ESRC teams and strategic leads

An overview of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) teams and their strategic leads.

Data and Infrastructure Programme 

Strategic leads:

The Data and Infrastructure Programme plans, oversees and manages ESRC’s data services, collections and resources, ranging from infrastructures that provide data access, to longitudinal studies, to platforms which enable data analytics. This represents a huge portfolio of strategic investment, which underpins the UK’s world-leading social science research landscape.


Strategic Lead:

The Environment team leads ESRC’s research commissioning, development and management activities for areas including climate change, environmental planning and sustainability, energy, transport and infrastructure. We work in collaboration and partnership with a wide range of other research funders and external stakeholders, both in the UK and internationally.

Evaluation Team 


The Evaluation Team has lead responsibility for designing, commissioning and delivering ESRC’s programme of strategic evaluations. Focusing on the largest funding investments, as well as some selective scheme level projects, we ensure rigorous and credible evaluation evidence emerges. We explore what works, for whom, why, and in what contexts, in order to understand and evidence the impact of our investments. Working closely with colleagues in ESRC and across UK Research and Innovation, we endeavour to drive continuous improvements in our activity by evaluating the scale, nature and determinants of the impact of our investments. The Evaluation Team champions the use of evaluation evidence for the organisation to use, understand, act upon and make better strategic decisions.

Global Resilience

Strategic Lead:

The Global Resilience team is responsible for developing, commissioning and managing research and knowledge exchange activities in the areas of world politics, conflict, security and foreign policy, and issues such as supranational governance, development assistance and migration. Our portfolio of grants covers the disciplinary areas of international relations, international security studies, geopolitics, foreign policy analysis, development studies, social anthropology and area studies. We work in collaboration and partnership with a wide range of external stakeholders and other research funders, both in the UK and internationally, to maximise the impact of our investments.

Governance and Policy Team

Team head:

The Governance and Policy Team supports ESRC’s Council. It provides the support function for the executive office, directors and deputy directors, oversees corporate governance and compliance, and coordinates ESRC’s input into official consultations and enquiries.  The team is also responsible for research funding policy and grants training.

Grants Delivery Team 


The Grants Delivery Team (GDT) is the centre of expertise within ESRC for managing commissioning calls and related grants processing activity, and for undertaking high-quality peer review for managed and responsive mode grants.  Responsibility for supporting the responsive mode Grants Assessment Panels also rests within the team.  Working in partnership with all teams across ESRC, GDT aims to set high standards for delivering efficient and innovative solutions to commissioning activities.

Health and Human Behaviour 

Strategic Lead:

The Health and Human Behaviour team develops, commissions and manages research and knowledge exchange activities in the areas of health, ageing, behaviour, wellbeing, education and linguistics. It also processes standard grant applications in the disciplines of psychology, demography, education and linguistics.

Impact Engagement

Strategic Lead:

The Impact Engagement team equips and enables ESRC to listen, understand and respond to the views of its research and innovation communities. The team works across ESRC and UKRI to provide coordination, ensuring that a holistic view of engagement takes place across the organisation. This includes spotting new opportunities and reducing duplication, with a focus on outcomes and impacts from the activities and investments ESRC funds.

The team also leads on the development, implementation, and coordination of ESRC’s strategic engagement on key delivery plan themes to demonstrate the impact of ESRC and the social sciences. They are looking to use innovative ways to understand ‘what works’ in engagement and embed this knowledge into our strategic planning and delivery cycle.

The team also leads on public engagement activities for ESRC such as the Festival of Social Science.

Innovation and Business Engagement 

Strategic Lead:

The Innovation and Business Engagement team oversees ESRC’s business engagement and innovation funding, including our investment in Impact Acceleration Accounts, the Innovation Caucus and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, as well as supporting the commercialisation of social sciences.


Strategic Lead:

ESRC’s Insights team builds the organisational expertise needed to scope, gather, understand, share and act on evidence, and helps us to use evidence to inform decisions.

