NERC Impact Awards 2023

Entry to the NERC Impact Awards 2023 is now closed. Winners were announced at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum on 29 November 2023. Read the impact stories of this year’s winners and finalists in the 2023 awards brochure and view the videos showcasing their work on YouTube.

The NERC Impact Awards 2023 shine a light on the UK science at the heart of the responsible management of our planet.

Research like this saves lives and prevents billions in flood damage through better weather forecasts. It is behind sustainable palm oil that protects wildlife and their habitats. It propels us to recycle our plastics and create new materials that do not harm our oceans. It helps us make the right choices and sets us on the path to net zero.

This is possible thanks to a thriving community of UK environmental scientists. These talented and pioneering researchers reveal the state of our environment and how we can respond.

As part of UKRI, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) supports people and ideas to achieve impact through collaborative research and innovation. We work with committed partners to ensure environmental research makes a difference.

See videos of previous award winners (YouTube).

What awards are available?

We will make the following awards:

  • an overall impact award (£20,000)
  • three thematic awards across the areas of economic, societal, and environmental impact. These awards will each be named according to the main area of impact delivered, which may be 1 or several of the impact areas as appropriate. At least one of these awards will recognise impact achieved through public engagement with research (£12,000 each)
  • an early career impact award (£12,000)
  • four runner-up awards across economic, societal, and environmental impact named according to the main area of impact delivered. At least one runner-up award will recognise impact achieved through public engagement with research (£7,000 each)
  • an early career impact runner-up award (£7,000)

The judging panels will also be invited to select additional entries for special commendation.

Impact Awards Ceremony

Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum.

Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum.
Credit: Natural History Museum

The winners of the NERC Impact Awards 2023 will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 29 November at the iconic Natural History Museum.

The event will bring together leaders and decision-makers from business, government and academia to recognise the diverse talent that delivers impact for our society, economy and environment.

Alex Burch, Director of Public Programmes at the Natural History Museum said:

As a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre, the Natural History Museum is thrilled to be hosting this years’ NERC Impact Awards in November, to celebrate innovative research that informs our natural world and recognises the talented individuals who deliver transformational work that will help to create a future where both people and planet thrive.

How we will assess your entry

Entries will be assessed by our shortlisting and judging panels. The panels will bring a variety of expertise and experience in assessing the impact of environmental science. They will include a diverse set of representatives from:

  • research user organisations including government and business
  • the research community
  • public engagement professionals
  • NERC

Entries will be judged using the Research Excellence Framework (REF) impact criteria, namely the reach and significance of the impact achieved.

In accordance with UKRI policy on conflicts of interest, panel members will be asked to declare potential conflicts of interest beforehand, and to leave the room during discussion of any entry in which they have a conflict of interest.

If you are shortlisted

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a virtual interview with the judging panel in October 2023.

Award funds will be transferred to the lead applicant’s institution of employment. For team entries the award funds shall be distributed proportionately, and we will liaise with the lead applicant to agree the most appropriate way to do so within our statutory obligations and funding requirements.

The award funds must be used within 12 months of receipt to further enhance the impacts from the NERC-funded activity. Award recipients will be required to comply with the funding terms and conditions, and to submit a brief report to NERC 12 months after receiving the award.

The report should explain how the award money was used to further the impact, and how you considered diversity and inclusion and environmental sustainability in planning and delivering the work, in line with the NERC diversity and inclusion living action plan and UKRI environmental sustainability strategy.

The report will be reviewed by the impact team and may be used for wider NERC impact evidence activity.


  • deadline for entries: midday on 21 April 2023
  • results of shortlisting stage: June 2023
  • shortlisted applicants and teams participate in communications and media activities: June to November 2023
  • online (remote) interviews of shortlisted applicants and teams: October 2023
  • awards ceremony: London, 29 November 2023

Data protection for applicants

All personal data provided in connection to the Impact Awards 2023 will be processed in accordance with UK data protection legislation.

The information needed to administer and evaluate the competition, and information about the diversity characteristics of the lead applicant and each team member, will be stored in a secure site only accessible to the NERC Impact Awards team. Individual information will only be viewed by the NERC team.

The case studies may be used by NERC for other purposes not related to the Impact Awards, for example in impact case studies published on the UKRI website or shared within UKRI and government departments (such as the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) for briefing, reporting and analysis purposes.

Your personal information will be retained in line with the UKRI retention policy. Further information on how we use personal data, and how you can exercise your rights as a data subject, can be found in the UKRI privacy notice.

Contact us

Please contact the NERC team if you have any queries, at:


Last updated: 30 November 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have some quick feedback or help us improve your experience by taking three minutes to tell us what you think of the UKRI website.