Innovation – AHRC

Arts and humanities research plays a critical role within the innovation ecosystem, operating at the intersection between people and technology. It drives and underpins innovation through the:

  • creation of new products and services
  • imagining of new worlds.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) ambition is to:

  • embed arts and humanities research and innovation in the creative economy
  • catalyse world-class innovation
  • increase the capability of researchers to work directly with industry
  • maximise opportunities for the commercialisation of arts and humanities research.

Innovation is already deeply embedded in our approach to funding. Investments are intended to increase the breadth, depth and reach of what we fund in this space, stretching across the full range of our portfolio.

How we support innovation

Follow-on fund

The AHRC follow-on fund (FoF) is an open opportunity designed to enhance the value and wider benefit of current or completed AHRC-funded projects. Individuals can apply for funding of up to £100,000 which can be used to support activities such as:

  • knowledge exchange
  • commercialisation
  • public engagement
  • active dissemination.

It funds innovative and creative engagement with new audiences and user communities, with significant economic, social, cultural or policy impact.

Find out more and apply to the AHRC follow-on funding opportunity.

Impact acceleration accounts (IAAs)

IAAs are strategic awards intended to add value to existing funding and take advantage of new or unforeseen opportunities. IAA awards open for applications once every three years.

The awards are provided to research organisations to allow them to respond to impact opportunities in more flexible, responsive, and creative ways. They support a greater breadth of knowledge exchange, commercialisation and impact activities.

Find out more about the UKRI impact acceleration accounts area of investment.

Design Exchange Partnerships: design the green transition

This programme is delivered with the Design Museum. It brings together UK researchers, universities, and businesses, using the power of design to develop solutions for specific net zero and climate crisis challenges facing UK coastal and island communities.

As the UK’s largest publicly funded design research and innovation programme it will ensure that design expands its role as a crucial element of the innovation system, and as a vital player in realising green transition goals.

Find out more about the Design Exchange Partnerships: design the green transition opportunity.

Creative industries clusters

The creative industries clusters programme is designed as a catalyst for driving innovation and growth across the UK’s creative industries. It looks to redefine the way in which industry and researchers across a range of disciplines collaborate to develop new products and experiences across the creative sector.

The programme drives growth and extends the success of research and innovation-driven creative industries into new sectors, partnerships and places.

Read about our creative industries clusters area of investment.


CoStar is a research and innovation infrastructure investment supporting the creation of new products, experiences and markets for the screen and performance industries.

The state-of-the-art facility supports fast-growing creative industries to develop new products and experiences.

Find out more about CoStar and other Infrastructure Fund projects.

UK-China creative industries programme

The UK-China fund for international collaboration in the creative industries programme is being delivered in four phases. It has a specific focus on Shanghai as China’s cultural and creative industries powerhouse.

The overarching aim of the programme is to enable a rapid scaling-up of engagements between the UK and China to facilitate new collaborations in the creative industries that deliver sustained economic, cultural and intellectual benefits in both countries.

Innovation scholars

The overall purpose of innovation scholars funding is to support skills development and knowledge exchange between academia and industry, public and third sector in architecture and design.

Through individual secondments, scholarships foster knowledge exchange and collaboration as well as boosting individuals’ skills, knowledge and career prospects.

Last updated: 21 November 2022

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