Research and knowledge exchange

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account

The University of Sussex has successfully been awarded £1.05 million by the ESRC to develop and deliver an Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) for the next four years. This builds on an original investment of £1.2 million.

The second phase of funding will focus on developing and supporting challenge-led impact, particularly in the areas of digital and health, and will build on the success and learnings of the past five years.

What is the ESRC IAA?

The Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) is a block grant worth £1.05 million that has been awarded to the University of Sussex by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to support the development of social science impact and knowledge exchange activities. The ESRC define impact as the ‘demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’.

Funding will be used to develop and support the acceleration of impact from social science research amongst non-academic audiences. Underpinning research does not have to be funded through the ESRC.

Read our case studies from Round 1 to find out more.

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March 2022

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May 2022

Browse our library of researcher resources:

  • Our Enterprising Researcher podcast series. The six episodes deal with challenges and opportunities researchers face when working on external partnerships.
  • Our Researcher Toolkit, a  detailed guide to approaching and working with external partners.
What is the University trying to achieve through the ESRC IAA?

We plan to accelerate what we acheived in the first five years of the ESCR IAA at Sussex. The overall objectives remain the same: we will build relationships and engagement with external partners and we will support Sussex researchers.

Round 2 of the Sussex ESCR IAA aims to:

  1. Facilitate deep & meaningful relationships with users of research
  2. Develop and support the capacity of researchers
  3. Explore different methods and models in achieving impact

The Sussex ESRC IAA has a managed programme of work that focuses on core themes, in particular: digital and health. Each core theme will be built on partnerships with external partners to co-design and deliver a programme of work, using a challenge-led approach to facilitating knowledge exchange.

Digital: Working with Wired Sussex, a Sussex-based umbrella organisation that supports over 2,500 creative digital companies in Brighton and beyond to develop and grow, the IAA will be focusing on utilising social science research activity to address the generation of value within the experience economy, especially through the utilisation of emerging technologies. This will involve events, collaborations, and creative opportunities to explore interdisciplinary opportunities in the creative digital sector.

Health: Working with Kent Sussex Surrey (KSS) Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), a membership organisation bringing together health, higher education, local government and industry to enhance health, innovation and economic growth, the IAA will be focusing on addressing challenging health issues across the Sussex region in collaboration with a range of health partners. 

The IAA is also continuing to work with Policy@Sussex and others on policy impact, and we are happy to talk to you about how the IAA can support you.

By focussing on these specific areas, the IAA is planning a programme of aggregation and clustering of research expertise at Sussex at the institutional level to align and scale impact. It will enable multi-disciplinary activity across the social sciences within the university to connect around the themes. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss these collaborative opportunities under the managed work programme.

The IAA managed programme of work will be complemented by an open call fund (Fast Track Engagement Fund) that will enable researchers to engage with users of research through collaboration or develop and widen their networks to support the development of impact (see ESRC IAA funding below).


ESRC IAA funding

IAA - Fast Track Engagement fund

This scheme supports diverse activities ranging from the delivery of research-based advice to the development of demand-led projects with key external collaborators. Applications are invited for values up to £3,000.

Eligibility: Excellent social science research is eligible for funding from the IAA regardless of how the research was originally funded. Therefore research funded by other Research Councils and funding bodies would be eligible, and interdisciplinary applications are eligible as long as social science is the leading research. Those on studentships, ESRC funded or otherwise, are not eligible for IAA funding and IAA funds must not be used to fund studentships.

Deadline: This is an open call, applications can be submitted at any time.

For more information, contact Lorna Hards (

ESRC Festival of Social Science

All funding for participation in the ESRC Festival of Social Science is now administered through the ESRC IAA here at University of Sussex. The ESRC Festival of Social Science is a series of public engagement events focusing on social science, and is held across the UK in November.

The application deadline has now closed

The annual ESRC Festival of Social Science aims to:

  • Encourage, support and create the opportunity for social science researchers, particularly early career researchers, to engage with non-academic audiences.
  • Provide a ‘safe’ place for researchers at all career stages to test out public engagement activities
  • Engage with a range of policymakers promoting social science research and findings, to inform policymaking and to maximise the impact of research
  • Engage the wider public to promote social science research and findings and an awareness and understanding of the contribution they make to the economy and wellbeing of society
  • Engage young people and schools in social sciences.

If you would like to discuss, please contact Lorna Hards (

Training, events and other opportunities

Other funding

There are other social science funding opportunities for impact that might also be worth investigating:

And please note other funding opportunities within the University of Sussex, though not necessarily social science:

  • The University Enterprise Development Fund has been created to support new academic commercial activity.
  • The Research Opportunities Fund is designed to provide initial funds for faculty to stimulate new interdisciplinary ideas and research projects. It will provide initial support for research programmes amongst researchers from different disciplines within Sussex and/or with key external collaborators.

Contact us

If you would like to find out more about the ESRC IAA and how you can apply for funding please contact:

Lorna Hards, ESRC IAA Project Manager (Mon to Thurs.)


T: 01273 678178 x8178