International Strategy 

Strategic Lead:

The International Strategy team leads on the development of ESRC’s international strategy and establishes and maintains the international partnerships required to deliver ESRC’s strategic goals. The team is responsible for the embedding and integration of international activity across all of ESRC’s programmes. We manage a portfolio of activities that engages funders and other partners from around the globe.

Justice and Security

Strategic Lead:

The Justice and Security team develops, commissions and manages research and knowledge exchange activities concerned with achieving a society which is just, equitable, safe and governed fairly. Topic areas include equalities, politics and governance, crime and justice, and security and defence.

Operations and Change Function

Head of Change, Engagement and Delivery:

  • Sara Slade

The Operations and Change Function supports ESRC’s Chief Operating Officer, in change engagement and delivery and also in the management of ESRC resources and budgets, in close collaboration with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) central services.

The function is also responsible for managing ESRC’s engagement with UKRI estates, HR, finance and IT. It delivers ESRC’s local internal communications and engagement for ESRC staff.


Productivity and Growth Team

Team head:

The Productivity and Growth Team is responsible for developing, commissioning and managing research and knowledge exchange investments across the fields of:

  • economics
  • productivity
  • growth
  • innovation
  • technology.

We also manage ESRC interests in artificial intelligence (AI), digitisation and automation including as part of UK Research and Innovation’s AI programme.

The team looks after grants in the disciplines of economics and science and technology studies, including ESRC’s flagship investments in productivity.

Public policy and engagement

Strategic Leads:

  • Alice Taylor (Strategic Lead, Public Policy Research and Place-based Strategy)
  • Daniel Robinson (Strategic Lead, Policy Partnerships and Impact)

The policy and practice impact teams aim to identify evidence of effective impact support and maximise the impact of ESRC investment on policy and practice decision-making for better social and economic outcomes.  The teams work across ESRC, managing our strategic relationships with government, parliamentary and not-for-profit sector and identifying opportunities for strategic alignment and demand for social science evidence

Skills and Methods 

Strategic Leads:

The Skills and Methods cluster manages investment and policies in the area of researcher development across the life course and methodological skills and innovation. This includes ESRC’s Doctoral Training Network, support for early career researchers and major research methods investments, and developing our evolving strategy to support research leadership in the social sciences.


Team Head:

The Strategy team leads on the development, implementation and coordination of ESRC’s strategic planning framework, monitoring corporate progress against the objectives set out in our delivery plan. The team also oversees the development of new strategic initiatives, including managing the process for reviewing submissions to our ‘Big Ideas’ pipeline, and is responsible for engagement with key academic partners, including research organisations, learned societies and fellow UK social science funders.

Strategic Hub Team, ADR UK programme

Team heads:

Administrative Data Research UK’s (ADR UK) mission is to transform the way researchers access the UK’s wealth of public sector data. By joining up the abundance of administrative data already being created by government and public bodies across the UK, and facilitating safe and secure access to this data for approved researchers, ADR UK is creating a sustainable resource that will provide valuable insights into how our society and economy function.

This approach is tailored to give decision makers the answers they need to solve important policy questions, driving change that has the potential to improve lives across the UK. The ADR UK Strategic Hub Team is based in ESRC, with staff in London and Swindon, and provides strategic leadership to facilitate effective data acquisition, promote impact and create wider recognition of the potential benefits of research using administrative data.

Visit the ADR UK website.

UKRI Challenge Fund Delivery Team 


The UKRI Challenge Fund Delivery Team develops and manages opportunities for the UK social sciences research base to contribute its expertise, skills and capabilities to the fund, so that societal impact is maximised. This is achieved through working with the UKRI Challenge Fund Challenge teams and the social sciences research community to create large-scale research programmes.

Work, Education and Skills 

Strategic Lead:

The Work, Education and Skills team is responsible for developing, commissioning and managing research and knowledge exchange investments across the fields of work, management and business studies, education and skills.

The team oversees the development of a number of ESRC priority areas including future of work and educational outcomes.

We work in collaboration and partnership with a wide range of external stakeholders and other research funders to maximise the impact of our investments.

Last updated: 14 May 2024

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