:

  • Dr Jamie Lachman, University of Oxford
  • Dr Franziska Meinck, University of Edinburgh
  • Janina Steinert, University of Goettingen and University of Oxford
  • Professor Lorraine Sherr MBE, University College London
  • Dr Inge Wessels, University of Oxford
  • Dr Ohad Green, University of Oxford
  • Isang Awah, University of Oxford.

Project: COVID-19 Parenting Emergency Response: supporting 155.3 million families globally

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers brought together an emergency collaboration of:

  • United Nations agencies
  • non-governmental organisations
  • governments
  • volunteers.

This was to adapt and deliver evidence-based child abuse prevention and positive parenting resources. These have reduced violence against children and helped tens of millions of families cope with the challenges of COVID-19.

Finalists

Outstanding public policy impact

Finalist: Professor Paul Mizen, University of Nottingham

Team application: Decision maker panel with:

  • Nick Bloom, Stanford University
  • Phil Bunn, Bank of England
  • Julia Leather, University of Nottingham
  • Gregory Thwaites, University of Nottingham.

Project: How decision maker panel data informed Brexit and COVID-19 policy

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Near real-time data on UK business activity and uncertainty provided since 2016 by the pioneering decision maker panel survey has helped shape UK government and Bank of England policy decisions. Decisions were made in response to the economic shocks caused by COVID-19 and Brexit.

Outstanding public policy impact

Finalist: Dr Sarah Spencer, University of Oxford

Team application: Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) with Jacqueline Broadhead, Nicola Delvino and Denis Kierans. All team members are from COMPAS and the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) at the University of Oxford.

Project: Supporting European and UK cities to integrate newcomers and vulnerable migrants

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

A unique city-focused programme has brought over 60 UK and other European cities together to share best practice on inclusion and service provision. This is to the benefit of their whole local communities, prompting local, national and EU initiatives to protect vulnerable migrants and crime victims.

Outstanding early career impact

Finalist: Dr Emily Marchant, Swansea University

Project: HAPPEN Wales: developing a national-scale primary school health and attainment research network and school health network to improve pupil health and wellbeing

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research has expanded a primary school health and wellbeing network across Wales, developing new tools such as a survey for pupils to share their perspectives on health and wellbeing.

This has helped more than 250 schools to design the health and wellbeing component of the new curriculum for Wales (2022), tailored to their pupils’ needs, and to adopt evidence-based initiatives such as outdoor learning.

Impact Prize 2020

Winners

Outstanding societal impact

Winner: Professor Yvonne Jewkes, University of Bath

Project: Redesigning prisons to foster rehabilitation and hope

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research into the impact of penal architecture on prisoners and prison staff has changed thinking on custodial design and led to investment in more progressive and innovative prisons in:

  • the UK
  • the Republic of Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand.

Outstanding business and enterprise impact

Winner: Professor Arjan Verschoor and Professor Ben D’Exelle, University of East Anglia

Project: Designing insurance to give smallholders a safe way out of poverty

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research into how Uganda’s three million smallholder farmers perceive risk led to the development of a new drought insurance scheme, subsidised by the Ugandan government.

The scheme now protects more than 225,000 smallholder farmers against the risks to their livelihoods posed by drought, pests and poor quality seed. It also boosts productivity by providing smallholders with the confidence to invest in their farms.

Outstanding international impact

Winner: Ending the Reading Wars

Team application:

  • Professor Kathy Rastle, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Professor Kate Nation, University of Oxford
  • Professor Anne Castles, Macquarie University.

Project: Employing the science of reading to improve literacy worldwide

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research outlining the science behind how children learn to read is transforming the way reading is taught in classrooms around the world. It is helping potentially millions of children improve their life chances through better literacy skills.

Outstanding public policy impact

Winner: ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

Team application:

  • Professor Jane Falkingham
  • Professor Maria Evandrou
  • Professor Ann Berrington
  • Professor Jakub Bijak
  • Professor Corrado Giulietti
  • Professor Peter Smith
  • Professor Athina Vlachantoni
  • Professor Jackline Wahba
  • Teresa McGowan
  • Becki Dey.

Project: Improving data: strengthening the evidence base for policy

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

The ESRC Centre for Population Change, through collaboration with the Office for National Statistics, has improved the accuracy of current and future population estimates for the UK. This provides policymakers, planners and businesses with better evidence on which to build policy and plan public services as well as accurate data for business decisions.

Panel’s choice

Winner: Emla Fitzsimons and Praveetha Patalay, UCL

Project: Adolescent mental health: improving young people’s lives using evidence from national cohort data

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

An estimated 16% of all 14-year-olds in the UK in 2015 suffered from mental ill-health. Research which identified the scale of mental ill-health among the UK’s adolescents, and studied its drivers, has focused national attention on the problem. This has prompted new government policy and strategies for improving young people’s mental health.

Lifetime achievement

Winner: Professor Lord Richard Layard, London School of Economics and Political Science

Project: Public policies for employment, skills, wellbeing and mental health

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

This year, ESRC is recognising Professor Lord Richard Layard with a lifetime achievement award to celebrate the outstanding contribution he has made to social science and society in the UK and beyond.

Through his work as founder and director of ESRC’s Centre for Economic Performance, and currently co-director of the centre’s community wellbeing programme, Lord Layard’s research has shown how better wellbeing can improve lives and the economy.

He co-founded the ‘action for happiness’ campaign and his work has resulted in an initiative to improve access to psychological therapies. The impact of Lord Layard’s work can be seen in:

  • education
  • employment
  • mental health
  • climate change.

His influence is felt in:

  • academic research
  • public policy
  • community engagement
  • the political spectrum.

Finalists

Outstanding societal impact

Finalist: Professor Marianne Hester, University of Bristol

Project: Justice, inequality and gender-based violence

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research into the impact of gender-based violence on victim-survivors and their experience of justice has led to:

  • greater protection for survivors of domestic abuse and their children
  • new understanding of what victim-survivors of gender-based violence seek in terms of justice
  • improved advocacy, training and support by specialist services such as Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis.

Outstanding societal impact

Finalist: Professor Alice Sullivan, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Project: Reading for pleasure boosts cognitive development

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Research that shows reading for pleasure helps children perform significantly better in maths as well as English. This has directly influenced national and international policymakers, literacy organisations and schools to generate, fund and implement reading for pleasure campaigns and initiatives that have benefited the learning of millions of children worldwide.

Outstanding business and enterprise impact

Finalist: Dr Anna Remington, UCL Institute of Education

Project: Enhancing the employment of autistic individuals

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

Only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment in the UK, with lost employment detrimental to quality of life for the majority of autistic adults who would like to work, and costing the UK over £9 billion a year.

Research into how to improve employment opportunities has changed public perceptions around autism, increased recruitment of autistic people and changed culture and practices in a number of UK and international organisations.

Contact

For further information about the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize:

Celebrating Impact Prize team

Email: impact@esrc.ukri.org

Twitter: #impactprize

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